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


Anglican Alliance

Caritas Internationalis

Catholic Charities USA

Community of Sant’Egidio

Dominicans for Justice and Peace


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.


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.


Project Update: Training to Build Marginalised Women’s Capacity in Vegetable Farming

In 2015, the Bishop’s Appeal provided Feed the Minds with a grant of £12,627 for their rural development project in Cameroon. Working through their partner, the International Centre for Environmental Education and Community Development (ICENECDEV), they are providing training to marginalised women in vegetable farming to improve their productivity through new skills, including basic literacy.

Achievements so far

Having completed its second year, the project has been a huge success and has met all of its objectives. Since commencement in 2015, 100 women and 5 men across three villages have gained solid functional literacy skills in vegetable farming. They are now able to identify important words related to market and vegetable information, including recognising labels for fertilizers and other farming products.

Ongoing training workshops are also teaching the community about good agriculture management, land preparation, post-harvest handling and pest control. As a result, production has increased by 102% on average, and annual incomes have also doubled. Thanks to irrigation and soil improvement techniques, many farmers have been able to increase the size of their farms, which will create more employment in the long run. Likewise, the higher incomes will provide greater opportunities for the whole community, including enabling parents to send their children to school.

For more information, visit their website here

General Synod Mission Breakfast Talk 2016

I’m going to ask you a question and I want you to allow your mind to bring forth as many answers large and small to that question. Are you ready?  What do you value?

Where your treasure is, there your heart is also. What you value, is an integral part of what you build your life on – your principles, your foundations.

Throughout the Bible, and here I reference Psalm 97, God’s foundation, or the foundation of his throne or his Lordship is righteousness and justice. Righteousness is understood here as right living and right relationships.  And without them, there can be no justice.

With that as our base, The Five Marks of Mission are:

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation

If I were to summarise those our mission is restoration of right relationships. Right relationships with ourselves, with others, with God and with creation. That is our mission.

And so mission becomes a lifestyle of right relationships, a series of choices founded on values that create habits, a decision to be wholly responsive –  not just as a donor or as an evangelist –  to a God of right relationships and justice.  It is a life of Shalom – of right relationships.

If mission is a lifestyle then it involves us asking ourselves daily: ‘How can I live to love God and love others?’ How can I live a life of doing to others as I would have done to me? and ‘how can I live simply so that others can simply live?’ We were made for interconnection, we were made for interdependence.  God designed us that way.  Our lifestyles must reflect that reality.  Do we value our role as consumers and hoarders and accumulators more than our role as humans or Christians?

I was chatting to several people who work for mission agencies and asked them what mission is ALL of them spoke of mission as journeying together along the way as companions.  I read a great article recently about university students in Kampala Uganda being so moved by gun violence and mass shootings that they –planned to apply for visas, move to the States, set up an NGO and lobby for gun reform.  American students were asked what they thought of such actions.  The responses were that the concerns were sweet and well-intentioned but ultimately ignorant as the issue was so much more complex than the Ugandan students realised.  Yet, this is exactly how Western countries and churches have responded to complex problems overseas for decades!  But here, as I chatted with mission agencies, the imagery of the Road to Emmaus was being evoked: In journeying together we discover Jesus.  But they also spoke of mission being something that takes place and is rooted in its own context – there is no 1 size fits all.   So when we explore the Church of Ireland’s relationship to mission – we do mission in our own context and we walk alongside those doing mission in overseas contexts and in doing so we discover together more about Jesus.

Tearfund gave this wonderful example of how journeying with others allows great things to happen:

MDG 2011 Horn of Africa famine


Although the media is not giving it much attention, there has been a slow onset drought and resulting famine in the horn of Africa. The authoritative Famine Early Warning system has been using a figure of 15 million for Ethiopia alone. Also Eritrea, Somalia and Kenya are affected. Various regions are in a state of Emergency (IPC Phase 4), meaning that they are unable to access adequate food for survival and face an increased risk of malnutrition and mortality.” This is just one step away from famine.

And the situation is complex. The Port of Djibouti, through which most foreign grain must flow, is unlikely to be able to handle the volumes. “It manages usually around 500,000 tons per month. Can it deal with an additional 2 million tons, and with what kinds of delay?”  Ethiopia’s natural gateways to the sea are closed as they are Eritrean ports which have lain idle since the border war between the two countries (1998 – 2000).

Ethiopia’s “biblical” famines of 1973 – 74 and 1984 – 85 left hundreds of thousands dead, probably around 200,000 and 400,000 respectively. Since the first of these tragedies, the population of Ethiopia has quadrupled – from around 26 million in 1973 to around 100 million today. Highland farms (tiny patches of land, eroded by decades of intensive agriculture and subdivided down the generations) can barely feed a family in the best of times.

