At Brian’s initiative and form filling, HM Custom and Revenue office this week paid £11,432 by way of VAT reclaim on much of the work done to the church building this year. This unexpected bonus is great news – thanks to Julie Howells, from the Revenue and of course to Brian.
Children called out, ‘How are you’, running up to shake our hands, extending our walk from Guest- house to Cathedral. It was Monday morning, the first day of the Mundri Diocese Youth Leaders Conference. It did not take long to see where delegates were gathering: under the mango trees, in the Cathedral compound. Not many were there by 9.30, but the choir certainly was, reinforced by 4 large loudspeakers defining the meeting area.
We (SOMA team; 5 UK, 1 S. Sudanese, 1 Kenyan) sat down. Lenin was on video camera, a tall, very dark and serious looking man. He also had a warm smile, faithfully remaining at his station throughout. The Rev’d Repent Abraham, the Diocesan Secretary, (called Abraham; what might a child make hearing yet again, Repent!?) stood in for Bishop Bismark, who could only be there briefly, on 2 days.
Each day began with worship – with strong PA help. The computerised backings took some getting used to. We shared around the teaching (translated into Juba Arabic.) We each spoke a bit about own Christian experience. We gave opportunity for the delegates to do the same and we prayed for them. Oliver had injured his ankle playing football, under- estimating the seriousness. By the end of the week, he had more movement,
There were tea breaks (with yummy doughnuts one day) and a hot lunch for 70, appearing effortlessly, it seemed, all done on a charcoal fire.
After lunch, there were groups to discuss key issues facing their Youth. There may now be peace, but this is not an easy time. The family, traditionally central, is under great strain. Youth unemployment is high. The church, rather than seeming out of touch, could hold the key of hope for the future.
The fairy lights had stayed up, and the Hall’s rest had been short before the Fair was being set up. We had, in the meantime, over 140 people at the Christingle Service. There was the usual bustle at 2.00pm, as the door opened; and who should be there, but Santa, present in hand! The smell of mulled wine from the kitchen and then of a bacon butty being eaten (by Steve) in the Hall drew attention to the great food. Old favourite stalls were there; the books stall did well; and so did the new stall trading jewelry. £500 later we went home – and all unsold was given to Fara and the Shooting Star.
The gig in the Hall was well supported and raised close to £500. With other
donations this will more than pay our share of the cost St John’s taking part in The Shelter Project Hounslow from February.
Thanks to all who worked so hard: Jayne and the fantastic Roosevelt Bandwagon; Gill, Dave and Richard behind the bar; Dave B behind the door
(and a great raffle prize), Emma likewise; Steve for sound engineering skills. Brian for looking after the money. My fellow Jam Junkies ask me to pass on their thanks to all. If you are interested in volunteering, contact me.
First stop, the font. ‘How many of you go to church?’ Up went a few enthusiastic hands from Year 4 of Worple School at their visit to St John’s. ‘And who has seen a baptism?’ About the same number of hands. A lesson then about why the font has 8 sides. One of the boy’s names gave a clue. And a girl whispered that it was her birthday.
‘Who recognises names of books from the Bible’, as the CD played. Exodus! Joshua! Samuel! Isaiah! My father’s name is John! My brother’s is Mark! Attempts to say Genesis and Revelation, eg, were only partially successful.
We looked up at the West window. ‘Can we sing our song about Herod?’ They impressively went for it; reminding everyone how horrid he was.
Testing out the pulpit was a huge hit, so Katherine the teacher reports. ‘I can’t hear you!’ could be heard from the back, so voices were raised. When the PA went on, there was even more scope. ‘What’s written on the floor by the font?’ one boy asked. Down on our knees, we deciphered the plaque of the congregation’s gratitude to their first vicar. Others got on drawing some of the features of the church.
‘You can now ask Father Tom your questions,’ Katherine advised. ‘How old are you?’ How much money do you earn?’ (Katherine was not sure about that one.) Where do you get the candles from? ‘What’s the best bit of your job?’ ‘How did you choose to come to Isleworth?’ ‘Have you got a prayer to pray with us? When you pray, how do you feel the Spirit?’ Yes, especially when I pray in public, I feel the Spirit inspiring my words, feeling something of God’s heart,
Katherine writes: Thank you so much for making Year 4s visit so enjoyable and informative. The children had a great time and when we went back to school we wrote about our visit. I do like older buildings like St John’s. It has a lovely atmosphere.