All posts by stellawiseman

A justifiably proud SHIP

“SHIP has been a lifeline to me and I’m sure many others”.

The SHIP in question is the Sandy Hill Inclusive Partnership, a combination of residents and professional groups involved with the community and with a vision to enable Sandy Hill to become a cleaner, safer place where there is a good sense of community and everyone can have a voice.

SHIP is based around the Hale Community Centre, formerly – and still often – known as The Bungalow, and its work reaches far into the streets around, drawing together families and individuals from across the estate.

A recent report of activities from December last year to summer this year indicates just what an impact the group is having, from 95 people going to the Princes Hall in Aldershot to their pantomime, 70 – including many new families – attending a Christmas party – and 50 coming over to St Mark’s Church to play games, have lunch and do craft at February half-term. There was a sold-out trip to Marwell Zoo, a visit to the beach, a craft event, basketball, a busy session of picking up litter followed by tea, a summer barbecue and lots of new relationships formed, including with St Mark’s where two joint events have now been held and more planned in the future. Other churches and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community have also joined in events.

The report also emphasised that: “it’s not always about numbers but about the individual need of that person/family and the positive impact the activity may have on them at that time and this is not easy to measure”.

One of the groups involved with SHIP is WiSH – Women in Sandy Hill. These are the people who are responsible for the garden by and indeed inside the boat just outside the Community Centre, and they have also been taken part in craft activities, autism awareness, cake decorating, sensory bottle making, and are currently engaged in a 12-week Art for Wellbeing course (some of the work is shown below).

Wish art

Some extra outside recognition came this year when the results of South and South East in Bloom were announced in September. In the ‘Your Neighbourhood’ category, Hale Community Centre’s Get Growing Gardening project received a Level 4 Thriving award – progressing from Advancing in 2018.

Melissa, who chairs SHIP, said: “I am amazed by what SHIP has achieved and what individuals in the community have achieved. I have made friends, watched friends flourish and achieve new things and seen individuals go from knowing no-one locally to talking to others regularly and getting involved in community activities….We are proud of what SHIP has become and what it means to people on the estate. There is work to do and people to reach but I believe that Sandy Hill is somewhere to take your time and slowly things will flourish and we are seeing that.”

Coming up soon are more activities, including a Remembrance concert at St Mark’s Church with the Rushmoor Concert Band. Proceeds will be split between Rushmoor Concert Band and SHIP. Tickets are £5 (children free) and there will be a raffle and refreshments. Tickets on the door or by emailing halecommunitycentre@gmail.com

To finish as we started with the words of a resident: “If only they knew how much they helped me. I just can’t find the right words”.

 

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 when, on Friday, October 11,  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, leaving behind more than 220kg of food. 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.

Farnham Festival of Remembrance

Each November we remember those who have suffered and died in armed conflicts around the world, and this year we mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, a turning point in World War Two, but one which, as in any war, cost many lives.

This year St John’s Church takes centre stage in Farnham’s Remembrance commemorations, when on the evening of Saturday, November 9, from 7.30pm, it becomes the venue for the Farnham Festival of Remembrance, a military and musical spectacular which will pay tribute to the service men and women of the country’s armed forces.

In the presence of the Mayor and with the guidance of the Royal British Legion, the evening will feature a wide range of musical talent, including Farnham Brass Band and the musicians of the TS Swiftsure Sea Cadets Band.

All three of the armed forces will be represented by the Princess of Wales Army Reserve Regiment, Sea Cadets, Army Cadets and Air Cadets, along with the civilian services including the British Red Cross, St John Ambulance, Scouts and Girl Guides as well as some of the local schools.

There will be a parade, a concert and a short service in honour of those who have been injured or lost their lives in the defence of the freedom and liberty of the nation.

Please join us for this spectacular event. Entry is free and donations will be shared between local causes including the parish and the Royal British Legion.

For more information email admin@badshotleaandhale.org

 

poster for remembrance

Picture by Tony Liao on Unsplash

 

 

Collection for refugees

The next collection of clothes, toiletries and other items by the local group Farnham Help for Refugees will take place at St Thomas-on-The Bourne church on Friday, October 4, from 3-7pm.

With winter approaching. the plight of those forced to leave their homes and find refuge in other countries becomes even more serious than it has been. Many arrive in foreign lands with few clothes and possessions and must rely on other people for basics which most of us take for granted – shelter, food, clothes, medicine, toiletries and so on.

