Interfaith officer Tim Ardouin on the need for greater dialogue
How the diocese is making a difference for Christian Aid
Lottery grant helping to give historic church new lease of life
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Let Alleluia be your daily song as you rejoice in the life the Risen Christ reveals T ‘ he Christian Easter is all about life and love triumphing over death and division. In this first edition of our proposed new Diocesan News ‘Cymuned – Community’ we are enabled to see how this is working itself out in different ways and in different places: Faith in Families, our Diocesan Board of Social Responsibility engaging in some of the poorest communities of our area, sees new life and hope being breathed into the daily existence of families whose sense of hope and, in some cases, self-worth was all but gone. Opportunities have been provided, and lives have been turned around. Work undertaken in the field of inter-faith relationships demonstrates that different faiths, properly understood, are not predicated upon ruthless doctrines which seek to alienate and crush those who experience God in ways that are different from ours. Rather many have much in common, and much to say about human dignity, justice
Many faiths have much in common, and much to say about human dignity, justice and the pursuit of peace and freedom
and the pursuit of peace and freedom. In the work of refugee sanctuaries and Christian Aid, we see the lives of people, young and old, who live often under the dark shadow of injustice, persecution and profound need, being shown that, instead of death and division there can be life, better life and more lovefilled life. Christians were said by St Augustine to be ‘An Easter People’ whose song is ‘Alleluia!’. I hope that Alleluia will be your daily song as you rejoice in the life and love which the Risen Christ reveals and, more importantly, as you commit to bringing that life and love to others around in whatever ways and by whatever means you can.
LENT APPEAL - BE LIGHT
AND LOVE TO OTHERS Bishop John has launched his 2017 Lent Appeal, calling on members of the diocesan family to demonstrate the generosity and compassion which Jesus asks of us. Here are this year's four chosen charities
Open Door UK
Faith in Families
The Little Princess Trust
Suggested by Canon Keith Evans
Suggested by Rev Jeremy Bevan
Committed to by the Bishop
Suggested by Rev Ian Drew-Jones
ifeboat crews at Mumbles have been saving lives at sea for more than 180 years and have been presented with 33 awards for gallantry. The station has also witnessed tragedy with 18 lifeboat volunteers losing their lives while endeavouring to save others. Adam Evans, son of Canon Keith and Mary, is one of the volunteers who knows, at first hand, just how demanding the task can be. In supporting this year’s Lent Appeal, we have a direct link with the work being done. The frontline service of lifeboat crews, lifeguards and flood rescue teams remains at the heart of this well-known charity. However, it’s not widely understood that the RNLI receives no government funding. It cost around £460,000 a day in 2015 to run the RNLI.
pen Doors is an international ministry serving persecuted Christians and churches worldwide. It supplies Bibles, leadership training, literacy programmes, livelihood support and advocacy services. It also seeks to mobilise the church in the UK and Ireland to serve fellow Christians living under religious persecution and to make them more aware of the dangers others face. Open Doors was founded in 1955 by Andrew van der Bijl, a Dutchman more widely known as Brother Andrew, when he decided to smuggle Bibles to Christians in the then-Communist Poland. He continued this work in many of the Soviet-controlled countries and in 1957 was given a VW Beetle which he used to make deliveries within the Communist bloc.
aith in Families, part of the Diocesan Board for Social Responsibility, needs no introduction. It is one of the most impressive ways in which the Diocese has developed its outreach into our most disadvantaged communities, making a real difference to people’s lives through its child and family support services, outreach services and, more recently at St John’s in Brecon, older people and health and wellbeing services. Because of a major shift in policy by the Welsh Government, the very existence of some of its work, as well as the livelihoods of staff members, are under real threat. Your support will be a real boost to the morale of staff and trustees who are fighting to preserve its community and family work. • We won't give up - pages 4&5
he Little Princess Trust was launched in 2006 by the parents of Hannah Tarplee, along with help from friends and from Hannah’s school, Hereford Cathedral Junior School. Hannah was diagnosed with having a Wilms’ tumour and, after a brave battle, died in 2005. Finding high-quality wigs for children was difficult and, only after a long search, was a company found which made a wig for Hannah. After Hannah died, so many kind people offered help, financial and practical. Hannah’s parents, Wendy and Simon decided to launch a charity dedicated to providing specialist real hair children’s wigs. The charity has now helped thousands of boys and girls and has recently provided financial assistance for research into the causes of childhood cancers.
