Author: The Revd Dr Fiona Haworth
Published on 1 September 2019
The Revd Fiona Haworth, assistant priest at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich city centre, shares her everyday faith journey with an emphasis on making a difference worldwide:
A formative experience for me as a young Christian at university was meeting students from different part of the world and listening to their stories. Many of these students were very hospitable, and sharing food was a very significant way of building friendships.
Sharing a meal and listening as Sudanese and Libyan students spoke about the political situations they faced at home and hearing their interpretation of global news from a non-Western perspective opened a new way of seeing and understanding the world for me and made me aware of the levels of injustice that many people faced in their daily lives.
How to make sense of what I heard and to act on it as a Christian was extremely challenging. When I read the gospels, I read them in the light of those formative conversations that challenged my understanding of power and colonialism. Fortunately, I became aware of the work of Christian Aid at a similar time and found in their work a positive way of engaging practically and spiritually with global issues.
I am a member of the Iona Community, and our rule of life commits us to daily prayer and requires us to work for justice, peace and the integrity of creation. Over a month the Community’s daily office prays for every nation in the world.
My prayers for many of these nations are informed by the work that Christian Aid is doing in these countries with their partner organisations. Praying for Sierra Leone, I remember the campaign for maternal health. When we pray for the Middle East, I particularly remember Zeina Zakar, who works with Christian Aid’s partner Association Najdeh in Lebanon supporting refugees.
I was able to arrange for Zeina to speak at a Sunday morning service at St Peter Mancroft. Hearing first-hand from Zeina about the plight of Syrian and Palestinian refugees brings home the reality of the situation in the Middle East in a way that no amount of news reports can. Zeina had a profound impact on the congregation.
I am very keen to engage with global issues in our worship. We should bring before God the wider world and issues of concern. I been involved in leading worship exploring a variety of global issues including “A Lament for Aleppo”, “Women’s Stories in the Light of #MeToo,” “The Challenge of Climate Change.”
When I am searching for resources addressing global issues, the Christian Aid website frequently has testimonies, prayers and stories which give a voice to people living in extremely challenging circumstances. It is also good to have simple, practical actions for people to participate in. Earlier this year, as part of the Christian Aid campaign, we took a letter signed by members of the congregation to HSBC in Norwich requesting that HSBC live up to their promises on climate justice.
Bringing global issues into our worship reminds us that we are part of the world that God has made, the world that God loves, and that our lives are bound up with the lives of all God’s children.