Some time ago I mentioned a project to create a space at the west end of the church where younger children and their parents or carers could drop in to play, read and spend some time together through the week. With the valued help of a local mother, I am pleased to say this is finally going to appear and that on Saturday 13 August.
Richard Fisher, a long-time member of the St Giles congregation, urges us to remember the work of the Missions to Seafarers in our prayers on their annual Sea Sunday (which this year falls in the 10th July):
‘I suspect that for most of the congregation at St Giles, their only acquaintance with danger at sea is the prayer for “those in peril on the sea” in the familiar hymn, which nowadays tends to be sung rather rarely only on special occasions. At St Giles we do, of course, remember different charities throughout the year . . . but I wonder if only for this year we might remember one more charity on one day in particular.
‘It is now 160 years since The Missions to Seafarers was founded, and which today supports the work of Chaplains in ports all over the world, bringing support and comfort to seafarers, drawn from nations across the world, who lead lonely lives as their shops pass ever more quickly from one port to another in the course of international trade. We forget that most the food and goods which we depend on from other countries arrive not by air but by sea, and that our exports, on which our trade similarly depends, are transported in exactly the same way.
‘Now that most goods also travel by container, and not as loose cargo, ships no longer spend several days in port unloading and loading. Many container ships routinely turn round in port in 24 hours, and their crews have little chance of escaping the confines of cramped accommodation within steel hulls and a steel deck. This is where port Chaplains provide invaluable help by visiting ships, listening to problems of a crew who may speak only their own native language, and providing them with means of phoning their relatives at home, and helping them with difficulties which can arise in matters of maritime law with less reputable owners and captains. The Chaplain can take up serious issues with harbour masters and local port authorities which the crew themselves would not dare to do, even if they knew how.
‘In this [160th] anniversary year I am therefore taking the liberty of bringing Sea Sunday to your attentions, not asking for funds from a congregation already pressed to make provision for enough charities already, but in the hope that you might include some prayers for the Mission [which we shall, of course, do]. The story of Ernest Shackleton [contained in some worship literature] reminds us, as only someone’s personal experience can, of the ever present closeness of God in one’s life, as I can also attest from my own experience.
‘P.S. One chaplain said recently that finding a crew was unexpectedly delayed in port by repairs to their ship, he asked them what they would most like to do. To his astonishment they said they would like to be taken somewhere where they could walk in their bare feet on grass. After months on a steel deck they longed for the feel of grass under their feet again.’
The Buried Treasure Bible Group
In July we are meeting on Tuesdays 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th at 1pm, usually in the Vestry House.