The kindness of strangers (and schools)

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” (Matthew 25, v. 35).

It feels like a dark and anxious time at the moment with deep divisions in the country and real fears for the future, especially for those already on the edges of society. However, from time to time something happens which shines a light into the darkness.

Such a light was shone today (Friday, October 11) when some unexpected visitors turned up at St Mark’s. Five pupils and a member of staff from Edgeborough School arrived, unannounced, in a van stuffed with bags and bags of food for the Farnham Foodbank. They had collected the food as part of their Harvest Festival celebrations and had given with huge generosity.

The six of them unloaded the van, piled the food high, stopped for a brief photo, and disappeared again.  We didn’t even know their names and they won’t know the names of the people who receive their gifts. It was a real moment of unexpected light and sharing between strangers. Thank you!

It shouldn’t be the case in 21st-century Britain that people have to rely on foodbanks but that is a reality for increasing numbers of families. Between April 2018 and March 2019, for instance, the Trussell Trust’s foodbank network, with which the Farnham foodbank is associated, distributed 1.6 million three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis, a 19 per cent increase on the previous year. More than half a million of these went to children. The Farnham Foodbank itself gave 1,499 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis last year.

We are all vulnerable to crisis, none of us intend to be. But sometimes, like Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire, we find ourselves depending on ‘the kindness of strangers’. And when Jesus was challenged in Matthew 25 to answer “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?” he replied: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

A heartfelt thanks to Edgeborough School and all those who donate to Farnham Foodbank.

 

New light on an old mystery

We have come a little closer to solving the mystery of the old wooden altar at St Mark’s. The altar is Tudor in style and has an inscription “GIVEN BI HENRIE LVNNE 1608”, but St Mark’s was built in 1883, 275 years later.

Bob Skinner, a great friend of the church and a leader of Weybourne Community Church, has been on the case and found this cutting in the Surrey Advertiser from December 4, 1880. It’s still three years before the church was built, but read on:

Cutting about Lunn altar

It reads:

‘PRESENTATION TO THE PARISH CHURCH. – The Parish Magazine for December, just published, says:- “A working party of ladies in Farnham have presented a new altar to the Parish Church. This, with a new altar cloth, was placed in the church on St Andrew’s Day, Nov. 20th. The old altar and altar cloth have been accepted by the Vicar of Hale for the use of a church which it is intended to begin next year at Hale Common.”

So, the altar was in St Andrew’s Church – the Parish Church in question – until November 1880. St Mark’s was built over the next three years on land given by Bishop Sumner, the Bishop of Winchester (the area was in the Diocese of Winchester at the time) and flint from the common was used to build the walls.

We still don’t know the full history of the altar but it is possible that Henry Lunne, who has been recorded as living in Farnham in the second half of the 16th century, gave it to St Andrew’s as the church was well established then. In fact, parts of St Andrew’s date from the 12th century.

If anyone does know any more however, let us know. Leave us a comment here or email news@badshotleaandhale.org

In memory of lost babies

The loss of a baby, either in the womb or at or soon after birth, is a tragedy which affects thousands of families every year, and each person’s grief will be personal and unique. This year, during Baby Loss Awareness Week (October 9-15), St George’s Church will be holding a drop-in session on Friday, October 11, from 3-4pm, for people to come and reflect and light candles in memory of lost babies. There will be a memory tree in the church and there will be the opportunity for anyone who wishes to talk over a cup of tea.

Rev’d Hannah Moore said: “We hope that anyone who is grieving the loss of a baby – however long ago this happened – will be able to draw comfort from coming to the church on Friday afternoon. They will have the opportunity to light a candle for their children and write their names on paper ribbons to hang on the memory tree, and will also be able to talk about their lost little ones if they wish. Acknowledging that grief – whether it stems from a recent tragedy or one that occurred months, even many years, ago – can help enormously in the healing process. There will be the opportunity to pray if anyone wishes – we believe in a God who is alongside us in the tragedies of life as well as on the good days.”

The annual awareness week, now in its 17th year, is an opportunity for bereaved parents, families and friends, to commemorate babies’ lives and break the silence around pregnancy and baby loss in the UK. The week is led by Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, in collaboration with 70 charities in the UK.

Clea Harmer, chief executive of Sands, said: “Baby Loss Awareness Week is a unique opportunity for parents to commemorate their babies who died, and I hope the afternoon at St George’s will help bereaved families in the local area feel less isolated and alone in their grief.

“Pregnancy loss or the death of a baby is a tragedy that affects thousands of people every year. It is devastating for parents and families and it’s vital they get the bereavement support and care they need, for as long as they need it.”

Anyone who needs pastoral care is urged to contact Hannah Moore on 01252 659267 or Wendy Edwards on 0​1252 406772.