It was in 1990 that the Parochial Church Council (PCC), under the chairmanship of the Vicar, Canon Robert Willis, set up a new subcommittee, the Faith in Action Committee (FIAC), with the brief of ‘coordinating and encouraging our links with and support for work outside the Parish’. At the same time the PCC decided to tithe its voluntary income and work through FIAC in its support for overseas, national and local projects and causes.
Our aim is to work in partnership with our friends both at home and overseas. Personal links have been and continue to be very important. Regular correspondence and other information have opened our eyes both to a range of needs in our own country and different cultures and traditions abroad. We have appreciated the visits and talks from a number of our partners as well as the opportunities for us to visit them. All this has helped to make our prayers more informed and meaningful. We also thank our partners for their prayers for us.
Each year we run our own Lent Project (see details below) and organise the sale of the Harvest Produce in aid of the Salisbury/Sudan Medical Link.
For more details about the work of FIAC see the Annual Report and Accounts, which is included in the Parish Report each year. If you have any comments about the work of FIAC, suggestions for projects or would like to become more involved, please let me know.
David Smart (Chairman)
Lent Project 2017
This year the two projects which we are supporting are:
St Saviour’s Church, Riga, Latvia: the link between the Parish of Sherborne and St Saviour’s Church in Riga dates from 1996. Our project is in support of three aspects of their mission: the ministry, the regular worship and their outreach to the community.
THE PILSDON COMMUNITY: which shares a common life of worship, prayer and work. Our project is in support of the refurbishment of a barn in order to create a larger space where all the members of the community can meet together.
St SAVIOUR’S CHURCH, RIGA, LATVIA
In 1822 British traders established an Anglican Church and Benevolent Fund for Seafarers, but it was not until 1857 that the foundation stone of the church building was laid. The church was dedicated in 1859 as the Church of St Saviour in Riga. In 1940 the church building was taken over by the Soviet occupiers of Latvia. From 1972 until the early 1990s it was used by the Riga Technical University as a cultural centre and a venue for concerts, exhibitions and dances. After Latvia regained its independence in 1991 the church re-opened as a centre of worship. They felt that their primary mission was to serve the local community so in 1996 the Seniors’ Club was founded and in 2001 the Soup Kitchen opened.
St Saviour’s Church – Parish of Sherborne link
Our link dates from 1996 when the Vicar, Canon Eric Woods and his wife visited St Saviour’s. As well as praying every Sunday for each other we have regular exchanges of emails. Early in the link a number of members of our Youth Club went to Riga and helped to paint and do other jobs in the undercroft of the church. Shortly after that we were pleased to welcome a group of Latvian young people to Sherborne. We have had three parish visits to Riga since our link began. Over the years a number of members of the Riga congregation have visited Sherborne. Likewise some of the Sherborne congregation have been made very welcome at St Saviour’s Church. The latest link is that our Assistant Curate, the Revd Guntars Reboks, came to us from St Saviour’s.
Recent and future developments at St Saviour’s
During this last year there have been a number of improvements at St Saviour’s – the undercroft has been completely refurbished and a new office has been created. During the next couple of years there are plans for the refurbishment of the interior of the church. The congregation is also growing, partly as a number of Latvians have now joined St Saviour’s – for many years St Saviour’s would have been seen as an “expatriate denomination”. They are now having a wider range of services in the church, some of them in Latvian and Russian. Their regular activities include Bible Study/Evening Prayer, Lunchtime Concerts, the Soup Kitchen (for 150 of the most vulnerable of Riga’s citizens) and support for the Seniors’ Club.
How are we going to help?
The money from our Lent Project will go towards three aspects of their mission: the ministry, the worship and their outreach through the work of the Soup Kitchen and support for the Seniors’ Club.
THE PILSDON COMMUNITY
Pilsdon, near Bridport, was founded in 1958 as a community of prayer, hospitality and work. Today the same ethos prevails and Pilsdon provides a place for people from all walks of life to come together and share a common life. Pilsdon has an open door to those who need refuge at a particular point in their life – some come whilst recovering from alcoholism or addiction, others coping with mental illness or following a crisis point in their life. They are able to offer periods of respite for people who may need space for recuperation in the caring and supportive environment of Pilsdon. The community also offers hospitality to wayfarers and people who are homeless. In this situation people are welcome to stay for a night during the week or over a weekend, once every six weeks. They also enjoy hosting visits from those exploring a vocation to community life.
