Community Co-Ordinator’s Blog

This page will contain highlights of my work as Community Co-Ordinator and comments on current situations

2015

18th February

Website updated with details of how you can partner CfR, membership forms, new Prayer Calendar, February Newslink and brochures for all events at Barnes Close up to September 2015.

16th February

We deplore the beheading of Christians in Libya by the IS rebels and also subsequent bombing by Egyptian forces

13th February

We pray that the proposed ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine may become a reality and lead to a permanent peace.

We pray for IS and Boko Haram to cease fighting and lay down their weapons.

8th February

Fighting in Eastern Ukraine continues whilst peace talks take place. We must pray for a permanent end to the fighting.

3rd February

The killing of a Jordanian hostage by ISIS and civillian deaths in Ukraine are alarming. We must work for a world where human lives are not simply pawns in the hands of others. Equally concerning is the UK Parliament voting in favour of so called ‘three person babies’ despite the opposition of the church.

30th January

Increased fighting in Eastern Ukraine and Russia’s continued denial of involvement despite independent evidence of Russian troops there are of great concern

27th January

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. Two-thirds of Jewish people living in Europe at the time of World War II were killed by Nazis. 11 million people were killed during the Holocaust (1.1 million children). 6 million of those victims were Jewish. Other groups targeted by the Nazis were Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, disabled people, and Gypsies.

We remember with sadness, we pray that it may never happen again, we commit ourselves to working for reconciliation and justice.

26th January

Just heard that Janos Antal, Ecumenical Officer of the Reformed Church in Romania Kings Pass District will be with us from 21st to 25th March 2015.

25th January

Had an excellent Youth House Party able assisted by our International Volunteers Laura & Blanche.

John was also here and did some work in the grounds and some ceiling paint. A great help and great to see him again.

24th January

Disappointing news that the rebels in Eastern Ukraine have rejected talks aimed to bring about a ceasefire

20th January

The terrorist attacks in France and the burning of churches in Niger are a grim reminder of the divisions in society and the ease with which people resort to violence. This needs to be challenged and the shared history of Judaism, Islam and Christianity promoted more widely

2014

23rd December

Showed the film Joyeux Noel last night. It is about the 1914 truces on the western front in World War One. Again very moving and thought provoking.

20th December

Returned from Romania yesterday where I had been sharing in the 25th Anniversary of the Revolution events organised by the Reformed Church of Romania. It was an excellent time and quite though provoking. Visited the church in Arad-Gai and the Lorantffy Szuzanna School in Oradea, projects we have supported. Identified future possibilities in Arad-Gai, Youth Camps and Ministerial Exchanges.

12th November

Showed the film Private Peaceful last night. It was powerful and moving. An excellent evening

10th August

The service to commemorate the outbreak of World War One went well as did the Youth Peace Camp & Kids for Peace

6th May

The production of The Accrington Pals went brilliantly and exceeded all expectations. 470 people came to see it and all were moved by it. Thanks to the Rubery Drama Group.

22nd April

Thanks to the Volunteering Experience Barnes Close is looking good. Flower beds have weeded and planted, paths cleared and the grounds tidied up. The workshop has been cleared out and the attic is next on the list

Easter was, as usual, a wonderful experience. What better way to remember the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ than with like minded Christians

8th March

Had a good time at the Church & Peace AC in Laufdorf. Always good to meet up with friends from across Europe working to the same agenda

15th January

The Christmas period was wonderful and Open Christmas was a great time as usual. I enjoyed a post Christmas break in France and Spain which was quite refreshing. I hope to welcome you to Barnes Close in 2014

2013

13th October

Jonas Kunnberg, a former volunteer at Barnes Close, has been appointed Head Chef at Tallinn University in his home country of Estonia. Congratulations!

24th September

It was good to confirm the appointment of two new Trustees at the AGM last Saturday but it was disappointing that so few people were present. We still need to move further and quicker in rejuvenating our committees and groups with younger people with fresh ideas to take CfR forward.

Tragic news from Kenya over the shopping mall attack. Please pray for our partners based in Nairobi. Also pray for Syria that a way forward maybe found.

