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.
Lent Projects 2019
This year the two projects which we are supporting are:
EDUCATION FOR CHANGE IN SRI LANKA
One of Sri Lanka’s main products is tea and there are numerous tea plantations around the country. Many of the people who live and work there are extremely poor. Long years of isolation and exclusion from the rest of Sri Lankan society have also led to a ghetto mentality, with a lack of independence and opportunities.
How is the Church helping?
The Anglican Church in the Diocese of Colombo has been ministering in the plantation areas for well over a century. The Plantation Community Development Programme focuses on women and children in the key areas of education and healthcare. The aim is not just to improve healthcare and education but to foster confidence and improve lives and opportunities generally, as well as reducing the prevalence of other issues such as domestic violence and abuse. The Diocese is working closely with the Mission Society, USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel). In this new way for USPG, churches in Britain and Ireland are working as partners with churches in other parts of the world and supporting them in their mission in the home country. This project has been prioritising pre-school education alongside healthcare and other aspects relevant to the development of young children, so that parents are gradually becoming more interested and engaged with their children’s education.
What is the impact so far?
Four preschools with 163 children attending have now been opened (there were only 68 children in two preschools a few months ago) and growth continues. A further 206 children are attending formal education classes and seven students are being provided with study assistance. Children are becoming healthier, both physically and mentally, as a result of the teaching on healthy diets. So this new programme is having a significant impact on education in this region, but there is still a lot of work which needs to be done and other areas linked to child development to be explored with both the children and their parents.
How are we going to help?
This programme has got off to a good start and our donations through the Lent Project will be to help this programme to expand. USPG are aiming for an annual target of £20,000 on this project. Can we have our target for this Lent Project to be at least £2,000?
AWAY FROM IT ALL (AFIA) HOLIDAYS
Diocese of Salisbury Mothers’ Union Holiday
Each year the Mothers’ Union (MU) of the Diocese of Salisbury organises a holiday for 20 – 25 families, many of whom are facing a crisis. This could be the result of long term illness, substance abuse, unemployment or family breakup. For many it is their first holiday or their first holiday for many years and it is certainly a holiday to be remembered and cherished..
The arrangements for the holiday
The holiday is fully financed, apart from a small deposit paid by the families, through funds raised by many of the MU branches across Dorset and Wiltshire, through grants from trusts and also donations from generous individuals. Some schools donate the use of their minibuses to add to the smooth running of the holiday. The holiday is based in a lovely hotel in Sidmouth with huge grounds, a super indoor heated swimming pool, 5-aside football lounge and activities room. The hotel is a short walk from the beach. Each day there is a ‘kids club’ with lots of things to do while the adults can have their break. There is a team of volunteers throughout the week and pastoral support is available for those who would like a listening ear. Times of worship are organised throughout the week but participation in all activities is voluntary. Sherborne has had a direct link with this holiday for some years now – some of the members of the Mothers’ Union have acted as volunteers and they have come back full of praise for the success and value of the holiday.
The feedback from the families is really what makes the holiday so special: they feel accepted, spoiled, cared for and so happy! There is often one common question: “When can we come again?”
How are we going to help?
The holiday is open to those who live in the area and on the recommendation of the church, Social Services or GP. The families pay a small deposit and the rest of the cost is covered by the donations which have been received. Based on your response to the Lent Projects in previous years we would hope to be able to cover the cost of up to three families.
Faith in Action Committee Report for 2018
FIAC is the sub-committee of the Parochial Church Council responsible for work outside the Parish, especially our support for charities, run by both Church and secular organisations, (locally, nationally and internationally), and missions, which further our Christian witness and demonstrate our love and support for people in need. We are responsible for evaluating applications, identifying suitable organisations to support, making donations, and building links, partnerships, and understanding especially with those we support annually.
