Rev William Steacy Addresses Meath & Kildare Diocesan Synod

Report to Diocesan Synod 7th October 2017
(Rev William Steacy, Bishops Appeal Representative, Meath & Kildare Diocese)

Bishop Pat, and members of Synod, I want to speak to you briefly about Bishop’s Appeal.

Bishops’ Appeal was originally set up to contribute to the relief of suffering and poverty overseas.
It is like an intermediary;
it receives money from parishes and dioceses and distributes it via charitable organisations to those in need.

It channels funds towards humanitarian emergencies like for example the current Rohingya Muslem refugee crises in Bangladesh.

Our Diocese has been faithful in contributing to various appeals over recent years,
we have given to:
– the earthquake disaster in Nepal,
– the East African Famine Crises and
– the Syrian Refugee Crises.

Bishops’ Appeal also supports niche projects in areas such as
education, health and rural development.
A few years ago we as a diocese supported the
the Christian Aid Agogo Dairy appeal in Haiti.

But I suppose the one project that has been most prominent in recent years has been the Good for the Sole Project which started in February 2015.

I have been part of the working group which planned and steered this project.
It has been an amazing journey. Right from the start this project took off and caught the imagination of many people.

The idea of giving €5 for two pairs of protective sandals to help a Leprosy sufferer in India was easy for people to grasp.
Many Parishes, schools and individuals got involved and €22,630 was raised by the end of 2015.
The target of 10,000 sandals (or €25,000) was reached by Easter 2016 with a few thousand Euro to spare.
This was a wonderful achievement and we celebrated it in Trim Cathedral in April 2016.

We then moved on to Phase 2 where we were asking people to sponsor corrective surgeries at €50 per operation.


Dr Jerry Joshua, who was working with the leprosy mission in India came over in June last year to launch Phase 2 in Kildare Cathedral. He spoke about the process of taking fat tissue from one part of the body and relocating it to where it was needed around the foot.

By the end of last year €30,720 was raised – this was the equivalent of sponsoring 614 surgeries.
After Easter this year, a team of 12 people from the diocese went out to India to see where the money was being used (no doubt some of you have already heard reports of their experiences).
By the end of June, the Diocese had handed over an extra €10,661 to Bishops’ Appeal giving a grand total of the sponsorship of 827 operations.

We have been told that the Leprosy Mission has now enough funding to carry out foot surgeries in their hospitals in India for the next 2 ½ years that’s up to 2020. So we are delighted.

 

The Good for the Sole project has been a great success so we say a big thank you to all those parishes, schools and individuals that got involved.
We would especially want to thank Rhonda Willoughby for all the work she did in producing the Food for the Sole Cook books, which obviously raised a lot of money for the project.

I estimate that from February 2015 to June 2017 the diocese has raised over €66,000 for the Good for the Sole project.

Why was this project so successful –
why did people respond to it so enthusiastically and give so generously?

I came across a number of points in the Church of Ireland Generous Giving Programme literature recently, and it struck a cord with me. It said and I quote:

People give generously when they understand that giving is rooted in discipleship and worship.
They give generously when they clearly know what their money is being used for.
And they give generously when they can see that it is making a difference.

So thank you on behalf of Bishops’ Appeal for all your generosity.
Thank you

William Steacy

Harvest Appeal

Click here for Appeal Letter: +Patrick Rooke Bishops Appeal Harvest Letter

All Age Sermon Outline: Back to School Time

The Extraordinary Life of a Pencil:

Exploring our interconnected world, our potential in the hands of God and literacy projects supported through Bishops Appeal, this sermon outline has a lot to offer!
Originally for use in conjunction with the Cashel, Ferns and Ossory Diocesan Link Projects which focus on literacy in Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia, it can also be used to explore a variety of themes and biblical principles by any church or group.

For the Sermon Outline click here: The Extraordinary Life of a Pencil

For the Powerpoint click here: The Extraordinary Life of a Pencil

Welcoming the Stranger: World Refugee Week, Day 5

Focus on Cyprus

A cookery class: ten nationalities were represented and they were taught a traditional Egyptian dish.

This week, during World Refugee Week, the Anglican Alliance is showcasing examples where Anglican and Episcopal churches around the world are responding to refugees with practical assistance, welcoming refugees in to their communities and discovering mutual enrichment through this engagement.

