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Archive for October, 2013

All Souls Requiem

Saturday, November 2nd, 5pm: All Souls Requiem at St Mary’s Priory Church

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Speaking at a service at St Mary’s Priory Church,  to mark the close of  One World Week the Church in Wales Church & Society Officer, The Revd Carol Wardman said:

“Archbishop Oscar Romero said:  Aspire not to have more, but to be more.

St Paul said:  ‘You were the first, not only to give, but also to have the desire to do so. … [it is]  not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed; but that there might be equality.’  [2 Cor 8:10;13]

The ‘Enough Food If’ – or ‘Digon o fwyd i bawb Os’ – campaign, which held a celebration event this afternoon in One World Week at St Woolos Cathedral – says:

There is enough food for everyone IF

  • Governments of the rich world commit themselves to sharing their wealth with the poor through giving just a modest amount of overseas aid every year;
  • Companies pay proper taxes in the countries where they make their money;
  • Small farmers and indigenous people have their rights protected so that they can remain on their land and grow food;
  • AND
  • There is transparency about what is going on between powerful companies and national governments, so that unscrupulous businesses or corrupt officials can’t get away with it.

‘You were the first, not only to give, but also to have the desire to do so. … [it is] not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed; but that there might be equality.’ 

Aspire not to have more, but to be more.

Once upon a time, overseas aid was all about rich countries giving money and sometimes a bit of voluntary labour to ‘help the poor’.  Safe in our comfortable homes, we knew that a little bit of our money would send sacks of rice to to dollop into the bowls of the hungry; or equip paramedics to take vaccines to people living in mud huts in a clearing in the jungle; or would dig wells and install pumps in a villages with no water supply.  It was simple:  take a bit of our plenty, as St Paul encouraged the Corinthians, and use it to supply someone else’s need.  And so, like the Corinthians, we were eager to give.

As the years went by, and especially in the last few years, we noticed things beginning to change.  Some of the places where we sent lots of aid – like the Asian sub-continent, South America, Indonesia, parts of Africa – started to become noticeably prosperous.

Economies like Brazil, India and the once-isolated, quaintly non-industrialised China, began to rival our own.  People in remote villages suddenly appeared with also mobile phones.  The rumours that India and Pakistan were testing nuclear weapons proved true.  On newsreels from China, we no longer saw bicycles pouring in great flocks though their burgeoning cities, but hundreds and hundreds of cars causing gridlock.  India and Brazil even felt the need to embark on space programs. 

And meanwhile, philanthropic charities like Oxfam and Christian Aid, who used to bring a tear to our eye with pictures of starving children made happy by truckloads of grain, suddenly started turning all political.  Instead of just demanding our small change, they started demanding that our governments examine their own spending plans; or they started shining a light on well-known multi-national companies, demanding that they start paying proper taxes in the countries where they make their money; or they want us to write to our favourite clothes shops and ask them if they know where and how their garments are made, and if the factories are paying their workers fairly and observing health and safety regulations.

Clearly, there is still something desperately wrong when 72% of the poorest people in the world – a new ‘bottom billion’ as the Centre for Global Development calls it – live in countries officially classified as ‘middle income’.  In these newly prosperous places, where for increasing numbers of newly prosperous people there are I-pads and designer clothes and and top-class universities, there are others still living in the most abject conditions, without access to such basics of life as clean water, food, primary education, or healthcare. 

Strangely enough – or perhaps it’s not strange at all – as we start to see recognisable patterns of wealth and employment and educational attainment in formerly poverty-stricken countries, whilst at the same time we struggle with the cost of living and see our welfare state shrinking, it becomes more and more obvious that we are ‘one world’; and that what happens in one part of it impacts for good or ill on many others.

‘[it is] not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed [said St P]; but that there might be equality. … [and so, I urge you to] finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it.’

Our ‘completion of the work’ to help our sisters and brothers in poverty, ‘so that there might be equality’ might now have to change from our traditional models of philanthropic giving.  The scandal of poverty today is not that we are slow to respond to natural disasters or that

we don’t have the means to produce enough to support the world’s burgeoning population; but that there is plenty of capacity to encourage self-help and improve self-sufficiency  – IF only we start to demand the same standards of behaviour in all parts of the world as we expect in our own. 