Life in the community
The community is made up of 25-30 people who live and work together on a small farm, based around a Jacobean manor house and its converted stables and barns. They enjoy home baked bread, fresh vegetables from the garden and milk, butter and cream from their small dairy herd. A day at Pilsdon follows a regular pattern built around the pillars of prayer, meals and work. Their common life means that everyone shares in the tasks, working together in the kitchen or garden, or helping to care for the livestock. Guests and visitors are encouraged to practice their skills and trades for the benefit of the community, or indeed to learn new ones. Guests play an important part in the welcome and hospitality that is offered to visitors and, should they wish to, they are also free to participate in the worship life of the community. Currently the community is full and there is a waiting list. Over the Christmas period there were about 40 people at Pilsdon including a number of wayfarers.
Developments over recent years
During the last few years quite a number of improvements have been made to the existing buildings – painting, rewiring, new windows, etc. One project, known as ‘The Loose Boxes’ involved converting an existing stable block into short-term accommodation for people who have been sleeping rough – it is certainly well used.
How are we going to help?
Money from our Lent Project is in support of the refurbishment of a barn in order to create a larger space where all the members of the community can meet together and they can have joint activities.
Faith in Action Committee Report for 2016
Our brief is to be the link with work outside the Parish e.g. mission societies, home and overseas charities, etc. We support them through our prayers, interest and gifts. They (and we) often see our link as one of “partnership” and they do appreciate the fact that someone else is interested in what they are doing. So communication between us is vital. During this last year we have had quite a lot of personal contact with our partners both overseas and locally. We do appreciate their regular emails or newsletters and have enjoyed visits from several of our ‘partners’. We have also had the opportunity to see at first hand the work of a number of the groups which we have been supporting.
SUDAN: It has been a difficult year for our diocesan link with Sudan. From July the political and security situations began to deteriorate and since then there has been fierce fighting in many areas and many people have had to leave their homes and villages, some even fleeing across the border to Uganda. There has been an increase in both ethnic tensions and military activity as well as lawlessness. This has resulted in food insecurity and acute malnutrition in many areas. Sadly few people in the general population, the United Nations or the Churches see any way forward. Much prayer is needed for a resolution of the problems in South Sudan and for a peaceful way forward.
Money for humanitarian aid continues to be channelled through Christian Aid, and much of the work of the Medical Link and Advocacy has been able to continue as before. The Education Committee has given grants for projects in a number of dioceses in South Sudan. Last year I reported that Bishop Allison Theological College (BATC), which we have supported for many years but had been closed for a number of years, had now re-opened in Yei with about twenty students. After three successful semesters the political unrest led to the decision to temporarily close the college. Derek and Jane Waller returned to England. From our point of view the positive was that they were able to visit us in October. It was good to get to know them and they spoke to a small group of interested parishioners. They were hoping that BATC will reopen in January, if not in Yei then in Arua, Uganda.
LATVIA: This year our contact with St Saviour’s Church, Riga has been closer than ever before. In June the Revd Guntars Reboks from St Saviour’s Church, Riga arrived in Sherborne as our new Assistant Curate. We are pleased to welcome Guntars and his wife Enija to our community. In November we had a very interesting visit from three members of St Saviour’s Church – they all work in the Riga University Theology Faculty. It was a good opportunity for them to discover more about what is happening in Sherborne and to report back to their own congregation as well as for us to learn more about St Saviour’s Church and its work. They spoke at a very successful parish meeting/social on their final evening. We also appreciate Bishop Jana’s regular newsletter which helps to keep us in touch.
The Lent Project was launched at the Shrove Lunch on the Sunday before Lent (many thanks to the Resources Committee). The ‘overseas project’ was in support of CRANE (in Kampala, Uganda) (Children at Risk Action Network). Our mission partner, Helen Burningham is seconded to CRANE and works with vulnerable and disadvantaged girls who are at risk. The ‘home project’ was in support of FUTURE ROOTS, which is based at Rylands Farm near Sherborne and uses animal-assisted therapy to help both young people and older men to face the challenges that they are experiencing. Three groups of parishioners subsequently visited Future Roots.
