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CRCW News and Events

New reality cover RGB web cropThe 'New reality, same Mission' booklet was created by the URC’s Church Related Community Work, Mission and Discipleship teams, along with Church Action on Poverty, to enable individuals and local churches to explore questions of community presence and engagement and social justice in the new reality which we all face. It has been created to compliment the recently compiled Ready for the new normal booklet, produced by the moderators.

Read more about this new resource, download a PDF/text only file and find out how you can get involved with online discussion groups here.

If you have a story, example or information to share, please email us.

Webinar photo web cropped

As well as planned online conversations, Church Action on Poverty have supplied short films which can be viewed on the URC YouTube page.

If you would like to keep up to date via socail media, why not like our Facebook page, follow the CRCW team on Twitter or check out our images on Instagram. to accompany the booklet.

 Photo credit: Wes Hicks on Unsplash

Read more: New church and community resource out now!

This month we hear from CRCW; Kirsty Mabbott who is based at Ansty Road & St Columba’s URCs in Coventry. This is an LGBT Photo Webimportant month because June is a time where LGBT Pride is celebrated around the world. Mainly, this year, gatherings will not be an option due to the pandemic, but many will continue to celebrate from home and on-line.

"In Singapore, the Pink Dot celebrations are going on-line, and people are being encouraged to hang pink lights in their windows on June 27th to show solidarity with those who feel alone, are struggling with not being accepted by their families and friends or are scared to ‘come out of the closet’."

Kirsty encourages us to remember the struggles many in the LGBTIQA+ have faced in the past and: "the hard-fought battles for equality and justice." Kirsty says that Pride month this year in the UK has also been affected by the appropriation of its pride flag: "Our flag represents to us the hard fight for human rights that others take for granted and some just want to wipe that away."

pinkdot2020 2 webRead Kirsty's full reflection here:

It’s June, which means its LGBT Pride Month all around the world. Now this year, due to Covid19, we will not see the gatherings around the world to celebrate Pride, but in some places, there have been calls to continue to mark the month from home. It won’t be the same as coming together as a community, but hopefully will enable people to know they are valued and seen.

In Singapore, the Pink Dot celebrations are going online, and people are being encouraged to hang pink lights in their windows on June 27th to show solidarity with those who feel alone, are struggling with not being accepted by their families and friends or are scared to ‘come out of the closet’. All the Pride festivals in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Eire have been cancelled or postponed except for Dublin Pride, which like Singapore, has moved online. Now some might wonder why this matters, especially amidst a global pandemic? In some ways, they are right, but, Pride matters. Pride matters because for many people, it is their first way of accessing the wider LGBTIQA+ community, it is sometimes the way some folk see the embodiment of what they are feeling inside but didn’t know how to express it.

It is also a time of remembering. We remember the hard-fought battles for equality and justice. We remember that it all started at a little bar called the Stonewall Inn in New York when a beautiful Drag Queen called Marsha P Johnson stood up against the police brutality that was taking place and led the Queers to fight back sparking the Stonewall Riots. We remember those who have been killed because they are LGBTIQA+ and mourn for the loss of their beautiful and creative sparks. We also remember all those who we lost to HIV/AIDS and those that stood in solidarity with us when we were seen as perverts, predators and carriers of death. But Pride is also a time we remember the fight is not yet over. Just this week it has been reported in the UK press that the ban on conversion therapy that the government promised in 2018 has not happened because the new equalities minister has announced that conversion therapy is a complex issue…this is hogwash, and that is me being polite. Conversion therapy is harmful and dangerous, if you are unsure of what it is, it claims to “cure” gay people of their gay-ness, as if it is an illness. It has been proved that this “therapy” does not work and has caused many deaths by both suicide and murder (usually labelled as honour killings). All the major UK health organisations have condemned conversion therapies because of how dangerous they are.

Pride month this year in the UK is also somewhat affected by the appropriation of its pride flag by unscrupulous online retailers and others. The rainbows that have been adopted the world over during this time have for millennia been a symbol of hope and peace, but here in the UK the rainbow flags being sold, and the NHS rainbow badges being worn by members of the government are not true rainbows…they are Pride rainbows. Some might ask what is the difference? It’s six colours instead of seven, but the NHS rainbow badges were produced by the NHS for staff to wear in solidarity with LGBTIQA+ colleagues and patients and also to mark them as “safe” people to be approached if you were Queer and needed help. The appropriation of a symbol that has been our community’s rally point, armour and safe space marks for some a thoughtless (or maybe well thought out) erasure of our identity. Many who would not support Pride or display a Pride flag in June are now hanging them outside their homes to “support the NHS” without an iota of thought about the mixed message it is sending, and this is doubly worrying when we have seen in the last three months, this pandemic used as an excuse to push through Anti-LGBT+ laws in countries around the world and we then see that our symbols and identity have been taken and relabelled to prop up bad government decisions and a greedy retail market. Our flag represents to us the hard fight for human rights that others take for granted and some just want to wipe that away.

So, this month of June, I will be waving my Pride Flag at home while eating rainbow cake in solidarity with my LGBTIQA+ siblings around the world. I will raise a glass to those who fought the equality battles to get us to here, I will light a candle to remember all those we have lost, and I will ensure that my red ribbon is clearly seen on my bag. I will continue to be out, loud and proud and hopefully build on ideas to create a stronger bridge between our church and my beloved rainbow community so that next year at Pride we can be a strong and loving presence & eat cake together.

Be Blessed

Kirsty <>

Photo by Tanushree Rao on Unsplash

Read more: Time to Remember

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 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...

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