Visit swanseaandbrecon.churchinwales.org.uk to find out more about this year's charities
Transforming lives from Swansea to Brecon Penplas Family Centre was established in 2003 and has worked with thousands of community members, making a difference in their lives. Penplas prides itself on working with the whole community, from birth through to old age, and with partner agencies to inspire, encourage and support. PFC is currently in the exciting stage of watching St Teilo's Church being redeveloped into Teilo's Community Cwtch, its new home where staff can reach out and support many more people, work with different partners and be the community hub that is needed for the area. St John's in Brecon's work has been developing over the past year and is flourishing. The luncheon club continues to grow in popularity, the gardening club is taking root and a range of cookery classes and healthy eating initiatives are being served up. The strong partnership links with Brecon Foodbank and Dementia Matters Powys are going from strength to strength and a new playgroup is being set up this spring. Its Food Coop offers the opportunity for community members to access quality fresh produce at affordable prices. The centre is always bustling with activity and there are plans to develop a new, more spacious training/meeting room facility, helping to build stronger links with other partner agencies. With a more joined up and intergenerational approach to community work, it is widening its reach to support families and individuals in need and suffering from isolation.
Meet the small team delivering big things W
ith its new £1m state-of-the-art centre at St Teilo’s about to open, it should be a time of celebration for Faith in
Families. The charity, described by Bishop John in his Lent Appeal as one of the most impressive ways in which the diocese has developed its outreach into our disadvantaged communities, has won widespread praise for its work and has a dedicated and highly-skilled staff. But its future, and that of its three Swansea centres, was thrown into doubt late last year when the Welsh Government announced it was scrapping its anti-poverty programme. Faith in Families relies on the Communities First initiative for 79% of the funding for its Bonymaen, Penplas and Clase centres, and the decision also leaves the St Teilo’s centre - which includes a youth club and community café - in jeopardy. It also means more uncertainty for staff, who had to endure an uncertain Christmas, until a last-minute reprieve extended the programme until June. Now the charity is calling for help from parishes to help secure its future. The charity’s CEO, Cherrie Bija, said: “Our passionate, dedicated staff teams in each of our projects are our greatest asset, however we would be delighted if parish members could join these teams.
"We need your help in bringing hope to families in need. We would welcome more people from parishes to come along to provide friendship to staff, to supporting our groups, teaching young parents old skills. Simple tasks such as making the teas and coffees, reading time, song time and messy play. Or if you have skills in financing, fundraising, embroidery or counselling, baking, healthy living or budgeting. "Our gardens need maintaining and treasuring, our centres need a lick of paint, our work needs to be supported and the transformational changes that happen in our communities need to be celebrated. We are a small team delivering big things in our parishes and we could achieve so much more with your support. “We appreciate everyone’s lives are busy, if you haven’t the time, then please do fill up a collection box or donate directly to Faith in Families, we spend every penny wisely and make every pound count in the poorer communities within our diocese, providing care, love, compassion and support to children and families in our parishes.”
Fancy trying a travelling crib? The Parish of Sketty held a travelling crib project at Christmas, and those who brought the project to life are now offering to help you make your own. Mary, Joseph and their donkey were ‘accommodated’ in the homes of young families for a night during Advent. Each family then delivered the holy family to the next hosts, and together they shared in a short prayer time by candlelight. A knitted sheep was left at each home as a reminder of their special guests and the families were invited to return the sheep to the holy family at the crib service on Christmas eve. If you are interested in doing this in your church, contact Sian Parkhouse at email@example.com or Viv Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org for details and advice.
Light churches purple for charity A charity has launched an appeal to light churches purple for Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. The Fibro Flare Awareness Group creates awareness of fibromyalgia, a long-term chronic condition that causes pain all over the body, in the UK. Most medical conditions have their own awareness days, ribbons and colours. Fibromyalgia’s is purple. The charity is reaching out to public buildings and churches to help for one evening – May 12 – to light up the external walls to create more awareness of the condition. If you can help, email Sian Phillips at email@example.com, or Beth Urmston at fibroflaremag1@ outlook.com
Could you offer prayer support to Brecon’s Street Pastors? Brecon Street Pastors have been making an impact in the town since they began their mission last year, and are now asking for prayer support for their work. During the past few months,and especially during the festive period, the street pastors have been able to provide practical and spiritual help and encouragement to a number of vulnerable people and others on the streets of Brecon. Rev David Jenkins, Brecon Street Pastors prayer co-ordinator, said: “We really need support and are asking for people to uphold us in prayer. Every Saturday night please pray that those who go out into the streets of Brecon might be protected from harm and be able to reach out to others in the name of Jesus. “Some people are willing to support us by praying at home, others by gathering together to pray at Watergate Baptist Church between 10pm and midnight on Saturday nights. “We also ask if you could remember to pray for us your private prayers at other times and in your church prayer groups and services.” If you would like to be part of the official prayer team, contact David on 01874 622827, or email firstname.lastname@example.org There is also a need for more street pastors, and further information about joining is available from co-ordinators Nikki Wheeler and Hugh Pryce on 0800 678 5142/07754 364386, or email brecon@streetpastors. org.uk “If you want to know more about the work of street pastors we can arrange for someone to give a presentation at your church or group,” David said.
Links with church get stronger and stronger
Appointments Davies-Hannen: Rev Robert Davies-Hannen, Incumbent of the Benefice of Llangyfelach with St Teilo on the Clase, now Incumbent of the Parish of Sketty and Ministry Area Leader of Clyne Trinity.