The problems of faraway places no longer seem so remote.  The IF/OS campaign emphasises the sin of tax evasion; and thanks to our own experiences with the likes of Starbucks and Google and Amazon, we now all know how easy it is for great big global companies, with operations all over the world, to exploit different tax regimes and loopholes to avoid paying their fair share.  Taxation should support the governments and the infrastructure in the countries where they make their money, because that’s what creates a safe environment for them to do business, as well as providing health, education, security, a fair legal system and all the other things we take for granted.  Even here, as we face cutbacks in funds to support these services, we have become acutely aware that some of those big players who enjoy the benefits of an educated workforce, a robust legal system and (on the whole!) a straight-dealing government, are not contributing their fair share towards maintaining them. And globally, more money is lost to governments in struggling countries from unpaid tax than they ever receive in aid – so imagine how much they could achieve, AND how much we could all save, IF those taxes were fairly paid. 

In our globalised economy, any trip to the corner shop reminds us of our inter-dependence on trading relationships across the world.  Those quintessentially British staples of tea, coffee, chocolate, much of our sugar, the textiles in our favourite brands of underwear, or that ultra-convenient chart-topping fruit the banana, all come from far-flung parts of the world where workers are dependent on our custom for their livelihoods.  We need what they have (as St P reminded the Corinthians); so we should be spending our money on producers who pay a decent wage, give small farmers and growers a voice, and use our consumer power to influence retailers to insist on these standards in the products they stock.  Signing up as churches to the Fair Trade pledge so we can become the world’s first Fair Trade Province is one small way we can do this:  and never doubt that it makes a difference.  In a recent film from Shared Interest, a financial co-op that supports Fair Trade enterprises overseas, an African producer said:  “Thanks to Fair Trade, my family can now have 2 meals a day instead of just one.”  That’s not the result of charitable giving; that’s the result of a business arrangement that benefits both sides of our One World.

In March this year, you’ll remember the Savar disaster – the collapse of a building complex in Bangla Desh that housed shops, banks, clothing factories and childcare facilities – which claimed up to 1300 lives, and left hundreds more chronically disabled.  There was nothing ‘natural’ in this disaster, and its main cause was not really even poverty:  the disaster happened because regulations had been disregarded, and no-one had seen fit to enforce them.  The building had been put up in contravention of all planning permission and building regulations.  The factory workers – many of them under-age, and regularly exceeding legal limits on working hours – were locked in with no means of escape, despite health and safety regulations.  According to recent reports on the BBC, although in theory they have been awarded compensation, the vast majority of victims who can’t afford to take their employers to law have received nothing; whilst workers who lost their jobs in the collapse, or family members and neighbours of the victims now struggling to support their families, have gone to work elsewhere in similar conditions, because still nobody is enforcing the law. 

People in these situations don’t need food aid; they need aid to employ health and safety inspectors, or trades union officials to help them claim their rights.  It may be less appealing to say “give us your money and we’ll help the local authority employ officials who aren’t corrupt” than to say “give us your money and we’ll buy food for the starving” – but it will save as many lives.

[give] that there might be equality. … [and so] finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it.’

Happily, recognising the One-ness of our world doesn’t always mean doom and gloom and beating ourselves up about what we fail to do.  It can mean moments of joy and celebration too – so I’d like to end on a happier note.

One World Week has also been Interfaith Week; and on Tuesday, I was lucky enough to be invited to the annual lecture, dinner and awards ceremony organised in Cardiff by the Moslem Council of Wales.  It was, to be honest, rather a glittering occasion:  the dress code was ‘evening dress or national costume’ (so despite some teasing from my colleagues I didn’t wear a Welsh costume!!) – but as you can imagine, with representatives from all over the world and a lot of them from the Asian communities, there was a lot of glittering embroidery and gorgeous colours on show.  The setting was the grandeur of the National Museum of Wales, and the prestigious guest lecturers were Shaykh Dr Asim Yusuf (quite a young man but a one of Europe’s foremost modern Islamic scholars, and a consultant psychiatrist) and Most Revd Vincent Nichols, RC Archbishop of Westminster.  After the lectures, there were award presentations to people who have done the most over the past year to contribute to the Islamic community and its relations with wider society in Wales; and in that most establishment of settings, the massive lecture theatre of the National Museum packed with over 300 people, it was wonderful to see many of the award citations being read out by poised, confident, unbelievably elegant young Moslem women.  Most of them wore Moslem dress with beautifully-arranged glowing-coloured scarves over their hair; but one woman came to the stage in a full face veil – which did nothing at all to obstruct her voice or her personality as she introduced one of the award-winners.  Some awards went to senior politicians – including to Ieian Wynn-Jones, ex-leader of Plaid Cymru, who naturally responded in Welsh – and one went to a Moslem woman senior teacher at Canton High School, who gave a very school-teacherish speech about the importance in Islam of making a contribution to your community. 

