John Griffith is our Synod Christian Aid specialist and a member of Lymm URC.
John has been a member of URC since its beginnings in 1972, and of the Congregational Church before that. Since moving to Cheshire to take up a teaching post near Warrington in 1969, he has been a member of Lymm URC.
As an RE teacher, John was drawn to the good material that Christian Aid produced, and was proud to become a volunteer CAT (Christian Aid Teacher) upon retirement in 2001. This involved him in a range of local Christian Aid activities, notably working in Primary Schools. Visits to Sri Lanka, to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, and most recently to Ghana have fuelled John’s enthusiasm for Christian Aid’s work globally.
John has generated interest in Christian Aid through Synod meetings over the past 20 years, and acted as Secretary for Mersey Synod’s Church and Society sub-committee until it was incorporated into the Mission and Discipleship Committee. He also inherited thriving support for the Commitment for Life initiative which Revd Brian Holroyd had done so much to foster. This in turn chiefly serves four regions on Christian Aid’s active list: Bangladesh, Central America, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, Zimbabwe.
John says, “It has been a privilege to work with inspirational people, locally and globally, who have a vision of poverty eradicated and justice prevailing. Christian Aid has undergone significant changes recently, not least due to the Covid pandemic, but the challenge and the need are as strong as ever. The faithful support from the URC continues to be a huge encouragement.”
My church, Lymm URC, has been loyal in its support for Christian Aid over the years. Not just during Christian Aid Week in May, but through the seasons.
We are energised by Christian Aid’s vision of working to eradicate extreme poverty, as a key part of the gospel message, faithful to the witness of the prophets and the teaching of Jesus.
The 2021 Harvest Appeal focuses on women in Malawi struggling in the face of the Climate Crisis. Extreme weather has devastated homes, crops and livestock, but there is an inspiring story of women uniting, stronger together, like Janet Ben and the Makande Women’s Group.
Their juice-making production from the amazing BAOBAB tree is a life-changer, and now involves 875 women in 38 Cooperatives. With support from Christian Aid’s Partner Eagles Relief and Development they make a juice for local consumption from the highly nutritious kernel of the baobab nut, some 6,000 bottles a month.
We shall be celebrating this story as a follow-up to our Harvest this year. Although we do not have a giant Baobab tree to hand, we have some powder to sample, easily obtained on line, and good resources available to download from Christian Aid, including a video, worship guide, song, poster and fund-raising aids.
Rise to the Moment
You may be aware of Climate Sunday 2021, an encouragement to all churches across Great Britain and Ireland to hold a climate-focused service before COP26 (UN Climate Change Conference of Parties).
Hopefully this is leading to a commitment to greater action as we explore Eco-church where we are, and a message to politicians that we want a cleaner, greener, fairer future through the plans agreed in Glasgow in early November.
Climate Activist Eirlys Jessop, who worked previously with Christian Aid, has been reminding us of the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN), who are gradually approaching Glasgow on a journey of prayer and action in the run up to COP26.
Christian Aid is partnering YCCN in this as they ‘Rise to the Moment’. The climate crisis is a storm we all face, the argument goes, but we are not all in the same boat. Every day people living in poverty battle the worst of a crisis they did not create. This is deeply unjust. We must ensure that the voices of our global neighbours are heard.
We are invited to write a prayer onto paper and then fold it into an origami boat. At our church in Lymm we have begun the process, and we have made a larger boat to receive the prayers and speed them on their voyage. Eirlys has plans for collecting many of these in Liverpool on 8-9 October. They will then be relayed to central points, blessed, and handed to Christian Aid as a member of The Climate Coalition to transfer to Glagow.
You can contact Eirlys Jessop on email@example.com or telephone 07583 115156 for the latest on delivering your prayers.
There will be a final chance to create and gather prayers at our Synod gathering in St Helens on 16 October. You could use your representative to bring the last of them then.
‘The Prayer Boat Activity Pack’ can be found at https://www.christianaid.org.uk/resources/get-involved/climate-justice-every-moment-matters with instructions on how to make a paper boat, share it, display it, and use it to engage your MP.
Prayer points might explore these themes;
- the impact the climate crisis is currently having on vulnerable communities around the world
- the safe passage of the YCCN volunteers as they take part in the Relay.
- the willingness of decision-makers to listen to our calls for climate justice and make bold commitments to change at COP26.
As Christian Aid puts it, “It’s time to be heard”. “Together we stop this climate crisis”.