Head of Christchurch CinW Primary, Helen-Marie Davies, gives her report on the highlights of a busy school year
e started the new school year in September with the wonderful Rev Helen Rees and Rev Ian Folkes, pictured right, and were very much looking forward to the exciting times ahead. As the suntans started to fade we were busy preparing for our Harvest service in Christchurch Church on October 10. The children presented beautiful baskets of fruit and vegetables along with tinned food. The children sang songs and thanked God for the wonderful gifts. Later that day the children delivered the baskets to local residents and members of the church. The children enjoyed delivering their gifts and they made many elderly people very happy indeed. Tinned food was donated to the Cyrenians and the local food bank. Christmas was soon upon us and the children excitedly practised their singing and dancing for the traditional Christchurch School Nativity. As always the children thoroughly enjoyed performing and it was lovely to see the church packed with parents, relatives and members of the church as we celebrated the true meaning of Christmas. Rev Ian had a star role in our
Christingle service on February 7 as he explained each part of the Christingle orange, finishing with the candle to remind us that Jesus is the light of the world. The church was once again filled with parents and it was great to have tea and coffee served by members of the church as people arrived; providing a very warm welcome to Christchurch Church for everyone. March 1 brought a sea of red to Christchurch Church as the children and staff poured in wearing their traditional Welsh costumes and rugby shirts. Pupils entertained a full church with their Welsh singing, dancing, instrumentals and of course the Chairing of the Bard. A great time was had by all as we
sang the national anthem with pride and remembered our patron saint David. Back at school, the children have thoroughly enjoyed the weekly Collective Worships from Rev Helen and Rev Ian. The Tuesday morning celebrations support our whole school values and the children look forward to hearing the wonderful stories as they sit hoping it is their turn to be asked to help out. Another addition to our church/ school family is the introduction of the monthly ‘Messy Church’ sessions. Parents and pupils alike thoroughly enjoy coming along and joining in with the art and craft, games, singing and many other fun activities. I think Rev Helen and Rev Ian have just as much fun in these sessions. The links between Christchurch School and the Benefice of Central Swansea have grown from strength to strength this year. We are very grateful to Rev Helen, Rev Ian, members of the church and governors for the continued support. The children of Christchurch School are extremely lucky to have so many people working hard to ensure their Christian education is a memorable and meaningful one. Diolch yn fawr!
Rev Steve back on marathon trail for charity Rev Steve Bunting is back in training for his second London Marathon, again in aid of the Lullaby Trust. The priest in charge of Swansea St Thomas and Kilvey first tackled the gruelling course last year, together with wife Rachel, after the death of an eight-month-old baby who had been part of the church's mother and toddler group. "I was preparing the parents for marriage and suddenly we were in the middle of this absolute
tragedy," Rev Steve said. "I realised that I could help with spiritual aspects but there were so many practical aspects, particularly around the death of a child, that I didn’t know about, so I contacted the Lullaby Trust." Inspired by the charity's work the couple took on the marathon challenge, raising £12,500. Rev Steve had planned on hanging up his trainers but was prompted to take on the challenge
this year after being contacted by the charity, he is now hoping to take that total up to £20,000. There are two fundraising nights coming up - a charity night in the Church Hall starring Shelly Marie from The Voice and special guests, and a bingo night at the Dockers Club in St Thomas - and tickets are available from Rev Steve or the St Thomas parish office. You can also make a donation at www.virginmoneygiving.com/StevenBunting.
Beresford-Webb: Rev Petra Beresford-Webb, Assistant Curate in the Benefices of Irfon Valley, Blaenau Irfon and Upper Wye and Bishop’s Officer for Ministry to Children, Young People and Families, now Priest in Charge of the Benefices of Irfon Valley, Blaenau Irfon and Upper Wye remaining Bishop’s Officer for Ministry to Children, Young People and Families.