Food: The International Language

Last month in Cyprus a new initiative began at St Barnabas Church, Limassol within the Diocese of Cyprus & the Gulf to help, enable and encourage migrants and refugees living in the area to integrate more effectively, whilst making them feel valued and welcomed. The initiative was thought up by Revd Christine Goldsmith and Claire Loizides, an ecumenical partner who heads up the St Catherine’s Catholic Agapi migrant centre in Limassol. The initiative involves migrants, refugees, members of St Barnabas congregation and St Catherine’s Catholic church coming together to teach each other how to cook each other’s national dishes. Funding has been granted by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s fund to enable this idea to become a reality.

The first session involved three Egyptian ladies teaching others gathered how to make one of their traditional dishes. Seventeen ladies joined in from 10 different nationalities including Syrian, Afghani, Egyptian, Filipino, Columbian, Italian, and not forgetting English and Welsh!

Refugees from across Cyprus from Pafos, Limassol and Kofinou camp joined in the fun. Despite the language barriers everyone enjoyed themselves and were able to communicate through the food as well as the laughter and smiles.

One member of St Barnabas Church who joined in the sessions said, “It has been a wonderful fun filled morning and a great pleasure to spend time with these special ladies, as well as tasting such amazing food.”

It is hoped these classes will continue and grow so that many more may join over the coming months.

Anglicans from the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf have been supporting refugees and asylum seekers in Cyprus for a number of years in practical and imaginative ways within the local context in Cyprus. Volunteers from across Cyprus have given time and resources to work as part of the team of volunteers at Kofinou refugee camp, along with volunteers from other organisations. Together they have established a volunteers distribution centre where donations can be organised and processed and so that welcome packs and toiletries, clothing, and items for children, along with other necessary items, can be distributed to those in need.

Other ways in which the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf has responded is to distribute Christmas shoeboxes with presents to the camp residents, and to collect donations of books in Arabic and Farsi to provide books for children to receive education in their own language and to give alternative activities for adult readers

Welcoming the Stranger: World Refugee Week, Day 4

Focus on Canterbury

The local community joined together for a time of friendship, fun and music. © Canterbury Diocese.

This week, during World Refugee Week, the Anglican Alliance is showcasing examples where Anglican and Episcopal churches around the world are responding to refugees with practical assistance, welcoming refugees in to their communities and discovering mutual enrichment through this engagement.

In the Diocese of Canterbury in the UK, the church has looked to engage local schools, to equip local professionals and supporters to welcome refugees in the Kent area, and to organise events to bring the local community together in its diversity. The response in Canterbury shows the creative ways in which the local church is responding to refugees in its own context, building partnerships with others and making use of their own local resources.

The Kent Schools of Sanctuary Project has launched to create friendly and welcoming spaces for children to ask questions about migration, and to learn how to be welcoming to everyone. The project has created a webpage of resources to enable teachers to include the topic of asylum and refuge in their lesson plans.

In November 2016 Christian charities in Kent took innovative steps to ensure professionals and supporters in the area are equipped to welcome refugees to the county, particularly unaccompanied children fleeing violence, persecution or conflict.

In a partnership programme named Hat·tê·ḇāh, Christian charities The Children’s Society, Mothers’ Union and Home for Good are partnering together with the Diocese of Canterbury to offer training. This training will ensure the strengths and expertise of each organisation can be used by professionals and volunteers who may come into contact with young refugees.

The Hebrew phrase hat·tê·ḇāh is used in two contexts in the Old Testament, once to describe Noah’s ark, and once for the basket used by Miriam to keep Moses safe in the River Nile. This serves as an appropriate illustration for the training that will be given by frontline workers from The Children’s Society’s refugee and migrant services. It will equip participants to understand and respond to the issues faced by refugee children and improve understanding of their rights and safeguarding needs.

Speaking ahead of the event, Rt. Revd Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover, said: `I’m delighted to support this collaborative initiative. The role of the Church in being an advocate for the lonely, oppressed and the refugee has become more imperative. In a nation facing cut backs in budgets for local authorities, we need to be creative in how we support young refugees who are arriving as well as supporting those who already live in our communities and face significant deprivation. We want to be equipped to offer “hat·tê·ḇāh”, places of safety and refuge for as long as refugee children and young people need them.’

The training was offered to people who may come across refugees in their work, or who might be influencers of others: clergy, family or youth workers, chaplains and pastoral assistants, and professionals within church communities who work closely with vulnerable children: teachers, lawyers and medical professionals. The response to the training had been overwhelming, with over 70 people signed up.

This week the Diocese of Canterbury has taken part in two national initiatives aimed at bringing people together – The Great Get Together weekend (17 to 18 June) and Refugee Week (19 to 23 June) – which are being marked locally by churches and communities across East Kent in June.

