As we move into Lent it is helpful to reflect upon our own lives and the lives of those around us in our own communities and more widely in our country and across the world. Take time to reflect and pray about all that is happening and pray for God’s healing and peaceful hand to rest upon us all.
Here in the weeks of lent we will offer more information about the projects which are being supported through the Bishop of Southwark’s Lent Call. Take time to look at the materials which have been sent to your parish or find them on the Diocesan website at southwark.anglican.org/lentcall.
Please pray for those who will benefit from the Lent Call as part of your Lenten discipline and think about how you journey through Lent can help us to reflect upon all that God has given to us and what we can do in response.
Sign up to this blog at southwarklentcall.com/about and receive notification of when the next blog appears. We begin with a greeting from Bishop Christopher.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the Bishop’s Lent Call is getting to see the various ways in groups and individuals raise money to give to the causes which we’ve chosen to support. Our schools and churches hold events across the Diocese and, with the help of social media, share them with us. If you’ve got photos of what you did to help support the Bishop of Southwark’s Lent Call, tag us in them on Facebook and Twitter.
For some of our schools, the fundraising efforts culminate in the Lent Call Service held at Southwark Cathedral, where they bring their generous gifts to be received, and perform in the cathedral as part of the worship.
We won’t be closing the books yet, so there’s still time for you to donate. If you’ve not held an event, and want to do so, have a look at southwark.anglican.org/lentcall where you’ll find ideas for fundraisers and information on how to give.
As Lent draws to a close and we prepare to reflect on Jesus’ death and resurrection, please continue to hold in your prayers those people and projects for whom the Lent Call, and the money it raises, can make a real difference.
Much of the focus of the Bishop of Southwark’s Lent call this year has been on the importance of education, and Rt Revd Godfrey Tawonezvi, who has been the Bishop of Masvingo since the Diocese’s creation in 2002, talks in this video about the Diocesan Trustees decision to establish extra primary boarding and a new secondary boarding school.
A profile on Bishop Godfrey, in which he describes his ministry, is available on the Diocese of Masvingo’s website.
The Diocese of Masvingo has been linked with Southwark Cathedral since 2009 – read more about their partnership on the Cathedral’s website.
The Diocese of Matabeleland is in the south of Zimbabwe, bordering Zambia, Botswana and South Africa. Its main city is Bulawayo and the Diocese contains within it the major attractions of Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park.
Today, we hear from Bishop Cleophas Lunga, the Bishop of Matabeleland who talks about some of the issues facing his Diocese.
One of their major concerns is bringing together urban and rural parishes, so that they are each able to understand the other’s situation and specific problems.
Bishop Cleophas also talks about a project the Diocese is hoping to embark on which will help equip parishes to start their own new and vibrant income-generating projects.
As we enter the final week of the Bishop’s Lent Call we are continuing to think about our Link Dioceses in Zimbabwe. The second of these is the Diocese of Masvingo.
Masvingo is in the south east of Zimbabwe and is the newest of the five Anglican dioceses in Zimbabwe, having been established in 2001. It is linked with Southwark Cathedral rather than with one of the Episcopal Areas in the Diocese.
As with our other Link Dioceses, education is a vitally important part of the Church’s mission. The future stability of Zimbabwe will be greatly helped by generations of young people coming through the country’s schools equipped with the best possible education that they can get and the church has a major role in providing this.
The Diocese of Masvingo looks after nine Primary and five Secondary Schools and, as in other parts of the Zimbabwe, the infrastructure is in desperate need of attention. Everything from textbooks and stationery to furniture and staff accommodation is in short supply and the Diocese is helping wherever and however it can.
One of the biggest schools in Masvingo is Daramombe High School at the Daramombe Mission in Chivhu. This has close to 850 pupils and has recently been able to increase the number of pupils it can take and educate, after the boarding facilities were expanded through the construction of two hostels, one for girls and the other one for boys and a classroom block consisting of two classrooms.