Photographs by Angela Hewitt
‘Colourful, important ceremony in the life of Brecon’s cathedral’ B ishop John led the collation and installation of canons at Brecon Cathedral, describing it as a “colourful, important ceremony”. Those installed were: s Rev Canon Rowlands Edwards as Chancellor s Rev Canon Keith Evans as Treasurer s Rev Canon Dewi Roberts as Precentor s Rev Canon Ian Rees to the Stall of Builth s Rev Melia Cope to the Stall of Melineth s Rev Phil Gwynn as Honorary Canon Bishop John said: “This place, this cathedral, a place which has stood for over 900 years, is a place where there has been found teaching, a place where there has been found
sacrament, scripture, prayer, and, I guess from time to time there has been too a fair share of condemnation and judgement of those who don’t come. “Let’s focus on what the place is here for. To be a place, yes, of liturgy, prayer and sacrament, but ultimately a place where God can be touched, a place where Christ can be found. A place from where
people of God, disciples of Christ go out to find the lost and bring them in, bring them in and hopefully help them to find something, to turn them into pilgrims. “All those surrounding me who will now be moving on to different offices in this place are not being given rosettes. They are here because they promise to participate in the outreach and witness of this place. “They have roles to play elsewhere in their parishes but they are saying what they are trying to do there they will also try to do here, supporting the Dean as he seeks to develop the life, witness, welcome and learning of this place.” • Defence secretary's Havard Chapel visit - page 14
Bevan: Rev Christopher Jeremy Bevan, Assistant Curate in the Benefice of Llanelli, now Priest in Charge of the Benefice of Llanelli. Bowler: Rev Christopher Peter Bowler, Assistant Curate in the Benefice of the Vale of Gwyrnne and Bishop’s Officer for Ministry to Children, Young People and Families, now Priest in Charge of the Benefice of the Vale of Gwyrnne remaining Bishop’s Officer for Ministry to Children, Young People and Families. Bunting: Rev Steven Leo Bunting, Curate with Pastoral Oversight of the Benefice of Swansea St Thomas and Kilvey and Bishop’s Officer for Ministry to Children, Young People and Families, now Priest in Charge of Swansea St Thomas and Kilvey. Perrin: Rev Andrew Perrin, Assistant Curate in the Benefices of the Lower Ithon Valley and Upper Ithon Valley, now Priest in Charge of the Benefices of the Lower Ithon Valley and Upper Ithon Valley. Drew-Jones: Rev Ian Drew-Jones, Curate with Pastoral Oversight of the Benefice of Loughor and Bishop’s Officer for Ministry to Children, Young People and Families, now Priest in Charge of the Benefice of Loughor remaining Bishop’s Officer for Ministry to Children, Young People and Families.
blanket of consumerism, capitalistic salesmanship, has damaged people and, when people are damaged, they begin to wake up and look for more meaning in life." For the future in his new role, Tim is planning on greater engagement. "I’m beginning to engage with people who are more mainstream. The Anglican church is seen as the mainstream church in the UK and other parts of the world, and I'll be meeting people who could be seen as mainstream Muslims, Buddhists etc." The next interview for his interfaith series on the website will be with a local imam. "If we can pray together and be seen in public together it's got to have a positive effect. The caricature promoted of Islam since 9/11 has been incredibly negative and misplaced," Tim said. "The false perception fostered by various political figures and media, the language of Islamist fundamentalism or so-called Islamic State, has nothing to do with Islam as a faith."
Visit swanseaandbrecon.churchinwales.org.uk/interfaith to listen to Father Tim's series of interviews
a little more
conversation Father Tim Ardouin is the Bishop's Officer for Interfaith. Here, he explains more about his role, his faith and the importance of dialogue
e is famed for his love of the didgeridoo and is a well-known sight in his native Gower, but now Father Tim Ardouin is tackling a different challenge. The priest in chrge of St Rhydian & St Illtyd’s, St Gwynour’s and Wernffrwd's St David’s churches was recently appointed as Bishop's Officer for Interfaith, a role he is relishing. But what is an officer for interfaith? "I would say it’s an officer who has a heart for the faith journeys of people whatever their backgrounds are," Tim said. "If we look at the world, a lot of the conflict in the world is carried out in the name of religion and very rarely does it have a genuine spiritual base, and if it ever did, I don’t think fighting would be the result. "So many people put religion into boxes, put people’s faith into boxes, and I’ve found in my experience of life and being with people who genuinely engage with the spiritual impulse within themselves and who pray, who contemplate, who notice God in nature, very rarely are these people looking to impose their religious philosophy on others. "The role of the interfaith officer is a role of listening with empathy, compassion to people who have a different way of looking at god, the universe and life but who, underneath the thinking, experience God in the same way I do because there is one reality and we all share it." Interfaith dialogue, he says, is an opportunity for people who genuinely engage with their faith to be able to look at the faiths of others, and learn from them. "I feel that if this is done, and I’m not talking about any kind of surface show or for any political reason, I’m talking about sharing faith journeys with people who have different preconceptions, and people do that and learn to listen deeply to each other, then great light comes into the world, the kingdom of heaven is evident and peace can be promoted." The need for interfaith dialogue is one he has personal experience of, and has been shaped by his background.
