CRCW News and Events

This week, we hear from Church Related Community Worker; Marie Trubic, who is based at the Priesthill & Shawlands project in Glasgow.

As I write this blog, we are mid-way through the second week of the ‘lockdown’. I'm trying to do what Boris has told us to do. I am not accepting visitors (even gentlemen callers!) into my house, I am keeping people at a two metre distance, I am washing my hands at every opportunity, I am only going into a shop for essentials i.e. bread, milk and tinned sardines. There was a slight panic last week when the shelves were empty of this delicious fish, but stocks have now been replenished (phew!) Rainbow WebCrop

I am also taking my one session of exercise each day, which consists of a brisk walk quite early in the morning, to limit the chances of any social contact. I have followed the same route every day. Sounds boring but I have no sense of direction and so would need to be constantly looking at my ‘phone to correct myself. I also use this time to reflect on days gone by and days to come and being on auto-pilot helps the process.

As the days have gone by, I have noticed that more and more pictures of rainbows are appearing in the windows of the houses and flats that I am passing. Some have even appeared on the pavements. I have no idea who are drawing these, although I suspect that the majority are the work of children.

I have always been fascinated by rainbows, even before I became a Christian, after which they then became more significant. Rainbows are signs, they are signs of hope and they have appeared to have become THE sign of hope in these unsettling times, regardless of whether folk are familiar with the its story in the Hebrew Scriptures.  

Pavement WebCropAt my induction to the ministry, here in Glasgow, I chose the passage from Genesis as the reading for the service. In his sermon on that occasion, Rev’d Vaughan Jones reminded us that the Church has always seen the tale of Noah as a story of salvation, a story that ends with a rainbow.  A rainbow which is a sign of God’s enduring presence with humanity, a rainbow which offers hope for generations to come.

At the moment, it feels as though we, like Noah, are all sheltering from the storm. We no longer know what normal is - or what it will be. But as Christians, in the eye of this storm, we are called to share, in whatever way is appropriate, our hope of that rainbow, of a safer future, of a God that is with us always and who, as our faith tells us, will restore the world.

Read more: Counting Rainbows

Our latest article, by Church Related Community Worker (CRCW) Simon Loveitt, reflects on what it is like trying to serve your community in such unprecedented times. Simon works at the Manor Church and Community Project in Sheffield. Read his reflection here:

What a difference a week makes!

At 5pm on Monday 16th March, we had the first Prime Minister’s Covid-19 daily press conference, and life was about to change.

CRCW’s enable churches to strategically engage with, to transform and to become more relevant to their local neighbourhoods. Much of the work is through face to face meetings.

A week on and my diary has changed dramatically.  I work ecumenically, and the URC, Methodist and Anglican churches have cancelled Sunday worship till further notice.

Instead, Marian and I had our own service at home on Sunday morning.Flower Simon Web2

All user groups at the three churches in the Parish, except essential groups, have now had their sessions cancelled.

Of the two groups that remain, I am chair of Manor After School and Kids Klub (MASKK), a local charity who run after school and holiday provision and run sessions for children with special needs.  This is still running on a reduced service, following the guidelines from Sheffield City Council.

I am also treasurer of the S2 Food Poverty Network, a large, independent Foodbank and Food Club for the S2 community of Sheffield.  We have reduced the days we operate, but are still running.  Demand has increased.  Donations to the Foodbank have increased dramatically.  The difficulty of sourcing enough food from supermarkets to provide food parcels has become a substantial daily challenge.  Change in the supermarket rules means we can only buy three items of one kind.  That is causing us massive logistical challenges.

A Covid-19 appeal for the 20 food banks in Sheffield is about to be launched, which the S2 Food Poverty Network has offered help co-ordinate.

There are questions too of the re-development of the Temple Park Centre.  It has already been a rollercoaster of a few weeks, with increased costs, and asbestos removal to cope with. Now, with the Covid-19 crisis, will building work actually be able to start?  

I end this reflection with the prayer written by Jamie Kissack and Simon Copley for the Sunday morning act of devotion:

Father, help us discern the activity of Your Holy Spirit in our current crisis that we may respond with the love of Your Son, Jesus Christ.

