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- Page 9

  • Count Your Blessings: Days 25 and 26


    Afghanistan, has received a loom from Christian Aid partner RAADA to enable her to make an income from her skill at weaving traditional Afghan rugs. It takes her about 3 months to finish a carpet which she sells for about US$60. The carpets are made from wool from her own animals, and the extra income means she has more money for her family.

    Give thanks for mothers and carers throughout the world who work hard to look after their families.
    Visit christianaid.org.uk/motheringsunday for a thought-provoking Mothering Sunday church service plan, featuring more on Golbibi.


    Golbibi Kohsani, has two children and lives in Afghanistan. A war in Afghanistan has left many people poor, especially women. Christian Aid, through a local organisation called RAADA, has given Golbibi a loom – a machine for making rugs and carpets. Golbibi uses wool from her sheep to make rugs, which she sells to make more money to help look after her family. Write a prayer on another sheet of paper to say thanks for women and carers all over the world who work so hard to care for children.

    Mothers and carers... looking after their families... OK, you know what's coming next - my semantics check.  'Mother' may be definable, even if it is sometimes prefaced by words such as grand, step, foster, birth or adoptive but 'carer'... do we include midwives and community nurses?  nursery nurses and teachers?  baby-sitters and child-minders? siblings? cousins? leaders of clubs and organisations? where does 'family' end and 'community' or 'society' begin?  Or is that, really, the point?

    And care is not 'just' about infants and children... what of care for those who are unwell, or have disabilities, or who are elrderly or dying?  Even those who have died?  home helps and health care assitants? welfare rights advisers and counsellors? hospices and undertakers?  Once yoyu begin to think, the list gets longer and longer...

    Thank you God who can been known as family or community

    And is more than either or both

    For those whose care,

    In the context of family

    And lived within some expression of community

    Has enriched my life

    And which enriches the lives of others

    It is too difficult to define

    Or confine

    Those who have cared

    Do care

    Will care

    For 'me and mine'

    To 'we'

    To blood

    To kin

    To any group

    Or purpose.

    So, thank you God for

    All who care






    Female and male

    Old and young

    Chosen or enforced

    Trained or untrained

    Paid or unpaid

    For agencies and societies

    For structures and guidelines

    For all who have cared

    Do care

    And will care


    My pledge

    Today - one prayer

    Total - £23.85, five prayers, one rant and one e-petition signed

  • On Not Defending Women's Ministries...

    Go here and read.  Very thoughtful and thought provoking; clever and subversive.

  • International Women's Day

    "Just sayin"

    More info here

  • Count Your Blessings: Day 24


    Women own only 1% of the world’s property.

    Give 10p for each woman in your family who owns property, either jointly or by themselves.


    Today is International Women’s Day, when we celebrate all the good things that women bring to our world. But in today’s world, women are more likely than men to be poor and unable to read. We don’t think that’s fair. What do you think?

    I think women are..... because.....

    In 1986 I bought a house, a four year-old, two bedroomed, mid-terraced 'town house' at a price £18999, and I earned £720 cash-back for swift completion.  Two years later, at a time when interest rates soared to the point where I had to use all my limited savings to keep out of debt, I moved to a new town, about 80 miles away, and to a 1960's three bedroomed semi-detached house, with a sale price of £31,500 no offers and with prices rising by around £1000 a week.  In 1999 I sold that house for £41, 000 having, in the intervening years, spent more than the ten thousand difference in upgrading and maintaining it.  The notional profit was what I lived on the next four years, supplemented by gifts from friends, small grants for the BUGB and preaching fees.  There is no way I will ever again own property, but I am confident that I will never be homeless.  So whilst I am part of the 99% of women who do not own property, I have been privileged enough to be part of the 1%.

    Using the same definition of 'family' as before - there are five women in my family of an age where property ownership would be feasible.  Only one owns property, so the cost today is 10p.

    My pledge

    Today - 10p

    Total - £23.85, four prayers, one rant and one e-petition signed

  • Thinking about Church Membership...

    Way back in the day, when I was 17, I became a member of the URC I attended.  Along with half a dozen others aged roughly 15 - 25, I attended a six week 'membership class' in which we talked about the essentials of Christian commitment as well as the responsibilities of Church Membership.  In those days, to be a Church Member was a privilege, not least in granting access to Communion and participation in the discernment process that is the Church Meeting.  Worshipping for a number of years in traditions without that congregational ecclesiology, I came to value it very highly indeed.  I am, a bit of a hard line, dyed in the wool believer in Church Membership and Communal Discernment.

    Two problems with that! 

    Firstly, my experiences over the last three decades mean that sometimes (often?) I lose sight of the relational, covenantal aspects of Membership and end up banging on about the fact that it is Members who carry the responsibilities for making ends meet, keeping the legal matters on track, etc etc.  It ends up as functional and dull.  Sometimes it is both of those.  Especially when you are a minister.  But it's only part of the picture.

    Secondly, the world has changed.  People no longer view membership as a privilege, nor do they want all the hassle of the practical, legal, humdrum elements of it.  Some people baulk at making a faith declaration.  Some people are ideologically opposed on the bases that they see it as hierarchical or divisive.  Some people just think it's irrelevant.

    In the thirty or so years I've been a member of various churches a lot has changed.  As well as opening their Tables, most, though by no means all, Baptist churches I have been a part of have opened their Church Meetings to non-members who are regular attenders.  At one point, it was precisely this possibility that helped me make my decision to join the church which would become my 'sending church'.  It was, though, clear that non-members were observers, and did not speak; there was a sense of privilege withheld unless/until I was willing to covenant to walk with these people.  Since then things have moved on further, often in a Church Meeting it is the non-members who raise interesting ideas or ask challenging questions - something that always leaves me in a bit of a quandary!  I love to hear these thoughts but am uneasy that (and I apologise to any one offended by this) the direction of a church is potentially driven by those who have not covenanted to it, and who don't carry the responsibilities of the, all too often silent, members.

    At the Gathering Place, our Diaconate has been charged to have a good think about membership, and that's no bad thing.  I am open to being shown that there are other models that are more helpful than the current one, I'm even open to being convinced that I am wrong on some aspects, though not on others.

    I would love to hear from any other Baptist or URC/Congregational readers, if you have found new ways of expressing membership that are effective and attractive without losing the core identity of the church as a "covenanted community of Baptised believers". 

    Because the comment thing on here is so rubbish, I suggest you just leave a comment saying 'yes' and I will then email you privately to find out more.

    Here's hoping for some interesting ideas!!