"I can’t remember a time when I haven’t met people of other faiths, probably in childhood is the only time," he said. "My mother’s family have been Church in Wales priests for generations and there are people in my family who are Irish Roman Catholics, and I remember conflict between representatives of the Catholic Church and the Church in Wales which amazed me as a child. I could never understand why they would be so passionate and negative about each other. "I went travelling at a young age and I travelled for three years living on the road and I met people of different faiths and never had a problem sharing my faith with them. I don’t think I had any preconceptions before taking this role, other than it’s possible to talk to each other." And his own faith? "For as long as I remember I’ve felt the presence of God. I remember my grandfather teaching me to pray at a very young age and I took it for granted this feeling I had was God. There have been times – my late teenage years, early 20s - when the church meant nothing to me as an institution but I found by my mid-20s, by submitting myself to the worship in church, it really didn’t matter what style of worship that was, I felt the presence of God. I guess I always had faith but I haven’t always been able to intellectualise that, put it into words that say those precepts actually describe the faith that I sense." Father Tim has recorded a series of interviews for the diocesan website, including conversations with a druid, a Buddhist, and Norma Glass, the Welsh representative on the UK Board of Deputies of British Jews. "The recordings on the website give some insight into the conversations I’ve been having. At the moment those conversations are not at the deepest levels they are outlining what I’m trying to do. What I’m trying to do is present a forum a space for people to en-
gage in and those recordings are a way for people to be able to listen to certain elements of people’s faith on a simple level so they can then begin to be informed about other faiths and be able to think about contributing to conversation. "I haven’t found anything I didn’t expect. I’ve been speaking, particularly, so far to the more contemplative elements of different religions and what I’m finding is a great openness among contemplatives. "This seems to be a time when the more mystical elements of religious and contemplative practitioners of their faiths are mixing more, coming out of monasteries and more specialist areas to speak of contemplation to the people and to teach people contemplative prayer, engagement with God is for everyone, not something that is just for special people. "This isn’t surprising but it’s very encouraging and it’s very positive." This happening, he says, both because of the opportunities offered by social media and society's search for meaning. "A Native American can now speak to people through the internet, a Tibetan monk can speak directly to people through the internet, it’s more accessible. Many platforms for spiritual masters to be able to speak instead of hunting around for a book that might be out of print people can actually see people who practise faith. "Another reason is the negative side of globalisation and the powerful political aspects of life in 21st century is a rise in conservatism, nationalism perhaps. The bland
Refugees, we won’t turn our backs now Every single action counts for appeal week, says Christian Aid's Mari McNeill
ixty years ago, something special happened. In May 1957 churches throughout Britain and Ireland decided to put aside one week in the year to outreach into their communities, inviting their neighbours to be part of the churches’ ongoing work of helping refugees in the aftermath of the Second World War: Christian Aid Week. Twenty places in Wales organised collections for that first Christian Aid Week in 1957 – Aberdare, Aberystwyth, Ammanford, Bangor, Bedwas, Blaendulais, Cardiff, Carmarthen, Colwyn Bay, Dowlais and Merthyr Tydfil, Ffestiniog, Llwyngwril, Llandudno, Newtown, Llangollen, Pontardawe, Swansea, Tonyrefail, Welshpool and Ystalyfera. Church members used whatever they had to make collecting tins (think, Oxo and Ovaltine!) and boldly took to the streets. They shared about the needs of refugees in Europe, the work the
churches were doing, and invited their friends and neighbours to help. Many of us have stories to share about why we get involved in Christian Aid Week, how we’re inspired by Jesus’ love for us, and how the Week is an act of witness in our communities. Orphaned at eight, Theodor Davidovic was a teenager during the Second World War and fought in the resistance movement in Serbia against Germany. In the political chaos after the war’s end, he fled his country. He lived in refugee camps in Europe for two and a half years: “It was the Christians who sent the parcels. "It was the big organisations that were feeding us, and I never forgot it. That is why I volunteer for Christian Aid. The people then who were contributing through Christian Aid Week helped me to survive. I feel I owe my life to the cause”. Theodor is 91, and a dedi-
Nejebar, from Afghanistan, fled her homeland after the Taliban said they would kill anyone
who worked for the government, like her husband Noor
cated Christian Aid Week volunteer in Scotland. Fittingly Christian Aid Week 2017 focuses on our work with refugees in Europe today. While the majority of today’s refugees seek sanctuary in poor countries, in 2015 some one million people crossed into Europe. Since the borders closed during 2015, thousands of people are stranded in refugee camps in Greece, Serbia and Macedonia,
They are in urgent need of our help. One such refugee is Nejebar and her family. Nejebar, from Afghanistan, fled her homeland after the Taliban announced they would kill anyone who worked for the government, like her husband Noor. They travelled on foot for two months, before a treacherous journey across the Mediterranean in a small rubber dinghy eventually
countries that have been entry points to the rest of Europe. European countries are deadlocked over who should take responsibility and Greek authorities have yet to receive the bulk of resources promised to enable them to respond adequately. There are currently an estimated 57,000 refugees stranded in Greece. They are waiting for the political situation to change and living in fear of being sent back home.
The contribution of our diocese bucket collections, held collections
brought them to Greece with their children. The young family have left their home, family and friends behind, and have been living in a refugee camp for over six months. With your help, Christian Aid and its global partners continue to provide support for refugees, like Nejebar and Noor, with essentials including, food, shelter and job skills training, as well as advocating for policies to protect and help
them on the ground. Christian Aid’s work in Greece includes setting up community kitchens – providing stoves and cash to allow refugees to buy and cook their own food is an important shred of autonomy. We are also providing legal protection services to unaccompanied children and families and housing support to some of the most vulnerable refugees awaiting relocation. •
counts. Last year, hundreds went door to door, held in churches and put on an array of events...
