On Monday morning, 25th July, the URC was filled with 131 excited children (and lots of grown ups too) who had gathered for the start of Ickenham Churches’ Holiday Club. The theme was ‘Super Friends’ and over five fun-packed days we were treated to a bible story every morning, told in a variety of interesting ways.
On Monday, Moses’ sister, in the grown-up guise of Anne Whitlam, told how she had watched over her baby brother when he was hidden in the bull rushes: your family can also be your friends. On Tuesday farmer Bernie Collins interrupted harvest to tell us how Naomi and Ruth put aside their own needs to help one another. On Wednesday, Ali Whittall, who always plays a huge part in the morning sessions, narrated the story of the paralysed man, whose friends really went the extra mile to help him get to Jesus. It would take too long to explain just how Superman, Ghostbusters and Wonder Woman made it into that story – ask someone who was there!
On Thursday, Terry Blackman directed our Young Helpers’ drama, showing how Mary and Martha differed in their priorities, and prompting us to ask ourselves if we always get it right. Finally, on Friday, wonderful storyteller Ken Tombs told us about Ananais, who despite his own initial dislike of Saul, agreed to guide him when God asked him to. That got us thinking about judging others, and how we choose our friends.
Each day, the story was followed by the usual mix of group time, crafts, outings and sports – and all the week’s activities were celebrated at our Grand Finale event on Friday evening.
The children were busy throughout the week; but a great many helpers worked hard before, during and after the week itself, just to make it happen. Beforehand, they prepared the URC premises, printed workbooks and other materials, planned trips, craft activities and much more; during the week it was non-stop for group and craft leaders and helpers, those in the kitchen serving refreshments, and those out on the trips; and afterwards, all needed tidying up, putting away, and the URC restored to its more usual state in time for Sunday’s service! Huge thanks are owed to this army of volunteers for the help they give each year. Holiday Club couldn’t happen without you.
Among the Coordinating Team, Gayle Metcalfe stood down this year, and leaves with our special thanks for all her hard work. Jackie Hoey has taken over from Gayle and will be working with Terry and me to set things in motion for 2012. Mark Monday 23rd July in your diary – see you then at the URC!
More Holiday Club pictures inside...
FROM ST GILES’ CLERGY
A few days on from the ‘London Riots 2011’, I thank God that peace and calm have returned to troubled communities. Nothing justifies the violence, looting, damage to other people’s property, or the trashing of a neighbourhood. This outburst of anarchy and challenge to law and order has left me wondering what, if anything, was the motive behind it.
No doubt over the next few days, weeks and months, analysis of the causes of these riots will occur, and although a lot of young people were involved, there were others who do not fit into this stereotype. Concern has already been expressed about gang culture in our cities, and how this might have contributed to the spread of this violence, and how this is fuelled by a strong human need to belong. Historically, churches have provided a place of belonging, and it has been great to hear how churches have opened their doors as a place of refuge and hope in the midst of the turmoil. Recently, the London Diocese has partnered with the Children’s Society to develop a youth strategy to support parishes as they create and maintain Youth Communities attached to churches throughout London. This is only a relatively small contribution to helping young people feel valued, but a very timely development in the light of what has taken place recently.
Elsewhere in this edition of ICN, you can read about the dedication service for the IGNITE Youth Community, launched by the churches in Ickenham and Harefield. Our hope and prayer is that IGNITE will become a place of belonging for young people in our midst.
Of course, churches aren’t unique providers of places where people can belong and feel valued. But churches are undergirded by beliefs which give a strong foundation to community: all people are made in the image of God and have equal value; Jesus died for all and no-one is beyond the reach of his love, mercy, forgiveness and transforming power. The strap-line of New Wine, an organisation that supports the ministry of churches, summarises well the role of churches in society – local churches changing nations.
I believe there is always hope for Britain through faith in Jesus Christ.
FROM THE URC ELDERS
A year ago in Chile, 33 miners became trapped in the San Jose mine. The support, friendship and strong community they formed should be an inspiration to us, even here in Ickenham which has a strong community feel of its own. But those miners built something more – their friendships will last a lifetime. This year our Churches’ Holiday Club focused on friendship and the strong bonds that are built through shared experience.
One of the stories we heard during the week was of Ruth’s Journey. Naomi, her husband and two sons were Israelites who had to leave their home in Bethlehem because of famine. They travelled to Moab and settled there. Naomi’s sons eventually married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. But Naomi’s husband died and so too did both her sons, leaving all three women widows. After a time Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem, and she told her daughters-in-law to return to their previous homes as well. Orpah took Naomi’s advice but Ruth refused. She told Naomi “I’m not going away from you, I’m going with you. If that means leaving my home and family, I will. You are my family now.” So Ruth and Naomi journeyed back to Bethlehem. There they supported one another and eventually Ruth remarried.
The full story can be found in the Old Testament book of Ruth. It was one of June’s E100 readings if you’ve been following those. (This month’s readings are given on page 6.)
Naomi didn’t turn Ruth or Orpah away, she welcomed them into her family and home. When her sons died she told them to do what she thought was best. Ruth though, chose a different way, not wanting to let Naomi be alone. I don’t know how much persuasion it took, but Ruth didn’t give up and eventually Naomi gave in.
The miners and their supporters up top didn’t give up, struggling with ways of rescue until the right solution was found. God doesn’t give up on us either; we can travel what we believe is far away from him. But we only need to turn around to realise he is still near at hand and he is someone who will never turn us away.
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 bereavement visitors. The next meeting is on Monday 19th September (then Monday 17th October). Just come along, or ring the Rectory (622970) to talk to someone first.