The committee met three times during the year as well as being involved in the Lent Project and Harvest Stall. A typical meeting might begin with a brief presentation – this year’s presentations were from Kathy Pinsent and Bob Eccelshall. Kathy is a member of the Pilsdon Community and she gave us an insight into the work of the community with its theme of “sharing a common life of prayer, hospitality and work”. Bob spoke about the growing work of the Rendezvous here in Sherborne which caters for those who are in the age range 13-25. Much of their work is giving one-to-one support but some of their work is also in small groups. We then share news about the projects/ people/ societies/ activities that we support and consider the donations that we might make. During the year we did some further work on the guidelines we use for making donations and also on ensuring that we know how our donations are being used. Most societies/ groups are very good in sending us information about their work, usually through ‘thank-you’ letters or through their regular emails or magazines. The PCC, through FIAC, allocates approximately 10% of its voluntary income to the support of work outside the Parish. About 40% of our giving goes to thirteen societies which we support year by year. They rely on regular donations as they budget for their work. Where possible we send money to the local branch. Last year we supported a further twenty five causes. Details of these, with brief notes, are given in the financial statement which follows this report. It indicates the range of activities supported by the Parish through FIAC.
We were sorry that Jonathan Stones has retired from the committee and thank him for his support and contributions. We have been pleased to welcome The Revd Guntars Reboks, Eric Jager, Helen Isbell and John Crossman (the last two from St Paul’s Church). My thanks to all who have continued to support us. If you have any comments about the work of FIAC, suggestions for projects or would like to become more involved, please let me know.
David Smart (Chairman)
Our Regular Overseas Links
The Parish of Sherborne is involved in the partnership between the Diocese of Salisbury and the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, which was first set up in the 1970s. It is a two-way partnership of mutual support and encouragement with prayer at the very heart of the link. In spite of the political and humanitarian troubles in South Sudan and the official diocesan links being suspended, we have been able to continue our support in prayer and finance for the two main Sherborne-Sudan projects which are:
Salisbury-Sudan Medical Link
The Medical Link supports the work of the Church in Sudan mainly though the distribution of primary health kits, the training of medical workers and the funding of health awareness projects. Each year we give the proceeds from the sale of our harvest produce to this work.
Bishop Allison Theological College (BATC)
For many years Bishop Allison Theological College was located in Arua, Uganda. Unfortunately several years ago BATC had to close because of lack of finance and students. In February 2015 it re-opened in Yei, Sudan with about twenty students. It is very important for the Church of Sudan and South Sudan to have trained clergy (and potential leaders for the future), so BATC has an important role to play. As a parish we have supported the work of BATC since it was originally a Bible School and then when it became a Theological College, so we have a long connection with it.
Helen Burningham, our Mission Partner
Helen Burningham is our Church Mission Society (CMS) Mission Partner who is now working in Kampala, Uganda. She is seconded to CRANE (Children at Risk Action Network) and works primarily with the Girls Education Programme (GEC). The GEC Program consists of 20 Creative Learning Centres (CLC) in and around Kampala that provide education and life skills for vulnerable girls currently not in school. Helen visits the girls at the centres and interviews them on their experiences of the CLCs and also those that successfully return back to mainstream after the CLC term. She also teaches dance workshops at the centres with the objective of bringing value to the girls as they are encouraged to develop in confidence and creativity. Helen spent a weekend in the Parish in February 2015 and sends a monthly newsletter.
While St Saviour’s Church, Riga dates back to 1857, it was closed for fifty years during the Soviet occupation from 1940 – 1990. After Latvia’s renewed independence, an English-speaking congregation was established in 1991. They felt that their mission was to serve the local community, so in 1996 the Seniors’ Club was founded. The Sherborne-St Saviour’s Church link also dates from 1996. In 2001 they started a Soup Kitchen for the destitute of Riga. We pray regularly for each other, share information about activities in our churches and have periodic exchanges. The last parish visit to Riga was in May 2014 when we received a very warm welcome and had the privilege of seeing the Seniors’ Club and the Soup Kitchen in action, as well as sharing with the regular congregation in their Sunday morning Eucharist. St Saviour’s is an international, ecumenical English-speaking Church in the Anglican Diocese of Europe. The Chaplain is the Right Reverend Jana Juruma-Grinberga. Our financial support is for the work of the Seniors’ Club and the Soup Kitchen.