But the awards I found most moving were those that went to now rather elderly, quietly-spoken, Moslem men in Western suits, who had come to this country as penniless immigrants in the 1960s, and who had risen to become pillars of their local communities as doctors, JPs, Councillors; and had founded Muslim or inter-faith societies in their new home towns.  Seeing how these people, many of whom moved to an alien land where they faced prejudice and misunderstanding, but opened their hearts to embrace their new neighbours without losing their faith or denying their culture, now celebrating at the heart of Welsh life in a historic building in our nation’s capital, was to see in action how we are all One World.

Rethinking our foreign aid so that we focus on very modern things like tax justice and sound national infrastructure; using mutually beneficial trading arrangements; and not denying our differences but celebrating the diversity of our cosmopolitan, global community; all says that we are One World.

Aspire not to have more, but to be more.

‘You were the first, not only to give, but also to have the desire to do so. … [it is] not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed; but that there might be equality.’

To God be the glory, amongst all of God’s people in every part of God’s world, now and for ever.  Amen.”

 

 

 

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We will remember all victims of road traffic accidents at our annual service on November 17th at 3pm. Please do join us if you are yourself a victim, are in the emergency services  or if you would like to support victims.

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World day of Remembrance activities now take place in countries of every continent around the world

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One World Week

The Church in Wales Social responsibility Officer, Revd Carol Wardman  will be the preacher at St Mary’s Priory Church to mark One World Week at 6pm on Sunday (October 27th).
 
Using the Psalms as the basis of prayer, the service will deal with the theme ‘More than enough’  Fr Mark Soady Vicar, said “THE Psalms as a conversation between the Psalmist and God. With the aid of the Psalms we bring to God the needs of our world”.
 
One World Week is a Development Education Charity*. Each year, “The Week” is an opportunity for people from diverse backgrounds to come together to learn about global justice, to spread that learning and to use it to take action for justice locally and globally. This year’s theme is asking us to respond to Archbishop Romero’s call to “Aspire not to have more but to be more” and to think about how we, as individuals and citizens, could by being more add to the wellbeing of all of us and our planet by addressing the challenges of a warming world, declining resources, growing inequality and unrest.

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Remembranctide

The beginning of November is a time of Remembrance

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November 2nd All Souls

5pm Requiem Mass when we will remember the Faithful Departed

November 10th Remembrance Sunday

10.50 Act of Remembrance, Laying of Wreaths & Choral Eucharist: We will remember all who have died in the fight for freedom and peace

November 17th Road Peace Sunday

3pm Service of Remembrance for all who have been killed or injured in road traffic accidents

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It has been announced that the author Revd Mark Lawson-Jones will be the speaker at the Abergavenny Anglican Churches Together Joint PCC Quiet Day at Ty Mawr Convent on October 26th.

Fr Mark is the Vicar of Cyncoed and the Diocesan Ecumenical Officer. A former Chair of the Diocesan Board of Social Responsibility he will speak on ‘How the churches can develop their Outreach policy’. He is the author of   ‘Why is the partdridge in a pear tree?’ -The History of Christmas Carols  and  ‘The Little Book of Wales’ -Here we find out about the country’s food, sports, eccentric inhabitants, famous sons and daughters and literally hundreds of wacky facts.     Another book of his  is pending.

Ty Mawr is home to the sisters of the Society of the Sacred Cross. Found in Chichester in 1914  they moved here in 1924. Their Visitor is  Bishop Dominic Walker and our current Bishop is an Associate  of theirs.

The members of the small Community, dedicated to the Cross, live a monastic, contemplative life of prayer based on silence, solitude and learning to live together under vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The Daily Offices and other times of shared and private prayer span each day, together with a common life which includes study, recreation and work in the house and grounds of the Convent. We will enter in to this life of prayer for the day we are there.

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It is with great pleasure that we announce that we are to again host the Bishop of the Highveld  and welcome back Bishop Dominic ( our former Bishop).

This Sunday,Bishop Dominic will Celebrate and Preach at the 10.30am Service at Holy Trinity Church, Baker Street , which will also be attended by Bishop David of our link Diocese of the Highveld.

Last February visiting 7 Corners, and seeing what they do.

Last February visiting 7 Corners, and seeing what they do.

Bishop David last visited Abergavenny in February of this year. Ten years ago next month the Cathedral of the Highveld where he was Dean was then linked to St Mary’s Priory, Abergavenny.

“I am pleased we are able to welcome back old friends in Bishops Dominic and David. It is always a pleasure to host their visits”, said Fr Mark Soady, Vicar of Abergavenny.

On Sunday afternoon Bishop David will attend a Highveld/Monmouth Link Service at the Cathedral, while Bishop Dominic will Preach at the Harvest Thanksgiving Eucharist at Christchurch, North Street.

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