The Great Get Together is the idea of the family of the murdered UK MP Jo Cox, and was inspired by her belief that ‘there is more that unites us than divides us.’ In that spirit, the Diocese of Canterbury, in collaboration with Together Canterbury, Migrant Help UK and Canterbury Cathedral, organised a community picnic which took place on Sunday 18 June in Canterbury.

As part of Refugee Week, the Diocese is hosting a film screening of Evaporating Borders – an award-winning documentary about the life of refugees in camps in Lesbos. The film looks at what it means to be displaced, and examines the idea of belonging and notions of diaspora, exile, and migration. An expert panel discussion will follow the film screening discussing the topic of life for refugees in Kent after resettlement.

Welcoming the Stranger: World Refugee Week, Day 3

Focus on Jordan

A girl with intellectual disabilities shows a volunteer the calendar they have made.

 

In Jordan the local church is working to respond to the practical needs of refugees with disabilities living in the refugee camps.

A speech therapy session at the centre. © Anglican Alliance

 

The Holy Land Institute for Deaf and Deaf-blind Children has been working with children with disabilities in Jordan for over 50 years after its foundation by the Episcopal Church in Jordan.

The Holy Land Institute has been an “early responder” in Za’atari refugee camp in the north of Jordan, where 80,000 refugees now live, having been involved with assisting refugees with disabilities and their families since the formation of the camp in 2012.

The wider context in Jordan, as of April 2017, is that 733,210 refugees have been registered in Jordan with UNHCR, with the large majority arriving from Syria (657,621 refugees) and the next largest group from Iraq (62,445 refugees). UNHCR data places Jordan as hosting the second largest number of refugees globally, relative to the size of its population, with 89 refugees for every 1000 inhabitants.

The Holy Land Institute, together with four other organisations making up the Disability Network, runs a disability centre in the camp to provide hearing tests, hearing aids, eye tests and glasses for refugees. The organisations in the network complement each other to provide assistance to cover a range of impairments that cause visual, hearing, physical/mobility and intellectual disabilities, as well as neurological and medical issues.

Since work commenced at the centre more than 3,000 children have received help, together with young and elderly people with hearing, visual or mental disabilities. Each day, 75 children come into the centre to receive help with hearing devices, therapy, education and even just support and friendship from Holy Land Institute staff and the centre’s 14 volunteers.  Specialist staff from the network of Jordanian disability-specific organisations regularly visit the camp.

Isobel Owen, Programme Officer at the Anglican Alliance, and Janice Proud, its Relief Manager, visited the centre in Za’atari refugee camp in April 2017.

Reflecting on the experience, Isobel said: “Within a context of great need, the Holy Land Institute and the Network have responded to the most vulnerable, regardless of faith or nationality, and have brought their expertise and skills in to close a gap in service provision in the camp.”

 

 

 

Welcoming the Stranger: World Refugee Week, Day 2

The blog below is a personal reflection on World Refugee Week by Revd Rachel Carnegie, Co-Executive Director of the Anglican Alliance.

A view of Za’atari refugee camp

Last year I met ‘Binyamin’, a young refugee from Afghanistan, who had fled to Europe when he was just 15. He then spent the next eight years being bounced from one country to another, his asylum applications repeatedly rejected.

It was when he finally he visited a church-based refugee centre in Italy that he was connected with a proper asylum lawyer and was given official status in just two weeks. At last he could settle and begin his life again.

‘Binyamin’ is a talented young man bringing so much to his host community. After his travels he already speaks four European languages as well as his mother tongue. He will be a gift to others wherever he stays.

I thought of ‘Binyamin’ last week during World Refugee Day last week. I thought of the many refugees I have met who have enriched my life with their stories and commitment to making a good future.

Last week we also marked St Alban’s Day. Alban lived in third century Roman Britain. His story tells how one day he gave shelter to a stranger fleeing from persecution – a Christian priest known as Amphibalus. Alban was so touched by the priest’s faith and courage that he asked to learn more about Christianity, at that time still a forbidden religion in Britain. And so Alban became a Christian.

Soon after guards came to arrest Amphibalus. Alban, inspired by his new faith, decided to change clothes with Amphibalus, allowing him to escape. When Alban was brought before the authorities, he refused to worship the Roman gods. He was then martyred. Amphibalus was also arrested and killed.

I find many things very moving in St Alban’s story: that he welcomed a stranger, and in that welcome he encountered Christ in and through his guest. And finally, that he chose to walk in the other’s shoes – to experience the other’s life – literally wearing the shoes and clothes of his guest and taking his martyrdom.