Farnham Help for Refugees was set up by a small group of people in response to the dire needs of refugees, both those arriving to this country and those elsewhere in Europe and in the Middle East, and holds regular collections. They work with agencies supporting refugees directly so that they can ensure that they are asking for exactly what is needed.

Here is a list of what is needed at the moment:

Clothing
Warm coats for men, women and children
Adult jumpers, fleeces and hoodies (s,m,l)
Adult jeans, joggers, leggings (s,m,l)
Adult t-shirts (s,m,l)
Children’s winter clothes
Adult and children’s underwear (new only)
Thermal socks (new only)
Hats, scarves and gloves
Bras (new or as new)
Maternity wear

(Please note, all items should be new or as-new and clean please. No dirty or damaged items. No XL or XXL items. No shoes, trainers or boots. No duvets).

Other items
Sleeping bags

Baby items (all items must be unopened)
Nappies (disposable only)
Wipes and nappy cream
Vaseline and Sudocrem

Toiletries (all items must be unopened)
Shampoo
Razors (disposable only)
Toothbrushes and toothpaste
Soap and body wash
Roll-on deodorant
Wet wipes
Incontinence pants/pads
Sanitary towels (not tampons)
Washing powder and cleaning products

As it costs £6 per box to send the items, Farnham Help for Refugees welcomes cash donations on the day to help with shipping costs.

Please do not donate items not on the list as they will have to be recycled locally and cannot be sent to refugees.

Contact Farnham Help for Refugees by emailing farnhamhelpforrefugees@gmail.com  or via facebook: @farnhamhelpforrefugees

Picture by jeyeonwon from Pixabay

Apple Day is back

Come and celebrate the fruits of our community orchard  at St Mark’s Church from 11am this Sunday (September 29) at St Mark’s.

Bring some apples to be juiced in our juicer. Make sure they are in good condition, washed and picked from the tree, and bring clean two-litre plastic milk cartons including the lid to put the juice in.

We will start with a Harvest service at 11am and then move into juicing, apple tasting and apple-y music (and possibly dance). If that isn’t enough apply-ness, there will be pancakes with apple filling to eat. We are also are asking for donations of food for the Foodbank which is run from St Mark’s on Wednesday mornings from 11am-1pm. Click here for a list of what is needed.

A Harvest Worship for All

Come, you thankful people come, and celebrate Harvest Festival at Worship for All at St George’s this Sunday (September 29) at 11.30am. And if you can, come early and help prepare the Harvest sheaf.

Worship for All will be celebrating the fruits of the season at a special service and everyone is invited. Please also bring non-perishable food items to donate to Farnham Foodbank. For a list of what is needed, click here.

All welcome!

 

harvest worship for all 19

Harvest Festival in the parish

It’s Harvest Festival time, the season when we celebrate the gathering of food from the land and give thanks for what the earth has produced and the hard work of those who have produced it.

Harvest Festival takes place on the Sunday nearest to Harvest Moon (the full moon closest to the autumn equinox), which this year was Sunday, September 22. However, the actual date for celebration is flexible and in  the parish we are marking Harvest Festival this coming Sunday, September 29, which also marks the last Sunday in the church season of Creationtide, and then holding the Parish Harvest Supper on Saturday, October 12.

There are Harvest services in all three churches – 9.30am at St John’s and 10am at St George’s, with Apple Day taking place at St Mark’s from 11am, and a special Worship for All service to celebrate Harvest at St George’s at 11.30am. Whichever service you attend, please bring with you items for the Foodbank, particularly the following:

  • instant mash
  • biscuits
  • instant custard
  • tinned meat
  • instant tea
  • tinned peas
  • tinned carrots
  • long-life fruit juice

Division and peacemaking

A sermon preached at St Mark’s on August 18 on the text Luke 12: 49-56.

The text from the Gospel today is a tough one. It is about Jesus saying he came to bring division to the world. (You can read it here). I gather that far more learned people than I am have decided today to preach on one of the other readings in the lectionary but at St Mark’s we don’t read these, so I have to deal with the Gospel.

Mind you, the other readings (Isaiah 5: 1-7; Hebrews 11: 29-12: 2) aren’t that easy, because they talk of some of the less pleasant things God is portrayed as doing – eg drowning the Egyptians – and this is something that we have to deal with.

And here in this passage, what is going on? Is Jesus talking about his death, about the end times, about strife within the community? Fire is something that is used in the Bible to purify and is painful and associated with a vengeful God.