30th August

After much bad news for world peace it was good to hear that the government was defeated last night and that the UK will not be participating in military intervention in Syria – at least for the moment

18th August

A small but very successful Kids for Peace was followed by the, as ever, excellent Upward Challenge week run by DFBI. This is an excellent association.

Following the suggestion of the Young Leaders on YPC & KFP we have pencilled in a Volunteer Experience at Barnes Close in April 2014 aimed at the 16+ age group

1st August

Just enjoyed an excellent Youth Peace Camp with more participants than in recent years and a great team of young leaders

18th June

Last night over thirty Trustees, Committee Members and their families joined with the guests on the members and friends week for a Barbecue. During the evening we presented Ethel Griggs, Joan Threadgold, Maureen Hughes and Jim Hughes with Honorary Life Membership of CfR. Ethel was in at the beginning of CfR at Barnes Close travelling up from London to help at events at around the house. When this period of voluntary help was over Ethel has continued to attend events and supported us in other ways. Joan became involved in the early days of CfR at Barnes Close and has helped in a voluntary capacity around the house and at events as well as serving on committees and as a Trustee.
For around twenty-five years Maureen & Jim have travelled from Liverpool several times a year to help around the house and on events. They are still a very valuable part of the team on Time Away, Easter at Barnes Close, Kids for Peace and Youth peace Camp.

11th June

Seems a long time since I updated this. We have been busy decorating Barnes Close and working in the grounds. I have attended a very enjoyable meeting called by Network for Peace to share information about how peace groups are responding to the Commemoration of World War I, 57 people were present.

2nd April

It was a great delight to celebrate my twelth Easter at Barnes Close. There has been no greater event in history than the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ nearly two thousand years ago. It changed the world forever and belief in Jesus Christ as Son of God our Risen Lord has changed billions of lives. As a church we must continue to celebrate Easter, proclaim the gospel and bring people to a real faith. It is great to be part of the largest organisation on earth, namely the church. As Christians we have a responsibility to counteract the heresy that denies the divinity of Jesus, the virgin birth and his bodily resurrection. We have the promise of eternity because of Easter and that is a cause for great rejoicing.

25th March

I spent last week in Germany attending a Church & Peace meeting. It continues to be a great joy to share with Christians from across Europe as we seeking to promote peace as the chosen lifestyle of all Christians.

14th March

I was pleased to hear that a new leader for the Roman Catholic Church had been elected yesterday. The speed of the election suggests a good measure of unity within the Conclave of Cardinals and bodes well for Francis I. His appointment is good news for the church as he is strongly orthodox on matters of sexuality and sexual ethics whilst being a champion of the social gospel not just in words but in lifestyle. He lives a simple life, uses the bus to go to work, has challenged the political leadership of his country and sees the need for reform in some areas of the church life. On top of that he is the first non-european Pope in over a thousand years and has not been involved in the inner circle in the Vatican. All in all a good choice for the Catholic Church and the Body of Christ world wide.

The appointment of Francis I obviously draws parallels with the appointment of Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury. He, too, is orthodox on sexuality and sexual ethics, has challenged the government on social gospel issues, sees the need for the reform of the church in some areas and has not been a Bishop long enough to be involved in the inner circle of the Church of England. Another excellent choice for his church, the Church of England, and the Body of Christ world wide.

9th March

The Healing Retreat was excellent. Fine weather at the start of the week meant I could do the first mow of the season on the new mower – excellent. Wood cutting and tree pruning with the chainsaw is moving along well and decluttering has begun. Sadly Offa House is closing soon but maybe we can pick up some of the bookings they are trying to relocate.

1st March

The decorating continues withthe help of International Volunteers and there are only a few bathrooms and a bedroom left to paint. Then it is ceilings, corridors and main meeting rooms. The mowing season starts this weekend and offers of help wiould be greatly appreciated. Looking forward to the Healing Retreat next week.

11th February

Small group came fron Lingdale (Tees-side), Bangor (North Wales), Exeter and Cornwall to help decorate Barnes Close. A combined mileage of 2700 miles. Concentrated on Coffee Bar and Bedroom 10. Maybe with some more local help we can finish this decorating.

