We publish a monthly newsletter, The Pelican, mostly written by our Rector, Alan Carr. Here is a selection of the news from this month’s edition. If you would like to be added to the mailing list, please contact Alan.
First Sunday Giving
The Leprosy Mission returns as our First Sunday cause in September, to coincide with our Patronal Festival and the origins of St Giles in the relief of those with the condition, way back in 1101.
The Leprosy Mission exists to minister in the name of Jesus Christ to the physical, mental, social and spiritual needs of individuals and communities disadvantaged by leprosy; working with them to uphold human dignity and eradicate leprosy. Despite its strong Christian inspiration, the Leprosy Mission serves people regardless of religion or ethnicity.
How can I begin to thank sufficiently all those who made my Collation service possible and memorable? I am very grateful to Bishop Richard, Acting-Archdeacon Philip, to Jonathan, Iestyn, and all those who sang, to Thomas and Wil our Wardens, to our guest virger Tony from St Martin-in-the-Fields, and to everyone who played a part in offering that glad hospitality which makes a church come alive. I also acknowledge with gratitude the ministry of Joseph Gabor in my absence during July.
Suzanne and I are grateful for the many messages of good will and welcome. Thank you.
Harry Amos was confirmed at The Temple Church by Bishop Richard on 26th July. Harry wanted a service as close to the Book of Common Prayer as he could get, and he was not disappointed. We welcome him. Congratulations are also in order for Jonathan Bunney, our director of music and organist, for becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists (FRCO), a wonderful achievement.
The Buried Treasure Bible Reading Group
We are continuing our reading of Luke’s Gospel at present at the Bible group. Due to my coming and going I’m afraid the only date I am at St Giles on a Tuesday in September is the 8th. Normal service will be resumed come October. All are welcome.
Living with Dementia
This is the title of an evening exploring the themes of Dementia and Faith, being held from 7 – 9pm on Tuesday, 15th September at St Martin-in-the-Fields. Those with experience of the condition, or simply wishing to understand it better, are very welcome to join Neil Bunker, Mental Health Chaplain, Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin’s, and others. A donation of £5 is suggested.
The first weekend of September brings around our Patronal Festival and with it the annual Agricultural Fayre. Once again we are grateful to Jane, Chris and friends from Phoenix Gardens for dreaming this up some years ago and organising it once again this year. It is on Saturday, 5th September from 12 noon until sometime between 5.30 and 6pm.
The fair is a great way to get a feel for the community on our doorstep and I would like to encourage everyone to come along if they can, not only to show support but to enjoy it for themselves. Also, congratulations of Phoenix Garden finally getting approval for the building of a new education centre. Building will begin very soon.
I promised S. that I would write something about immigration, Calais and the Boat people. So I will. We all make mistakes, he says, but at least let them arise from our humanity and not our inhumanity, from what is best in us rather than from what is less than best. It’s a good principle. He laments the language and pronouncements of some in government, who seem more interested in appeasing the readership of daily red-top newspapers than in examining evidence. S. is not alone, but he feels helpless.
So I found some figures. Contrary to popular opinion, most people floating around the Mediterranean are fleeing war and violence (62% according to the UN) and are not simply after a free welfare hand out; contrary to popular opinion, the numbers seeking entry through Calais represent only 1% of the total of all those who have arrived in Europe; contrary to popular opinion, the numbers of people who have entered the European Union so far this year represent a mere 0.027% of its total population; contrary to popular opinion, it is some of the poorest countries that have taken in significant numbers of refugees, not the wealthiest (Lebanon houses 1.2 million Syrian refugees); and so on.
Figures are one thing, of course, and sense impressions (young men running to board lorries) quite another. But the gulf between the former and the latter is greater than you would expect. So something else must be at work, some prior disposition for us to doubt the intentions of other, obviously desperate people that makes us feel ‘overrun’ or ‘an easy target’ and that brings out a latent xenophobia among us.
Calais is problematic, as are those on boats, but the ‘problem’ must reside as much in us as in them; after all, we are far from being a poor country. S. is right to lament and wring his hands. Surely somewhere between anyone and no one can be found a humanitarian response that appeals to the very best in our heritage and culture and that doesn’t drive those of us (I include myself) who try to abide by the rubric of ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ totally insane.
[Well, if nothing else, I have kept my promise to S.]