Even in normal years some 7 or 8 million Ethiopians require international food aid to survive.   This year el-Nino and the drought it has brought has exacerbated the situation. But these droughts are cyclical and it was inevitable.  For Ethiopia, the picture is not entirely negative. The country has enjoyed rapid economic growth in recent years.  The authorities have greater resources to draw upon. And Ethiopia recently signed a border agreement with Kenya that could allow increased aid to be brought in by road.  But no one should underestimate the impact of the drought and the looming threat of famine. There are warnings that the humanitarian caseload could exceed the Syrian crisis.

Self Help Groups that were set up by local Tearfund staff in 2002 and that have the local churches at the heart of their organisation and expansion have become a source of support for each other during the drought. Over 12,000 groups affecting over 1 million people in 2 districts who have built resilience over several years (funds have been saved, grain stores built, drought resistant crops grown) and there is shared wisdom as they advise each other as a network on surviving this drought.  You cannot tell me, that a visible church, rolling up its sleeves to serve the community and prepare the community for crisis is not a beautiful example of mission and we walked alongside, by supporting them and Tearfund in that process.  And we can learn from them.

That is just 1 example of local mission with which we have partnered. We are journeying with them as they respond in their context by bringing the practical Good News of the Gospel, of a life of flourishing and transformation, even amidst hardship and suffering.  If your parish or diocese is not journeying with companions from around the world in this form of mission and support of mission, can I suggest to you explore that possibility.  Can I also repeat that we cannot know the fullness of Christ without discovering him together with ‘all the saints.’  We need each other.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _


Now I want to focus on the 4th and 5th marks of mission – transforming unjust structures, challenging violence and safeguarding the integrity of creation.   Systems and structure built on broken relationships – on abusing power, on exploiting the majority of the world instead of nurturing them – on looking for ways to benefit the few regardless of who suffers, demanding choice and comfort regardless of whose backs are broken or who is enslaved to obtain these wants and comforts – these systems and structures are not glorifying God, are not giving life, are not allowing fullness of life and human flourishing, are not doing to the others as we would like done to the Self.  So then we must say that these systems are dysfunctional and will and DO breed injustice. They are in direct contradiction to the Lordship of God  – right relationship  – there can be no justice without right relationships.

Our economic systems globally are weighted in favour of the rich and the powerful. They often take God’s intended design for interconnection and interdependence and distort them to create disconnection with the only connections are exploitation for personal gain.

Will we ignore the call to be a thorn in the flesh, to have a prophetic rage about such injustices occurring right in front of us – the vast accumulation of wealth and tax breaks and exploitation of workers, the destruction and pollution of creation and the loss of homes and land and livelihoods because of shady landgrabs for cash crops and mining, zero contract hours and greed and hoarding of the 1%?

As a Church will we speak out even when we know that we benefit from these systems and the transformation of them will be costly to us?

Will we speak truth to power even if it is unpopular and even if we don’t feel our own house is in order?

Will we mobilise to take action for the rights of the majority of the world who are oppressed and dispossessed? And will we persist in our mission, even as things are slow to change and make it a lifestyle choice to live in solidarity with the poor and the suffering?

This is what it means to be the Church. This is what it means to be followers of Christ.  This is what it means to be caught up in God’s mission and not busying ourselves with our own agendas.

‘Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the binds that enslave, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?’ Isaiah 58:6

The EU spends 11 billion on icecream per year whilst the global economy spends only 6 billion on access to basic education.   We in the West waste almost same amount of food each year that the entire continent of Africa produces – approx. 222 million tonnes/230 million tonnes.  And when I learnt that fact I was began to explore where we grow this food that we waste – much of it is in developing countries on land that has been acquired by very corrupt deals – making entire communities homeless and exporting for supermarket chains when countries grown in are in drought or food insecurity – much of it to rot in our fridges, to be thrown out of our restaurants and supermarkets.  And then we send funds to the landless communities struggling with food security.  It’s not about being paupers, it’s about being intentional consumers – and multinationals are complex and difficult to trace but as we become more intentional, the market must reflect what we want.

