Thursday, 20 October 2011

Closing the Gap on Poverty

Like many people I suppose, I often feel frustrated and powerless when I read or hear about what's happening internationally in East Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the increasing numbers of people who live in poverty here in the UK.

The 'Close the Gap' campaign being coordinated by Church Action on Poverty reminds us that we don't always have to dip into our pockets and that there are other ways which help to make a difference, be it through prayer, action or donation.

By pledging to Close the Gap, it's a simple task to send an e-mail to your MP and local paper or join an e-petition. Their website has all the information you need to become involved.

Church Action on Poverty

Worth reading, too is Fiona's comment on the book 'The Spirit Level' by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Sunday Worship for World Mental Health Day

On Monday it was World Mental Health Day, which aims to raise awareness of mental health issues.

This week, St David's Uniting Church hosted Radio 4's Sunday worship programme, which was led by one of our members, Beverley Humphreys. Beverley is an experienced radio presenter and is Chair of the mental health project 'Growing Space', based at Tredegar House in Newport.

The service explored the light and darkness of human experience through the 'prism of faith' - in particular through the experience of the psalmists. It included three short extracts from an interview which Beverley recorded with one of the clients of the Growing Space project, giving a real example of both the depth of pain and isolation and the possibilities of healing for people experiencing mental health problems.

The hymns, beautifully sung by the BBC National Chorus of Wales, and the prayers, written by our minister the Rev Simon Walkling, were carefully crafted to complement Beverley's words and create a wholesome experience of worship.
Some of the choir members afterwards told me they had found the service moving and had to make an effort to 'pull themselves together' for the next item they were singing!

You can read the transcript of the service in the Sunday Worship archives on the BBC website.

I'll end with one of the prayers used toward the end of the service:
We pray with hope for people seeking recovery
we give thanks when conversation and care from family and friends makes a difference;
we give thanks when medication lifts mood and changes outlook;
we give thanks when therapies change the spiral from down and inward to looking out and up;
we give thanks when the therapy of talking deals with problems from the past and gives direction for the future;
we give thanks when prayers are answered.

So we offer these prayers, for those who suffer, for those who support, for those who research more effective treatments, and we pray for your kingdom community of healing and hope. Amen

Friday, 7 October 2011

Harvest Festival

Last sunday was our harvest service. Friends from Displaced People in Action (pictured) joined us to give an update on the work that they are doing. In particular, they described how they have been making use of our regular contributions to a fund which they use to help asylum seekers as they pursue education and training programmes. Very small amounts of money (£20 - £100), perhaps for a one off registration payment, can make all the difference between being able to continue a course or having to give up.

We are proud of our ongoing links with Dpia and are always pleased to see staff and clients.

Our harvest display included a prominent box for contributions to the newly launched Pontypridd Foodbank, which will be run from St Lukes Church, Rhydyfelin. The foodbank is run in conjuction with the Trussell Trust It is a sad reflection on our society that these projects are increasingly needed.

Our harvest appeal will go this year to the Christian Aid East Africa appeal. images of drought in Somalia and elsewhere were used as a focus for meditative prayer during the service. A video of the situation can be seen on the Christian Aid website