At the Anglican Alliance we are privileged to accompany a number of churches around the Communion who welcome the stranger – reaching out to refugees in their midst, people who have fled danger, conflict and persecution. And in each refugee is a person bringing gifts and vision for life, making a contribution to their new communities.

The cathedral in Cairo Egypt has hundreds of people coming each day, receiving health care, comfort, food and advice. Refugee doctors from South Sudan are part of their health care team. In Canterbury England, the churches support initiatives for unaccompanied refugee children, helping with their resettling in local schools. In the US, Episcopal Migration Ministries has served to resettle thousands of refugees in local communities over many decades. In Amman Jordan, the churches support refugees from Iraq and Syria, running a programme for people with disabilities in the camps and providing comfort and support to Iraqi Christian refugees living in the community. In Rome Italy, a church uses its crypt as a welcome centre for refugees. In Uganda, the churches bring practical and spiritual support to refugees from South Sudan. In Malaysia the churches offer language lessons to refugees.

The examples around the Communion are too numerous to list. Yet when I talk with the local churches I often hear echoes of St Alban’s story: how the churches instinctively reach out to welcome the vulnerable stranger; how in that encounter they meet Christ through and in the stranger, and how in that experience they too are transformed, learning to walk in the shoes of the other and to be blessed by the gifts that the other brings.

“For when I was a stranger you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35)

Revd Rachel Carnegie, Co-Executive Director, Anglican Alliance

Welcoming the Stranger: World Refugee Week, Day 1

This year during World Refugee Week, the Anglican Alliance has joined other Christian bodies to make a common statement on respecting the dignity and rights of refugees.

The Anglican Alliance joined a group of 20 Christian organisations in issuing a statement to mark World Refugee Day. The statement celebrates solidarity and learning, and calls for more shared responsibility the refugee response.
Read the full statement here:
Refugees: An opportunity to grow together

The Christian Bible tells the story of two men, Peter and Cornelius, utterly divided by religious belief and culture, who in encountering each other discovered a truth about God’s common will for them that neither had previously grasped. They learnt that the Holy Spirit brings down walls and unites those who might think that they have nothing in common.

All around the world, women, men, and children are forced by violence, persecution, natural and human-caused disasters, famine, and other factors, to leave their homelands. Their desire to escape suffering is stronger than the barriers erected to block their way. The opposition by some countries to the migration of forcibly displaced people will not keep those who undergo unbearable suffering from leaving their homes.

Wealthy countries cannot evade their responsibility for the wounds inflicted on our planet – environmental disasters, the arms trade, developmental inequality – that drive forced migration and human trafficking. While it is true that the arrival of migrants in more developed countries can present real and significant challenges, it can also be an opportunity for openness and change. Pope Francis poses this question to us: “How can we experience these changes not as obstacles to genuine development, but rather as opportunities for genuine human, social and spiritual growth?” Societies that find the courage and the vision to go beyond the fear of foreigners and migrants soon discover the riches that migrants bring with them, and always have.

If we, as a human family, insist on only ever seeing refugees as a burden, we deprive ourselves of the opportunities for solidarity that are also always opportunities for mutual learning, mutual enrichment, and mutual growth.

It is not enough for Christians to profess to love Christ: belief is authentic only if it is expressed in loving action. We are one Body of Christ, undivided. In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “It is only through Jesus Christ that we are brothers and sisters of one another…. Through Christ our mutual belonging is real, integral, and for all time.” If we are one body, we are knitted into a solidarity that defines us and makes demands of us.

Signs of solidarity can be multiplied beyond the borders of religion and culture. Meeting believers of other persuasions encourages us to deepen our knowledge of our own faith, and in our encounter with our refugee brothers and sisters, God speaks to us and blesses us as He did Cornelius and Peter.

In every genuine encounter, an exchange of gifts takes place. Sharing with others what we have and own, we discover that all is given freely by God. At the same time, in welcoming those whom we encounter, we meet the God who is always already present with the vulnerable, at the peripheries, and in the other.

Increasingly around the world we witness the building of walls to keep out the displaced: not just physical walls, but also walls of fear, prejudice, hatred, and ideology. Let us all, as one human family, strive to build bridges of solidarity rather than walls of division. Our refugee sisters and brothers present us with opportunities for mutual enrichment and flourishing: it is God who brings us together.