We keep the parish informed through news sheets, pew sheets, email and information boards. We regularly receive updates on the impact of the projects we support. We held a reception for Helen Burningham, our long term mission partner who also preached in the Abbey. This year we also heard further about Sherborne Food Bank and Future Roots. In October a team from Sherborne Girls’, Leweston, and the Gryphon Schools supported through ASHA (which means hope), and ourselves, carried out a programme of support in the slums of Delhi. It was very moving to hear of their new insights into the situations and needs of others. At their feedback, Robert Hayward also gave an update of the situation for girls education in South Sudan and the success of the Juba Diocesan Model Girls School, which greatly interested the girls. These are just some examples of the amazing work that people are doing aided by our donations and the support of the wider Christian Community. Some other highlights of the year follow.
SUDAN: Our support for Christian action in South Sudan continues, despite the security situation in the country. Famine, economic collapse, and conflict continue and those we support work under extreme difficulties.
Again this year our Harvest giving has supported our Salisbury Diocese Medical Link which provides much needed basic medicines in South Sudan. The link between Sherborne Deanery and Ezo Diocese, South Sudan continues to thrive.
The Juba Diocesan Model Secondary School in the capital, Juba, is one of the most successful schools in S. Sudan. We continue to respond to requests as part of our long term commitment to them. Especially we have supported the expansion of dormitory provision for girls. Very few girls are engaged in secondary education in the country.
There is encouraging news that the Bishop Allison Theological College (BATC) which is in exile in Uganda has reopened in Arua in one of the refugee camps. Some students have now completed their courses and another 20 begun their studies. We will continue our financial and prayer support for them.
LATVIA: In addition to our regular support for the outreach Soup Kitchen and Seniors’ Club at St Saviour’s Church, Riga, this year we made an emergency grant to support the urgent repairs to the church fabric. We also support the Zvannieki Children’s Home. We also appreciate Bishop Jana’s regular newsletters which helps to keep us in touch, and we are saddened to hear that she retires in 2019. Rev Guntars Reboks continues to support our links there and is leading a parish group to visit in May 2019.
The LENT PROJECT: In 2018 our Lent giving raised nearly £5,000 to support the work the Tinneys Area Youth and Community Centre in Sherborne, and CRANE (Children at Risk Action Network) in Kampala. This latter organisation was referred to us by Helen Burningham who is seconded to work with it. It supports a network of over 150 Christian organisations in and around Kampala. CRANE supports the work in the Kampala slum communities of Bwaise and Namuwongo which includes supporting children living on the streets, orphans, and those in danger because of poverty, war, human trafficking, abandonment, abuse and exploitation. The project we supported focussed on health improvement for children at risk because of poor maternal and baby health care in Kampala’s slums. The provision of baby boxes, given to mothers-to-be which together with information provided by peer educators, will significantly reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
When the Dorset County Council closed the youth provision in Sherborne a dedicated group of volunteers formed a charity to continue the work. Two meetings a week cater for years 7-9, 10-11 while a church youth group meets on a Friday and there is extensive use of the hard playing area. 40-50 young people attend and they are supported by volunteers and paid youth workers. Our contribution has been used to support the formation of a group of older, year 12/13 students. The building is used by other groups such as mothers and babies and over 80s.
During the year our Chairman, David Smart had a serious illness. John Crossman agreed to act as interim chairman and is working closely with David to ensure continued smooth delivery of our work. John has considerable experience of the charity and voluntary sectors. We are delighted that David is making a good recovery and has been able to take on a lot of the work, especially that of treasurer. The committee will undertake a review of how it works, which will be discussed with the Rector and the PCC, with the intention of encouraging new members, sharing out some of the work, and appointing a new permanent chair.
Details of the donations which we made are shown in the Annual Report.
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 some 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. Sadly the college in Yei had to close again a couple of years later because of the serious unrest which had broken out again in South Sudan but the good news is that the students got together again in one of the refugee camps in Arua to which they had fled and they were able to complete their course. About twenty were ordained and are now ministering in the area. A further twenty students have now started their training. 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 St Saviour’s Church, the Seniors’ Club and the Soup Kitchen.