Help poor communities grow a future this Christian Aid Week
Sun 13th to Sat 19th May
You add, we multiply: Christian Aid Week is seven astounding days of fundraising, prayer and action against global poverty. We want people to add their time, money and voices and see them multiplied to make an impact around the world through Christian Aid.
Fifty years on from the first Christian Aid Week in 1957, the campaigns continue to focus on providing practical assistance to local, accountable partners and their projects, to help poor communities grow a future. It is a ‘hand up’ not a ‘hand out’.
Just £6.50 could provide fruit tree saplings for ten people in a village in Senegal. A grove of fruit trees will help the community improve their standard of living, and importantly, it will regenerate the area where they live, which has become a desert. Mariam, a villager who has been trained in the locally appropriate ways to improve agriculture in this dry, drought affected area, is determined to convince others in her home village of the advantages of growing fruit trees and to help them succeed. She says, “Mango trees would be great because you can sell the fruit and eat it too.”
During Christian Aid Week, around 120 collectors will drop those familiar red envelopes through the doors of Ickenham. A few days later they will return, hopefully to collect lots of donations. Together, our efforts can help to improve the lives of so many people in the developing world.
Please watch out for the envelopes, the collectors, and do give generously if you can. If you are also able to ‘gift aid’ your donation, then 28% can be added to its value through government tax relief. Last year, the residents of Ickenham gave almost £9,000 to the appeal – a record amount. Let’s try to top that again!
And additions to the collection team are always welcome. This year, we particularly need new people to help us cover the Brackenbury and the Glebe Avenue areas. If you could spare the time to join the team, please call us on 01895 673596.
Bernard Pearce – Christian Aid Week local coordinator
DROP-IN FOR THE BEREAVED. Third Monday of each month. St Giles’ Church Hall, 2pm to 3.30pm. A friendly, informal opportunity for a chat, over a cup of tea, with other bereaved people and pastoral visitors. The next meeting is Monday 21st May (also Monday 18th June). Just come along, or ring the Rectory (622970), if you would like to talk to someone first.
The quantity of musical activity is something that has struck me while getting to know life in Ickenham!
There are so many choirs, rehearsing and giving concerts. Whether it is the U3A Choir singing songs from musical shows, or the Walbrook Singers with more classical pieces, the rehearsals are intriguing to hear, and the performances are impressive.
The Hillingdon Choral Society and the Hillingdon Philharmonic Orchestra give seasonal concerts. They make an annual visit overseas, this month to France, and receive international acclaim. The Walbrook Singers take over at a cathedral for a week while the regular choir has a break.
Perry Parsons and the Vyners Swing Band are so much appreciated that Perry was awarded the MBE this year for services to education. ICN reported that Perry dubbed the MBE as ‘My Band’s Excellence’.
The church choirs faithfully contribute magnificently to the weekly worship at St Giles’ and the United Reformed Church, and get together for special occasions, such as the service on 22nd April, celebrating the anniversary of the covenant between the two churches.
Some members of these choirs are in other groups as well, and some take their skills to national events. For example, the Free Church Choir Union gathering this October in Guildford Cathedral, open to choir members from churches far and wide to take part, is conducted by Peter Williams of Ickenham.
Many young people devote hours to lessons and practice. The Guides and Brownies gave a splendid evening of musical entertainment for people who attended the Friends of Guiding Annual General Meeting in the Village Hall. And there are enthusiastic people helping even very young groups to find that making music is fun.
All this is just in the segment of Ickenham life that I have seen or heard about so far. Sharing the enjoyment of music is clearly one of the features of this community.
Maybe this gives a foretaste of the age to come. The vision of heaven in John’s Revelation in the Bible has “myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands singing with full voice” and “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing …”!
I am writing this on Easter Bank Holiday Monday. The ‘Alleluias’ of Easter Day are fading into memory but not the wonderful celebration of the day enjoyed by so many. The attendance at the 8.00am service was larger than usual and a large mass of people filled both services that took place simultaneously at 9.45am, one in the Church and the other in the Church Hall, and the day was concluded with Choral Evensong beautifully led by the choir. When you add to the number those of our friends at the URC who were also celebrating Easter at their own services, it gives lie to the perception that attendances at church services are declining.
The joyful message of Easter could be seen on the faces of the people as they came out from the services – they had heard the message of the Risen Lord and they knew it was true – their faith had been confirmed.
The resurrection of Jesus, which is central to the Christian faith, is a stumbling block to many because they try to explain it in scientific terms. But we must remember it was also beyond the terms of reference of any of those who actually witnessed it. Those first disciples did not try to rationalise it but simply and honestly testified to what they had seen, even though it put them in enormous danger. Had it not been for their courage in witnessing to the Risen Lord the Church would not exist today.
Henry Nouwen, a great theologian and spiritual writer of the Twentieth century puts it this way:
“The friends of Jesus saw him and heard him only a few times after the Easter morning, but their lives were completely changed. What seemed to be the end proved to be the beginning; what seemed to be the cause for fear proved to be a cause for courage; what seemed to be defeat proved to be victory; and what seemed to be the basis for despair proved to be the basis for hope. Suddenly a wall becomes a gate, and although we are not able to say with much clarity or precision what lies beyond that gate, the tone of all that we do and say on our way to the gate changes drastically.”
If you would like to drastically change your life, if you would like to know more about the Christian faith and the true meaning of Easter, then you might like to consider joining one of the short courses that are starting shortly. (Start! Course – see ad. later in magazine.) You can find out more about the courses by dropping into St. Giles’ Church or by contacting the Rectory.
Revd. Ken Tombs