With the development of new international frameworks – Global Compacts on Migrants and on Refugees – in 2018, States should not only ensure a more effective responsibility-sharing in response to large movements, but they should also accept the opportunity to recognize and highlight the significant contributions that refugees and migrants make in their host communities.

ACT Alliance

Alboan

Anglican Alliance

Caritas Internationalis

Catholic Charities USA

Community of Sant’Egidio

Dominicans for Justice and Peace

Entreculturas

International Union of Superior Generals (UISG)

Franciscans International

Jesuit Refugee Service

Lutheran World Federation

Pax Christi International

Scalabrinian Missionaries

Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN)

Talitha Kum – Worldwide Network of Religious Life against Trafficking in Persons

Union of Superior Generals (USG)

Vivat International

Voices of Faith

World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations (WUCWO)

World Refugee Day, 20th June 2017

East Africa Emergency Appeal

In an urgent response to the crisis in East Africa, the Bishops’ Appeal has launched an emergency appeal to raise funds for Christian Aid Ireland and Tearfund Ireland, who are working with partners in the regions to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance. It is appealing for contributions from parishes and individuals throughout Ireland to help with the disaster relief efforts.

Photo provided by Christian Aid

Photo provided by Christian Aid

 

Hunger on a massive scale is looming across South Sudan, northern Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, as a combination of drought and conflict have left nearly 20 million people severely food insecure – meaning that they do not have enough food to feed themselves. Kenya and Ethiopia are also on the verge of crisis, with millions in need of humanitarian assistance.

Across these countries, people are in critical need of food, water and health support, with women and children suffering the most. The United Nations has referred to this as the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945, and we cannot stand by and allow the suffering to continue.

South Sudan has been engulfed in a vast humanitarian crisis since violence broke out in 2013. Over 3.4 million people have fled their homes and the land they farmed. Drought in parts of the country has worsened the effects of the ongoing conflict. Nearly five million people do not have enough food and close to 100,000 are in imminent danger of death by starvation.

The crisis in northern Nigeria is one of the most complex and most serious in the world right now. Conflict has forced around two million people from their homes and over five million people do not have enough food, including 2.5 million children under five and their mothers. Around half a million malnourished children could die if they do not get food and medical care immediately.

In Somalia, the main problem now is drought. The country has had less than half its normal rainfall for nearly three years. Crops have withered and animals have died. Experts warn that, without immediate scale up in humanitarian assistance, a situation worse than that of the 2011 famine could unravel in the next few months. So far, nearly 3 million people are severely food insecure.

More people are severely food insecure in Yemen – a staggering 7 million – than anywhere else in the world. Over two million have fled their homes because of ongoing fighting, and two-thirds of them live with host families.

In Kenya, the government declared a national emergency and asked for international support earlier in February 2017. Following the short-rain assessment in January 2017, the number of food insecure people in Kenya has doubled to 2.7 million compared to 1.3 million in August 2016.

Ethiopia is facing the worst drought in half a century and some 5.6 million people require food assistance this year.

Parish and individual donations are encouraged and greatly appreciated at this time. Dates for Parish responses can be chosen locally over the coming weeks and proceeds sent to: Bishops’ Appeal, Church of Ireland House, Church Avenue, Rathmines, Dublin 6.

Queries should be directed to Bishops’ Appeal Diocesan Representatives or to the Education Advisor, Alexandra Reihill bishopsappeal@ireland.anglican.org

Project Update: Fuel Efficient Stoves in Zimbabwe

In April 2015, Bishops’ Appeal funded a project created by Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) to promote and build energy efficient stoves, known as Tsotso stoves, in Seke Ward 3 and Seke Ward 4 in Zimbabwe. These stoves are designed to use fuel more efficiently, so they will heat up and stay warm with less firewood. Deforestation has already made collecting firewood more dangerous and time consuming for the women of the community, so this project sought to free up more time for education and work by reducing their reliance on fuel.

Achievements

The project ran from April 2015 to October 2016, and in that time 30 community members were trained to be Tsotso stove builders. Through their training, and the provisional of some materials by VSO, they were able to build 200 stoves for families in the Seke Ward villages. The main target for this project was vulnerable households, such as child and female headed households, people living with HIV/AIDS, and families with disabled members. These families can now heat their home using less firewood, saving them time and expense, while also improving their environmental health by reducing smoke and soot inside their homes.

The stove builders can also act as advocates of the Tsotso stoves, highlighting their advantages and encouraging more families to use them. This is a really positive development, as it is helping the whole community to rely less on firewood, lowering the rate of deforestation.

For more information about this project, see here.