Many people in the Diocese will be aware of out long-standing links with Lulea in Sweden and Papua New Guinea. What may come as a surprise is the extent of further links recently uncovered. The Revd Canon Christopher Davies explains.
A survey by the Diocesan World Engagement Group has revealed that Benefices across the Diocese have active and well-established links with a further 51 countries.
It has been a wonderful experience to read the responses to the survey and learn how people at local level have immersed themselves in the lives of so many communities abroad, many of whom are in desperate circumstances.
It is particularly uplifting to learn how, over and again, those involved at first-hand have said how blessed they have felt through their contacts and how much it has enriched their own faith and their understanding of the global church.
Limitations of space allow me to give only a snapshot of the enormously varied contacts that have been made and the life-changing projects which are being supported, but here are a few:
Debbie Reed has achieved great things with the support of St Nicholas, Blakeney and Blakeney Methodist Church. When asked on her 60th birthday if she wanted a party, Debbie said that she would rather “do some good” and so began her amazing link with a Cambodian orphanage where 75 per cent of the children have special needs. Supported by the churches and with a lot of fundraising, Debbie goes out each year for a month. Debbie saves all year so that she can buy rice and clothing when she goes. When asked what a difference it had made to her faith Debbie responded:
“I feel I am meant to be there, whether helping them learn English or offering other practical help. The experience has boosted my faith.”
When the Mission Group at St Peter’s Church, Carlton Colville, Lowestoft, received an unexpected legacy, rather than spend it locally they decided to sponsor six children through the charity Compassion. Sue Cummings says:
“We chose to do this because the couple who left the legacy had no children of their own and were always helping children in their lifetime. ”
The group is currently sponsoring children in Ghana, Rwanda, Ecuador, Nicaragua and India.
Judith Pegden of the Glaven Valley Benefice has been three times in the past six years to visit Rwanda, where a group from the parish has helped to build two houses. They also take out vital water filters. Glaven Valley also has strong links with Ibba Girls School in South Sudan. The school, now in its fourth year, has up to 160 students Debbie Read in Cambodia from the age of 10.
What is clear from all the survey responses is the great blessing that those closely involved in these links have received. It would be great to hear from any other parishes which have yet to respond to our survey. We have a map on the Diocesan website showing all the links. www.dioceseofnorwich.org/churches/society/world/
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Lulea twins: Thetford and Holmsund
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East Harling & Ave – sharing life lessons
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Burkina Faso and Norwich: a community partnership
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From China to Cawston – lessons in Mandarin
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Rethinking mission for the twenty-first century
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