£5 could provide two nutritious meals for a refugee in Europe • £50 could buy a stove for refugees to cook their own food and enjoy tastes of home • £132 is enough to set up a shower unit to give a refugee a safe and clean place to wash • £285 could buy fridges for a community kitchen in a refugee camp The contribution of our diocese counts. Last year hundreds went door to door, held bucket collections, held collections in church and put on an array of events. Many churches tried new initiatives to strengthen their outreach, including Big Brekkie’s in Waunarlwydd and Ystalyfera. Brecon held their annual sponsored walk along the canal. And St Mary’s Primary School in Brynmawr had an action-packed week of learning and marked the end of the Week at their local church along with parents and the local community to celebrate all the work that Christian Aid is doing. Every single action counts to raise vital funds to bless many lives. From 1957, when a generation of Christians decided they would not stand by while people suffered in refugee camps, to today – we won’t turn our backs now. What will you be doing this Christian Aid Week? To get involved in Christian Aid Week (14-20 May), please visit www.caweek.org or contact the Cardiff office: cardiff@christian-aid. org 029 2084 4646. • Church members making refugees welcome in Wales pages 12&13
Helpers 'humbled by wonderful people' When the Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group (SBASSG) was looking for a new home, it found a warm welcome at St James’ Church in Swansea. The charity, which runs two drop-in sessions a week, chose the Uplands church’s hall for its Friday evening events, and many members of the congregation have been helping out. Volunteer Margaret Lamb, a member of the PCC, said: “I think it’s totally amazing what they’re doing and the asylum seekers are amazing people. They’ve been through a lot but there’s still hope in their hearts. “As a church we should be supporting them however we can. They’ve got nothing and hopefully we’re doing something to make their lives better. It makes me feel so humble that they have so little and yet there is still that hope in their hearts.” And church member Ann Cooke, who helped to organise the move to St James', said: “On Friday evenings we have table tennis, snooker, table football, children’s games, English classes and socialising and we help to prepare a meal for up to 80 people. “Anyone who wants to come along and help can come to the centre on Friday evenings it’s open to everybody to come along and help “It’s been busy but it’s been a wonderful experience for us, and something completely different for the church.” SBASSG was formed by local people, including refugees, in 1999 when the government announced asylum seekers would be "dispersed" to Swansea. Its drop-ins began in 2001. You can find out more at sbassg.wordpress.com
Helping to bring and give a voice
hope to many to the voiceless
child’s lifeless body washed up on a beach. Columns of desperate people trudging across Europe. These were the images that startled a nation. Hearts were stirred. “How can this be? What can we do?” were the questions on many minds and lips. Locally, a few like-minded people came together, approached the Dean of Brecon Cathedral for support and the embryonic Hay, Brecon, Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees was born. Since that first meeting, 18 months ago, group membership has grown to over 350, with many more supporters following our activities on the website and Facebook. We are part of a nationwide Sanctuary Movement with many towns and cities – including Swansea – gaining Sanctuary status. In effect, offering a hand of friendship and support to those who have had to flee their homes, their livelihoods and their country because their lives are at risk. Over the past 18 months, among other things, the group has collected and sorted numerous bags of bedding, clothes, and sleeping bags and purchased tents and other essential equipment. These have been sent to refugees living in Swansea, Cardiff and Newport as well as to refugee camps in Europe, Syria and Jordan. We work closely with local support groups such as ‘Unity in Diversity’, which runs a drop-in centre for refugees and asylum seekers in Swansea, the Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group and the Swansea Humanitarian Aid Response Project. The group has tried to be a ‘voice for the voiceless’, combatting many of the myths and misunderstandings surrounding this subject. Our Christmas tree in the Cathedral
Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees' chair Rev Margaret Blake on how the group is changing lives festival, and the subsequent vigil, enabled us to highlight the needs of refugees. It was particularly moving, at the end of the three-day period, to see how many people had accepted our invitation ‘to be an angel’ and send a message of hope and good will to our refugees living in Swansea. Our tree was covered in paper angels carrying these messages,
which we later took down to be distributed alongside many Christmas presents. We have also raised our concerns with representatives of government, both local and national, on a number of issues relating to refugees; most recently with regard to the plight of unaccompanied child refugees. But most enjoyable of all are our ‘Respite Days’ which are held almost
monthly. We host groups of 60 – 70 refugees, offering them a chance for relaxation and friendships in our beautiful countryside, away from the pressures of their stressful everyday lives. We share meals, simple activities, laughter and much chatter. I am always amazed by the generosity and goodwill shown by so many people from outside the