Bring health and healing to all who are unwell and faith and confidence to all who are fearful.
Strengthen and guide all who lead the nations of the world, particularly our Queen and her advisers, our Prime Minister and his cabinet, those who lead the nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and all local government.

Give wisdom, compassion and strength to all in business, farming and public service who have power to provide for us and influence our way of life at this time. We pray, particularly, for strength and health of all who work in our emergency services and our health services and knowledge to those who are researching a cure for the virus.

Be with children as they are sent home from school and help them, along with all who are feeling isolated and under-employed, to use this time creatively. Help mothers who are caring for children at this time.

Help us find ways to give practical support and comfort to all who face financial difficulty, unemployment and loss of businesses.

Guide and lead your church that we may be a light of neighbourly love and care in our communities and a rock of compassion in our nation at this time.

Help us, individually, to respond in Your name and so find the new life of Your Spirit, through whose power you raised Christ from the dead.

Amen

Simon Loveitt

Read more: Covid-19 - A Virtual Church Related Community Worker?

This year, the theme for The United Reformed Church (URC) project at Greenbelt festival is: 'Revolting Christians!'Greenbelt Flyer PICTUREWEB Crop

As usual, we are keen for as many URC folk to be involved as possible, whether it be creating something crafty to go in our festival tent or telling us your stories of Revolting Christians.

Everything you need to know (we hope!) can be found within our Greenbelt flyer, which you can download here. It gives details of what you can make and where to send your wonderful creations to.

We also have a downloadable 'Wanted' poster (pdf) where you can draw or stick a picture of your well known Revolting Christians group or individual. These will be decorating our tent at the festival too.

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You can either post them to us (address on flyer) or email them to revoltingchristian@urc.org.uk. Download the Wanted poster here.

You can find out more about volunteering with us on the Greenbelt 2020 page . The URC at Greenbelt team is seeking 10 additional people to help run a variety of URC activities. A free weekend ticket will be given to those selected to volunteer.

If you think you've got what it takes, please do send us an email and receive an application form.


Please note the closing date for applications is 23 March 2020.

This month we hear from Ann Honey, who is the Church Related Community Worker (CRCW) for the CRCW project at WeLikeYouToo WEBCROP2St. Columba's United Reformed Church in Billingham.

Ann reflects on her first year in Billingham and says: We “get to know” the church we’re working with, the people in and around it – and they “get to know” us. I believe it’s where projects are made – right at the start, when we make the relationships that set the tone and try to work out where the project might lead."

"Community work, as with life, is all about relationships."

Ann shares 3 'little things that are actually 3 really big things' that stay with her and provide an indication of how she is getting on in her first year of this new project. To find out more, Ann's reflection: Getting to know You' can be read here. (PDF)

Read more: Getting to know You...

Church Related Community Worker; Maria JY Lee works with the CRCW project in Chelmsford.
In her new reflection, Maria pantry WebCropMaria shares some worrying statistics, identifying the community she works in as one of the most deprived in the city. Maria says:

"Our neighbourhoods in North Avenue are literally trapped in a cycle of deep poverty. According to a Public Health England report in 2017, life expectancy is 6.7 years lower for men and 2.9 years lower for women in the most deprived areas (e.g. North Avenue). In terms of Child poverty, 28% of all children, in the UK, are living in poverty"
(Child Poverty Action Group 2013/2014 statistics).

With demands on the local food bank high and the subsequent end of the North Avenue Christian Centre as a distribution hub, the team were keen to help. Maria says:

"People’s needs for basic foods and personal care items are high. I wanted to tackle the poverty-related social issues such as child poverty, hardship in lone parent households and mental health-related isolation. The team and I were keen to find effective ways of continuing to support the needs of our community."

One of the ways the team wanted to support the community was to create a little free pantry, an idea that has its roots in America. The aim is for people to leave items in a little pantry, which is accessible to all and provides items for those who need them most. It requires no voucher or payment but you can leave something if you wish: "LEP (Little Free Pantry) at North Avenue is for neighbours helping neighbours." It's as simple as that (but effective)!

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To read Maria's full story, see pictures and see how the pantry was received by the community on its launch day click here.

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Read more: Story of the Little Free Pantry