28th January

The last ten days has been frustrating with most, but not all groups cancelling because of the weather. We were not seriously hampered in getting in and out, access being aided by the farmer clearing the drive between the tunnel and our cattle grid. Last nights Holocaust Memorial Day event went very well with twelve participants from five churches. We used the material produced by CCJ (Council for Christians and Jews).

13th January

John visited again this weekend from Lingdale (Tees-side), this time with his two eldest children Josh and Abigail. John concentrated on the Coffee Bar and has transformed it with a new paint scheme and the removal of surplus furniture. Jonas has continued painting bedrooms in the wing. It would be great if anyone more locally based could help us complete the re-decoration of the wing.

7th January

As i begin another new year as Community Coordinator I reflect upon the last 11 years and look forward to the future. The role of CfR seems as important as ever in a world that appears to be increasingly divided between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have nots and where old conflicts are rarely solved and new ones arise on a regular basis. Palestine & Israel, Syria, attacks on Christians in Nigeria, the Congo, Afghanistan, Kashmir are just some of the places where violence is a daily occurrence. Our work in southeast Europe continues to develop under Clive’s leadership and is moving beyond Croatia into Serbia and hopefully Bosnia. Our links with Romania remain strong and although not often in the news the ethnic tension and discrimination is still an ever present. Our partnership in East Africa continues and provides much needed support for PHARP and Maji Mazuri.

In 2013 I hope to see continued development of the programme we offer at Barnes Close, further significant work in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and I hope to visit Romania to discern the way forward for our support there. I expect our East Africa and India projects to continue much as now but, like all our prjects, we need to review the nature of our structures and support.

Happy new year!

2012

18th November

John visited again from North Yorkshire and began repainting the Lower Ground Floor corridor and toilets. He also brought with him furniture, pictures and paint to improve the house. It is always good to see John. The international volunteers have also helped with the painting. Our hope is to paint the entire interior of the house this winter and moved on to the external woodwork in the spring. John does a 400 round trip and spends 8 hours with us each Saturday he comes. Thank you John. More local volunteers would be extremely welcome.

9th November

Had a good trip to Hamburg for Church & Peace. It is always good to meet up with colleagues from European churches and peace organisations

29th September

We had our first Marketing and Membership & Programme group meetings this week. Both were very positive and I look forward to their ideas coming to fruition. A volunteer gardener is with us today, all the way from Tees-side for the day, and the transformation of the bog garden continues.

16th September

At the AGM and subsequent Council Meeting we moved forward by creating three new groups namely Marketing, Membership & Programme and Fund Raising. We also noted the appointment of new Patrons.

19th August

75 people enjoyed the Cream Teas today and consumed 10 dozen scones, 4 pots of jam, 4 pints of cream, 16 litres of tea and 4 litres of coffee. It was great to see you all

12th August

Upward Challenge were at Barnes Close. It was an excellent week. During their service project time they created and installed a cross in the bog garden, created a camp fire circle on the edge of the bog garden and worked on the tennis courts. Thank you.

The website has been modified to include a pdf version of the latest N ewslink.

2nd August

Had excellent Youth Peace Camp and Kids for Peace. Both were really great and everybody enjoyed themselves.

2nd July

I was in Hamburg last week on the interviewing panel for the new General Secretary of Church & Peace. It was a good expereience. We met at the brand new Ecumenical Forum in the HafenCity development. The Forum houses church offices for staff for various churches, a chapel, meeting rooms, a Fair Trade cafe, living accommodation for members of the St Laurentis Convent and guest bedrooms.