group who bake countless cakes, donate dried foods, help with serving and washing up and generally offer a local welcome. Their support is very much appreciated. When our guests leave, they are each given ‘take home’ bags of food and toiletries which helps them to eke out their meagre resources. The comments that come back to us after each ‘Day’ show just what a
difference those few hours make to them; sometimes preventing people from tipping over into full scale depression. The concept of ‘Sanctuary’ has a long and noble history. ‘Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees’ continues that tradition: bringing hope to many. • You can find out more about HBTSR at hbtsr.org.uk
'We hope it was a day they will remember' Church members have been helping to make HBTSR’s welcome day visits to mid Wales ones to remember. Fifteen refugee families – 15 adults and 20 children who are living in Swansea - were welcomed to Brecon’s Cradoc school by Aberyscir church members. More than 30 pupils also came to the school on a Sunday morning to help. Church members baked cakes and donated groceries for the day of welcome and Richard Field, Aberyscir churchwarden, said: “It was great to see Cradoc school really buzzing with all the refugee visitors. As soon as they arrived they were welcomed to a breakfast of an amazing variety of foods, which they clearly loved. “We hope that this was a day that they will remember.” And Rev Margaret organised a day at Penpont House for more than 70 refugees from Syria, Nigeria, Sudan, Oman, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Iran, Ghana and Sri Lanka. Donations of groceries, toiletries and clothing were provided by Sennybridge school, Rainbows, Brownies and Guides, Brecon Foodbank, residents of Llanfihangel Nant Bran, local supporters, Morrisons and Aldi. More than 100 bags were given to supplement the rations normally available on an asylum seeker’s grant and, after people had chosen from the clothing, more than 30 bags were given to Swansea Humanitarian Aid Response Project [SHARP] to send to refugee camps around Europe and the Middle East as well being made available to local people in need. Margaret said: “None of this would have been possible without the support, generosity and welcome of so many local people.”
Book a visit to Eastmoor library If you’re looking for craft ideas for Sunday school, music and songs to sing or a picture book to take to school for an ‘Open the Book’ event, Eastmoor Resource Centre has an extensive children’s library available. The centre, in Swansea’s St Barnabas Church, Uplands, has books on prayer, special services including Christmas and Easter, reference books, all-age worship and books for younger children, as well as drama, music and craft. The library is open Monday-Friday from 9am-12pm, subject to pre-arranged meetings. Contact Zoe on 01792 281566 or email email@example.com for more information.
Gorseinon gets a taste for community meals There are more community meals on the menu in Gorseinon after the first event attracted more than 100 people. AM Rebecca Evans was among the diners at St Catherine’s Church, and described the event as an “overwhelming success”. Organisers of the meal included Gorseinon residents, representatives from local supermarkets, as well as town and county
councillors and members of local churches. Curate of St Catherine’s, Rev Dr Adrian Morgan, said: “The event was truly inspiring. It brought a whole community together. People of every age, background and ability shared a meal together. People who might otherwise never have met left the meal as friends. That is something to celebrate. “None of this would have been
possible without the help and support of some amazing people from across our community who have given of their time and talents in order to turn a dream into a reality. So I want to say a big thank you to everybody.” Gower AM Rebecca Evans said: “Huge congratulations to everyone involved in making the community meal at St Catherine’s such an overwhelming success.”
Building for the future at Llanwrtyd's historic St David's The historic St David’s Old Parish Church in Llanwrtyd Wells is looking forward to a new leasse of life after being awarded a grant of £80,000
from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The present church has a recorded history spanning more than 1,000 years and the site was reputed to have been cho-
sen much earlier by St David himself for the promulgation of the Christian faith, founded after the synod at Llanddewibrefi in the year 519 AD. The total cost of the project is £152,000 and will be used for urgent work needed to protect the church including elim-
inating the damp, replacing of the wooden floor under the pews and improving access for parishioners. An area for the many tourists, walkers and cyclists will be provided for rest and refreshment at the west end of the church. To strengthen the link between St David’s and the wider community, display boards, a brochure and website are also being created.
St John's Centre opens its doors There’s a great chance to learn more about the range of projects going on at St John’s Family Centre in Brecon at its open day. The centre is continuing and developing its Well-Being Project and wants as many people as possible to come along. You can enjoy cooking, gardening, socialising, learning and more. For more information about the centre, and the open day which takes place on April 26, call 01874 611723 or email stjohnsbrecon. firstname.lastname@example.org
Alex rings in his 50th year in style Alex Edwards, who has been ringing bells for the past 50 years, has received his certificate of membership of the Hereford Diocesan Guild of Ringers. His certificate was presented to him at St Peter’s Church in Glasbury, where he rings the bells, by Rev David Thomas.