A request for funding was granted by Bishops’ Appeal for a project in Zambia that aimed identify people in several communities, bring them together, form co-ops and produce peanut butter and sunflower oil. The goal of the projects was to see these families be able to earn $1 per day and be food secure for 6 months of the year.  It is difficult not to be moved by such levels of destitution and respond.  At the same time, the Irish Times published an article about sugar tax deals in Zambia.  Large multinational corporations route their profits through the IFSC in Dublin to avail of Ireland’s tax breaks for big corporations and pay virtually no tax in Zambia.  This is literally and legally siphoning millions of euro worth of taxes the Zambian Government could use for social reform to the pockets of the already wealthy and powerful.  We cannot just respond to the destitution, we must be willing to respond to the unjust systems and structures that perpetuate the destitution.  We are a Church that is known for what it is against; it’s time we stood up and spoke out about what we are FOR – we are for the marginalised, the vulnerable and the voiceless.  We are for justice and for the restoration of right relationships as foundations for our global systems and structures.

There are Christian campaigns for tax justice, for fairer tax policies globally that curb the power of massive corporations and billionaires and ensure they pay fair taxes that can be used for social reform in countries. There are campaigns against Gender based violence, against unfair trade deals and trade policies, against exploitation of labour in the garment industry.  Anglican Alliance has links to many and by the end of the Summer Bishops’ Appeal website will to.  – we can add our voices and our intentional consumerism to those causes.

‘Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless.  Not to speak is to speak.  Not to act is to act.’ Dietrich Bonhoeffer  who also said that we are not simply to bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.’

Not another meeting, not another empathetic sermon, not another theology of compassion. Action


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Currently when we talk about speaking out and taking action, nothing is more prevalent in our minds than the refugee crisis. The global refugee crisis has now grown to 60 million people worldwide – over half are children, 86% of whom are living or surviving in developing countries.  6% are in Europe.  There are 3 main categories of forced migrants: economic refugees, environmental refugees and war refugees.  Most is human made disaster, destruction and destitution.  It is the overwhelming but inevitable consequence of human activity.  What is the Holy Spirit saying to us and asking of us in this defining issue of our time?  Spirit of God who hovered over the waters and brought order out of chaos.  The invisible but ever present participant in every encounter always prompting us to a higher calling, to a more sacrificial way of loving.  So often, we ignore that prompting and choose self love, comfort and ease instead.  We quieten and dampen and silence the prompting of the Spirit.  The world sees people as having rights and status if they are a member of a sovereign state and have citizenship.  Those that don’t have these credentials are being treated as ‘illegal’ and are being dehumanised and treated as less than human.  The Holy Spirit is calling us to see those who are fleeing as having rights and status simply because they are humans made in the image and likeness of God.  I believe He is also challenging us to look with fresh eyes at our own sense of deservedness, our own status and possessions, our own sense of entitlement.  And to look beyond ourselves and beyond our own circles and our own boundaries to look for our brother, to look for our sister.

And so we speak out for the rights of the dispossessed. Christian Aid have examples of how you can do that available in the prayer room today.  A press release went out to the Church regarding accommodation.  Local parishes are engaging and collaborating with local refugee response community groups and I cited some examples in an article in Search which is coming out in June.  United Society who were supported by Bishops’ Appeal in their work on behalf of the diocese of Europe are here and can tell you about the ongoing work in Greece and Hungary.  Tearfund and Christian Aid can speak of their work in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan, which cannot be ignored – our attention cannot be diverted from the hub of the crisis when World Food Programme budget is less than half what it should be to keep people fed and alive.  We can only ask that God expand the boundaries of our love.  Other agencies such as CMS Ireland are responding to the global refugee crisis, not just the crisis in the middle east.  Our welcome for the stranger remembers that Jesus reached out for the marginalised, the vulnerable, even the illegal and the undeserving and calls us to extend our boundaries of love in the same way.

Mission as relationship and the restoration of relationship. Mission as lifestyle and intentional living.  Mission as journey in companionship with others.  Mission as responding in our own context, speaking out to transform unjust systems and structures even if it is costly.

May we live a life of value. May the things we value be foundations on which we build strong lives of faith and action, free from hoarding and greed and selfishness and entitlement.  May our lives be worthy of the calling we have received.

And may we be willing to engage regardless of the cost so that we can discover Jesus together.

Malawi Monitoring & Evaluation Visit Part 1

The Bishops’ Appeal Advisory Committee has supported the Tearfund IMPACT project on several occasions through multiple donations that have reached €20,000.  The Committee was encouraged by reports of the success of the programme regarding the decrease to the point of eradication of Parent to Child HIV transmission.  The committee was also interested in Tearfund’s approach, which mobilises church and community leaders to identify the needs and the resources within the community to respond through its own means.

Education Advisor Lydia Monds visited the projects in Malawi to evaluate the work, listen to stories from community leaders and beneficiaries and to hear from the various groups where they would like to see the programmes develop on into the future.