20th June

Friday at Barnes Close on 29th June from 12noon to 2pm will be hosted by Jan Scott, Chair of CfR. Come along met Jan, enjoy fellowship, discussion, food and prayer

10th June

Last Friday I represented CfR and a day conference on ‘Justice, Peace and the Kingdom of God’ It was held at Rowheath Pavilion in Bournville and was organised by Springdale College and the Fellowship of the Churches of Christ. It was an excellent day and a great opportunity to network

12th May

I had a good weekend in Bruxelles for the Church & Peace AGM and Conference. It was great to spend time with people involved in peace and reconciliation work across Europe

10th April

Had a good Easter.The Beacon & St Chad’s United services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday went very well and cat The Beacon we had several visitors in worship on Easter Day. The Easter Walk from Barnes Close was done in much better weather than forecast and the Open Easter evening went exceedingly well.

May you all know the joy of the resurrection this Easter and every day.

1st April

We had an excellent Focus on East Africa yesterday. Rev Edwin Kibathi a minister from the Presbyterian Church East Africa spoke about the situation in Kenya today in morning and in the afternoon Richard Morris of the Maji Mazuri Trust UK gave a presentation on the work of the Maji Mazurir Centre in the Mathare Valley Shanty Town of Nairobi

27th March

Yesterday’s CfR Footprints meeting well. Encouraging things happen and appropriate structure and support set up for the project.

12th March

Had an excellent Healing & Wholeness course last week.
Preached at Baxter URC, Kidderminster on Sunday 11th March and advertised CfR events.

5th March

Had a group from Liberal Judaism in this weekend. It went well

25th February

I attended the Church & Peace AC at Laufdorf in Germany. It was great to share with colleagues from Germany, Serbia, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. This is a good link for CfR

16th February

Had an excellent Kids for Peace sleepover

30th January

The Community for Reconciliation now has a facebook page

29th January

Had a great Youth Houseparty this weeked. For our theme we watched three films and discussed how they portrayed love, truth, justice, honesty, integrity etc.

2011 was a significant year. We celebrated 25 years of being at Barnes Close with a special service at Carrs Lane Church, Birmingham in April and a Garden Party at Barnes Close in June. I celebrated 10 years of being Community Co-Ordinator for CfR and Clive Fowle has begun a three year halftime post working for CfR Footprints, Touch of Hope which will boost our work in Croatia. Now we are well into 2012 .

25th December – Community Coordinator’s Christmas Message

At Christmas our thoughts turn naturally to God as we remember the birth of Jesus the Son of God in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago. For an all too brief moment we capture the full measure of God’s love for His world as we recognise the greatest gift anyone can give – themselves. Such love requires a response, not because the giver, in this case God, demands it but because we are so overwhelmed by their generosity. We mull over in our minds what an appropriate response should be. Should we give more of our income away? Are their lifestyle changes that we should make? Do we need spend more time in prayer, worship and service? We listen to the news or read the newspapers and find ourselves faced with problems we seem powerless to change. Famine in the horn of Africa, churches bombed in Nigeria, protestors killed in Syria, suicide bombings in Iraq, youth unemployment and rising homelessness in the UK, the list is endless. Maybe the answer is in that prayer we regularly say, ‘Your Kingdom come, Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven’. We need to stop saying it as if we expect someone else to solve the problems, or God to intervene supernaturally. Instead we need to realise that God is asking to do it with him. He needs our time, talents, gifts and resources to build his kingdom on earth. Our response to Christmas is to take our responsibility seriously, to play our part in building his kingdom and that may well require a transformation of our lifestyle, priorities and use of our resources.

19th DecemberThe annual Open Christmas Evening at Barnes Close was a great success. Nearly sixty people from children to a lady who was celebrating her 90th birthday came and enjoyed an evening of carols, entertainment and a wonderful buffet

11th December –  I spoke at Zion United Reformed Church, Langley Green.

20th November –  I spoke about the work of CfR at Four Ways Baptist Church Cradley Heath Café Church.

2nd – 4th November – I attended the Church & Peace Administrative Committee (AC) at Weierhof, Kirchheim-Bolanden. Weierhof is a Mennonite Community in the Pfalz region of Germany. The AC has members from Serbia, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and myself representing Britain & Ireland. If you would like to know more about the work of Church & Peace please see http://www.church-and-peace.org

23rd October – I spoke at Baxter URC, Kidderminster

If you would like me to speak about the work of CfR at your church, organisation or group please email me or call me on 01562 710231

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