And what about saying that he had come to bring division? I thought he was the Prince of Peace. After all he said ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’.

Or was he talking about what inevitably happened because of the radical, anti-establishment nature of the Gospel? Jesus was a divisive character then and continues to be. Those following him at the time would have been seen as radicals and no doubt this divided families, as it still does in some places. And a gospel which said that the outcast was worthy, that the poor should inherit the earth – was this upturning of values the fire he was talking about? It was obviously going to divide people.

And if Jesus inevitably divides people, what are we meant to do about it? Do we just say, oh, that is OK, Jesus said there would be division so I am right to be divided against my friend, neighbour etc? That seems like a lazy, literal interpretation of the text.

I’ve been reading various interpretations of the text and they have been useful but also exposed something at the root of why we have the problem of division –  ie there are lots of interpretations and I, like most of us, have leaned generally towards the ones I agree with and have discounted the others. That interpretation suits me, that one doesn’t so I will go with the first and not the second. Or I can’t fit that one into my narrative so I will ignore it. It doesn’t fit with the conclusions I have already reached.

The issue of my liking some interpretations and not others, the issue of not even considering some interpretations, is fundamental to the issue of division which he talks about and is horribly resonant with society today. I don’t know when there was last such a divided country. The same goes for America. And as I look at people who support opposite views to mine I find myself thinking – how could you? How can you be so: ignorant, selfish, blind etc etc? And they no doubt look at me and say much the same. That sort of attitude and division is not going to bring healing to the world.

Think for a moment about something you are convinced you are right about. What do you feel about the people who disagree with you?

The same goes for church. This was really underlined recently for me when I went to the first Surrey Pride and spent some of my time arguing against a group of men and women from an organisation whose main aim appears to be to challenge LGBTI+ people, and persuade them to turn away from their sexual identities. I believe passionately in a God who accepts people just as they are. This group were made to leave the Pride event – one of the ambulance staff there said that one young person had had a panic attack after they had spoken to this group – but stood outside to talk to people there with the police keeping a watchful eye. The police were fantastic and stood close while I spoke, ready to intervene if they were concerned for anyone’s safety.

Neither the group nor I was going to persuade or even listen to the other. We both knew we were right. But where did that leave us? Probably both sides feeling self-righteous and cross.

So what do we do about these divisions?

My personal response to division has usually been to try to pour oil on troubled water, try to keep everyone happy. Division is bad, right? OK I didn’t try that at Pride but that was unusual. Usually I have tried to be a peacekeeper.

But maybe peacekeeping isn’t the way forward. If we just try to keep the peace then we are less likely to deal with the issues that are causing the division in the first place. We will ignore those issues and they will fester and cause greater issues and greater divisions. Maybe that is one of the things we have been doing in this country which has led to such division now. If one lot of people have felt left behind and another happy with the status quo, maybe that was inevitably going to lead to the divisions we have over Brexit, or inevitably going to lead to Donald Trump.

I think there has been another factor which has been at play here too, encouraging the rise of the right wing, something which has exacerbated the divisions. As a more liberal society has emerged there has been a push back by those whose position and power is threatened – chiefly the mainly white patriarchy.

So we have divisions and if peacekeeping isn’t the way to solve them, what is? Maybe looking at what causes division would help us grow and change for the better. Maybe this is one of the things Jesus meant when he talked about division and about reading the signs. He was saying that there will be division because his way is challenging to the status quo, challenging to the powerful, challenging to the haves, and it is right that it is challenging and divisive, because if it isn’t society will never grow and change and follow his way.

So maybe we shouldn’t be peacekeepers but something more proactive – peacemakers. Jesus said ‘blessed are the peacemakers’ not blessed are the peacekeepers. Peacemakers are those who look at both sides, see both sides as having rights and responsibilities, offer both sides a way forward. Peacemakers at their best are those who try to look at the world through the eyes of both sides.

But, says the follower of Jesus, my side is obviously right. I am obviously right. My understanding of what Jesus wants is obviously right.

How do we know our interpretation is right? Maybe a little humility would be good here, and maybe a little bit of trying to listen, to each other and to God. I have become more and more convinced that prayer is a way forward (even though I am not good at practising what I preach!). If we pray, try to listen to God as well as each other, then maybe we will change within. Maybe that is the fire that Jesus meant – a fire within us which changes us.

Stella Wiseman

Picture by Sunyu.