Martha is a mother buddy from Ekwendeni. This means several things.  First, it means she has been trained to work with expecting parents to radically reduce parent to child transmission of HIV through a diligent programme of anti-natal clinic visits, HIV testing, ARVs and nutrition.  Martha is supported by wider voluntary care groups in the community who identify pregnant women for her to visit and through initial and refresher training she receives by Tearfund partners.  She started this role as an understudy before receiving her own clients, numbering 138.  Being a Mother Buddy also means that Martha is HIV positive and her desire to support other mother’s is borne out of the transformation such a programme has brought to her own life.   She shared with us that her 1st child was born HIV+ but after the programme her 2nd child was born HIV-.


One of the most important and difficult tasks that Martha has is convincing the fathers of the unborn babies to attend anti-natal clinic. Within Ingoni culture, pregnancy, birth and young babies are not a man’s concern.  The child is owned by the father and cared for by the mother.  The desire to have both parents involved goes beyond the need to cultivate support networks for an expecting mother.  At the clinic both parents can get tested for HIV/AIDS and syphilis together and can receive counselling if one or both of them are positive.  Women who are tested on their own are not only unlikely to tell their partner their status, but are also unlikely to return to the clinic.  Home births without any anti-natal support drastically increases maternal and child mortalities.

Fathers who had engaged with the programme spoke of fears and suspicions being alleviated as to why their wives took so long at the clinic. Together they were given information on everything from nutrition, rest, hygiene, and family planning and if one forgets the other can remind.  Initially many men went because they heard there were board games available to play whilst their wives were being examined, and because it put their wives to the top of the clinic queue.  Gradually though, with marriage counselling and discussion, they began to see their role in the process.  Several men spoke of collecting firewood or carrying water or even cooking the family meal for the first time, with a new understanding that the unborn baby was their responsibility as well.

Martha teaches couples how to make maize meal porridge with added eggs and legumes for a balanced nutritious meal and prepares mother’s for birth. (This support is also provided by ‘Group Therapy’ run by Care Groups who alert Mother Buddies to a pregnancy in their village She then teaches a strict baby diet of breast milk for the first 6 months only introducing supplements later. She teaches about how to stay malaria free.  New-borns are tested at 6 weeks and then again at 12 and 24 months.  So far, all HIV positive parents in her care have given birth to HIV negative children.

Tricon and Loveness gave birth to HIV negative Catherine in March 2015. Their older child, Benjamin, is 11 years old and HIV positive.  Realities such as these are painful reminders of what life is like in the absence of the IMPACT programme.  The couple were also identified as vulnerable through a Consortium of village chiefs and church leaders (17 denominations work together in this catchment area to identify those most in need of training and support) and were given chickens.  The eggs provide nutrition as well as an income and they use the manure to fertilise their vegetables and maize.

On paper, the IMPACT project phased out after 3 years on 31st October 2014.  However, the structures that were put in place in the community have ensured that it has continued in many forms.  For example, 110 pregnant women have attended the clinic, 98 of whom have been accompanied by their husbands.  Of the 3 women who were HIV+, all have given birth to HIV- babies.  The Consortium of village and church leaders have also been made aware of particularly vulnerable families and have continued to support them through a united effort, irrespective of the needy family’s denomination.  The support is holistic as outlined below.

Emergencies: The consortium provides ox carts and bicycles for expecting mothers who need to get to the clinic in times of emergency.

Conservation Farming: Key village workers attended Conservation farming training in Zimbabwe. After the flash floods that devastated so many homes came one of the worst droughts people can remember in the last decade.  Through simple yet very precise techniques, people who followed conservation farming methods got to reap a harvest, whilst traditional farming methods did not produce any food.  Added to this, conservation farming, called ‘Farming God’s Way’ in some of the villages, replenishes the soil of its depleted nutrients, prevents topsoil erosion and reduces and then eliminates the use of chemical fertilisers, which drastically reduces costs for the farmer.  It also is a lot less labour intensive.  Once your fields have been prepared the first year, the method can be redone without tilling or weeding and so enables elderly and disabled farmers to produce harvests without high levels of discomfort.  In the top left picture Gift is showing us his field covered in dried maize stalks which keeps in the moisture.  All farmers explained the method in the same precise way, with strings used to measure distances between planting stations and rows of maize.  All of them saw the benefits and are now beginning to expand the method to other crops.  Gift is going further and training other farmers, bringing them to his field to show them the differences between the crops grown traditionally and those grown through conservation.