As part of our series on Micah, where there is an emphasis on God’s justice, we have a couple of visiting speakers coming to us over the next few weeks.
On 29 June we will welcome Marijke Hoek. Marijke has been to our church before and is a friend of many of us. She works for Seedbed, a trust which seed-funds new community projects. She also volunteers with the Micah Challenge, a global coalition of Christians holding governments accountable for the Millennium Development Goals that they signed up to. She is also part of the adjunct faculty of Regents Theological College, where she teaches an Undergraduate and a Masters module on the Christian Engagement with the Poor.
On 13 July Stefan McNally will be with us. Stefan used to work with us here. He then went to work for Habitat for Humanity. Just recently he took up a new post with Compassion UK, the project that sees thousands of children’s education in the Global South being sponsored by their richer brothers and sisters in the West. Quite a few of us have sponsored children for many years. It will be good to get updates and to be reminded of how we can make a real difference to the lives of others.
If you would like to watch this film, it will give you a sense of what is possible:
Since January, Neil, Mary, and Ian have been thinking and praying about the future. Over the years the church has grown from a small group to a church that we strongly believe can see further growth, but for that to happen we will need a different form of structure to take it forward. Therefore, we want to invite all the church to a meeting after church on Sunday 29th June to hear some of the thoughts that we’ve had, and some suggestions that we want to offer for a way forward as we think of extending the leadership structures of the church. What we will do is to offer where our thinking has got us to, make sure that everything is clear, and then have a month for you to pray, ask questions and reflect on what is presented and then we will meet again on Sunday 20th July to gather our reflections, and make the next steps really firm.
We will have lunch together on 29th June, then spend about an hour talking together. We will aim to finish around 2pm. We will record the session, so that if you are away you will hear what is being said.
But please, we need as many people there as possible.
Around 25 years ago, when we met in the building on Liverpool Street, we went through a very exciting and challenging time. In those days we had a Sunday evening service as well as a morning one, though it was always quite small. One evening there were about 20 or so of us worshipping at the front of the church, when about 15-20 teenagers all came into the church building. They were part of a gang that called itself ‘The Young Firm’. Neil stopped the service and asked them to stay where they were at the back of the church and asked the congregation to get one young person each and bring them to the front of the church. We did it!
The kids kept coming back week after week and eventually we started a service just for them at 8pm. It was just 30 minutes, with two songs, a quick thought and some prayer for them. We did this for several months.
It finally came to an end in April 1990 when the Strangeways riots took place. Some of their dads and brothers were involved in the disturbances. Some of the kids tried their own version on our church roof! Then it seemed to be a moment that passed. Who knows what effect it had on some of them. What we do know is that some of them died in the years that followed, victims of violence.
Recently, Shirley was sorting some papers out and came across this poem-prayer she wrote at the time:
[quote]Lord, I dedicate these words to the Jimmys, the Kevs, the Kershys. Help them Father. You love them just as much as you love me. I see them, Lord, walking with outstretched hands, begging, not for money, but for love. Lord, when we reach our hands to them help them to take hold of them instead of backing away in fear. Father God, they are frightened of receiving love. Help them Father to soften their hearts to people who genuinely want to help them.
Our doors are open to them. Let them find the peace of God in these portals. Amen
Didn’t you hear me when I said, ‘I love you Mam’
Were you too busy making the dinner
Didn’t you hear me when I said, ‘Look what I made for you, Dad’
Were you tired after working all day
I heard you both when you said
‘Go out and play, don’t bother us now’.
Didn’t you see when my tears began to fall.
Were you in a hurry Mam to get to the Bingo Hall
Can I come with you Dad, I cried.
You just said no
Didn’t you see me when my tears began to flow
Can you still not hear me, now that I’m grown up
I still cry out, the tears still flow
Can you really not hear, is no one there when I call out
I hear you, when you shout
Somebody heard me, he gave me some pills
He said ‘Get these down you, they’ll cure your ills.’
They did, Mam, they did, Dad
But look at me now
Will no-one ever hear me, I only wanted love.
They still do.[/quote]
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