During a visit to Daramombe last year, Bishop Christopher and others from Southwark Diocese were able to see the new buildings and were greeted by the choir who sang for them:
Other support has enabled the Diocese of Masvingo to buy batteries for the solar panels in Chidzikwe where there are several projects going on and to repair motorbikes for the clergy to use. Parishes can cover vast areas and a motorbike can make it possible for a member of clergy to get around their parish in much less time. Your support of the Bishop’s Lent Call makes it possible for our Link Dioceses to take on both the big construction projects and the smaller, more local and personal, projects – all of which help towards ensuring that the Church in Zimbabwe can continue to play its part in what we hope will be a brighter future for the country.
The final two weeks of the Bishop’s Lent Call for 2018 are about the projects and initiatives that we are supporting in our Link Dioceses in Zimbabwe.
The political situation in Zimbabwe has undergone major changes in the last year and the country now has a new President – Emmerson Mnangagwa, who announced in January that the country would have “free, credible, fair and indisputable” elections by the middle of 2018.
This will be a difficult time for the people of Zimbabwe, no matter what the outcome is. Change often brings uncertainty and, even though Zimbabwe is a country where there has been sustained uncertainty for a long period of time, there will still be new situations to for the people to adapt to.
The bishops in our Link Dioceses: Bishop Ishmael in Central Zimbabwe, Bishop Erick in Manicaland, Bishop Godfrey in Masvingo and Bishop Cleophas in Matabeleland have asked that the people of the Diocese of Southwark pray for the peace of Zimbabwe and the safety of its people. Bishop Chad Gandiya, the Bishop of Harare (which is twinned with Rochester Diocese), suggested in a letter he wrote in November 2017 that people should use a revised version of the prayer for Africa:
God bless Zimbabwe
Guide her leaders
Guard her people
And give her peace. Amen!
This Lent we are focusing on schools in our Link Dioceses, which will help young people to grow and progress to be part of what we hope will be a bright future for Zimbabwe by giving them the best education possible . Throughout the country, Church schools are a very important part of the Church’s work.
Over the next two weeks we hope to have short films from all of the Bishops of our Link Dioceses and we start today with a message from Bishop Ishmael Mukuwanda, the Bishop of Central Zimbabwe, who is due to retire shortly:
The last of the projects that this year’s Bishop’s Lent Call is supporting within the Diocese of Southwark is the Croydon branch of the Association for Pastoral Care in Mental Health (APCMH).
Croydon APCMH started its first drop-in in 1990 and has grown in the last 28 years to offer a much wider range of services to those with mental health needs in the Croydon Area. From their base at St Mildred’s Community Centre in Addiscombe they now run a Women’s Club, Creative workshops on art and writing, a Spiritual Club with meditation, three drop-ins in various locations in the borough and a Welfare Support project – helping people who are experiencing difficulties accessing local mental health services or are confused about benefits.
Father Andrew Wilson, the Vice Chair of Croydon APCMH, takes up the story…
The Spires Centre had its initial beginnings as a temporary Christmas shelter in 1989 jointly organised by the congregations of English Martyrs and St Leonard’s churches in Streatham – with much support from the local community – as a service for local homeless people.
Since then, the Spires Centre (as it became known from 1993) has grown and expanded and its services now include a Rough Sleeper Space, Spires Streetlink (which includes outreach and centre services for women involved in sex work), an Open Access drop-in, a Women’s Space and an Adult Learning Centre.
Here is a short film about their work:
Every year the Bishop’s Lent Call supports local projects in the Diocese of Southwark – one in each of the Episcopal Areas of Croydon, Kingston and Woolwich. These projects have covered a wide range of activities in places all around the Diocese but have all had one thing in common – they support people in their local communities who are in need. That need may differ from project to project but the support is always there.
This year the projects benefiting from the Lent Call are Bede House – a local community charity supporting the communities in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe; the Croydon branch of the Association for Pastoral Care in Mental Health, which aims to help people with mental health issues realise their full potential as individuals and so improve the quality of their lives; and The Spires Centre in Streatham which helps people who are homeless or in insecure accommodation and are also facing complex issues such as long term unemployment, physical and mental health issues and substance abuse problems.
The first of the projects we are featuring is Bede House: in our first film Nick Dunne, the Director, tells us more about the project and what it does for the local community and in the second film we meet Bobbi – who started as a service user at Bede’s youth project when she was 8 and is now a Lead Youth Worker at the same youth project