Sir Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, has visited Brecon Cathedral for a tour of the Havard Chapel. The chapel became a war memorial to the South Wales Borderers (the 24th Regiment of Foot) and the Monmouthshire Regiment in 1923. The chapel also houses the colours of 1st Battalion the 24th Regiment of Foot which served with distinction during the Zulu War of 1879. Mr Fallon, who was in Brecon for a visit to the 160th Infantry Brigade HQ, was given a tour of the chapel by retired colonel Rodney Ashwood, secretary of the chapel trust.
Curtain up on St James' 150th anniversary celebrations This year marks the 150th anniversary of St James’ Church in Swansea, and one city theatre has helped to give the event top billing with a charity event. The Dylan Thomas Theatre staged a charity night performance of the play Goodnight Mister Tom, with proceeds going to the Uplands church’s celebrations. Around 130 adults and children from St James’, St Mary’s and other local parishes were there, as well as friends and family.
Janet Thomas, churchwarden and events committee chairman of St James’ events committee, said: “What a wonderful evening it was. "The whole event was exactly as one would have wished: a touching story cleverly interpreted; a near capacity audience of our church family and friends, clearly enjoying themselves, generous refreshments which were obviously much appreciated; and a novel raffle idea.
“For me it was a joy to see so many PCC members, people from all the Sunday services and old friends and clergy. "Let’s pray that this happy and well-supported event will be repeated many times in the months ahead.” There will be a number of events this year to mark the milestone, including a service of thanksgiving which will be led by Bishop John and a celebration dinner at the Dylan Thomas Centre in July.
Welcome to the green, green Pontlliw home A
head of the planned demolition of St Anne’s Church in Pontlliw, the diocese is investing in the design of a new, eco-friendly vicarage for the Ministry Area of Llwchr, which will be built on the site of the former church at the edge of Pontlliw Park in Swansea. The new vicarage, designed to meet the latest standards for sustainable housing, boasts several ‘green’ features that make the property cheaper to run and help the diocese fulfil its commitment to becoming more environmentally friendly. The house has been designed by local architect and planner
Eco-friendly vicarage lays foundation for more sustainable future, writes Liz Wheat Adrian Phillips, who has incorporated underground storm water tanks made from recycled materials to reduce the risk of flooding in Swansea’s famously rainy climate. The vicarage will also be packed with mineral wool insulation made from volcanic rock, known to be one of the most effective and
sustainable insulating materials on the market. The diocese is also exploring the possibility of installing a greywater recycling system at the property, which can significantly reduce water consumption by using the waste water from sinks, showers and washing machines to flush toilets.
These features add up to a property with a very high energy efficiency rating and low environmental impact rating. The new Pontlliw Vicarage will therefore not only stand at the centre of the new Ministry Area of Llwchwr, but will also form an essential part of a much ‘greener’ Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, as it looks to a brighter, more sustainable future.
Have a project in mind? Then we're here to help The diocese is committed to investing in mission through its Mission Fund, created by the Diocesan Board of Finance. It exists to help parishes and deaneries engage in mission projects that reflect the diocesan vision of becoming: A family, rooted in Christ committed to transforming lives by: s Gathering as God’s people s Growing more like Jesus s Going out in the power of the Spirit. At the heart of this vision is the commitment to seeing lives transformed. This can be done by encouraging the transformation of existing congregations through discipleship; by developing worship and welcome; by increasing confidence in sharing faith; and by making better use of church buildings. The diocese is also committed to
The Diocesan Board of Finance has £100,000 available for grants to help parishes make their vision a reality helping churches to transform the wider community by service that meets local needs, is sustainable and that reflects the diocesan vision. It is hoped that projects will extend the local church’s engagement with people, groups or areas and introduce Christ in such a way that people may have the opportunity to consider following him. There are three levels of grant that can be applied for: s Small grants: £100 - £999. Initiatives with projected costs of between £100 and £999 may be funded up to 100% of the total cost. s Medium grants: £1,000 - £9,999 which may be funded up to twothirds of the total cost; however, the committee expects appli-
cations to be at least one third match-funded from other sources. s Large grants: over £10,000 which, In line with medium grants, require more information and a project plan. Projects which fall in this category may be funded up to half of the total cost with applications expected to be at least half match-funded from other sources. In addition to the Mission Fund, there are also many other ways we can help. Grants adviser Paul Baker said: "With a bit of time and effort grants can be found for many of the things we want to do with our church, maybe we want to repair it, maybe we want to extend the community use of the building. If what we want
to do is not run-of-the-mill regular activity, we can often find money by applying for a grant. "There are thousands of possible grant givers out there all able and willing to provide money for causes near to their hearts. "The diocesan office can help you select the ones that are most likely to turn up trumps. "What you need to do is to decide what you want to do and why you want to do it. Begin an application for a grant by explaining all this but say what difference it will make if you can do it and say why your church or activity is special. "Some grants will come with strings attached, others will just be to enable you to do what you want to do." • To find out more about grants that are available, contact the diocesan office on 01874 623 716 or email diocese.swanbrec@ churchinwales.org
Diocesan Quarterly Magazine Easter 2017