This year's Pet Service will take place at the normal Family Worship time of 10:45am on Sunday 25th June. This is an opportunity to celebrate God's creation as well as having your pet(s) blessed. If the pet can get through the door, it will be made very welcome. Just to make this service even more interesting, many parts of it will be led by the Junior Confirmation group as part of their preparations and learning for their confirmation on 2nd July.
The Junior Confirmation Group offers young people in year 6 or over the opportunity to explore their faith and decide whether or not they wish to be confirmed. There will be plenty of food and fun – not to mention Bramble, the new Vicarage puppy.
The Junior Group will meet mainly on Thursday evenings with some Sundays. There will be a meeting for candidates and parents on Thursday 9th March at 6.30 pm in the Vicarage.
There will also be a short course for adults thinking about Confirmation. Please contact Revd Fiona to find out more.
Chocolate will play a major role in this year’s Crib Service (6:00pm on Christmas Eve), as we will hear the Christmas story with the help of lots of chocolate. The children at Brabin’s School have already been given an insight into what will come, but while they saw pictures, real chocolate bars will be on offer during the service.
This is not a service to miss if you love this confection, or even if you just want to hear the traditional Christmas story and sing carols. We look forward to welcoming you.
After arriving at Lee House in Thornley, on the edge of Chipping parish, we were ushered into the chapel for introductions and to discover the plan for the afternoon.
Joe Howson introduced the Favela Experience, by telling us that we were now in a subsistence farming community in North East Brazil, suffering from a drought and lack of food. Today, like 1.2 billion people worldwide, we would be living on less than $1 per day.
Our community had heard that there are jobs in Rio de Janeiro, so several families decided to set off for the big city, several thousand miles away. Before we began this life changing journey, we all joined hands, while Joe sang “The Lord is my shepherd” in Portuguese, and prayed for God’s blessing on the journey.
Once we arrived in Rio, we found that things were not as easy as we had hoped. We found space on the edge of a “favela” or slum. Some of the people already living there made us welcome. They pointed out some poles and bits of plastic that had been left by some builders, and we used these to build simple shelters.
Fortunately Bishop Philip, the Bishop of Burnley was on hand to offer advice and support. [Bishop Philip was present as part of Crossroads, a diocesan mission and evangelism project that is underway at the moment].
Meanwhile, the younger family members were invited to join some of the families already living in the favela. They helped make herbal medicine by pounding garlic and brewing nettle tea. They weren’t too sure about the nettle tea, but they did enjoy the pancakes.
Back at the shacks, we found some containers to collect water from a local well. Pulling water was fairly easy, although carrying it on our heads was more of a challenge, but the water was not safe to drink. In order to avoid illness, we made water filters from old plastic bottles, sand, gravel and charcoal. We could find sand and gravel, but we had to buy the charcoal from the local shop. We had hardly any money and the shopkeeper was not willing to offer a discount, despite our poverty. Fortunately he needed some string, and we were able to find enough to barter with him. This make up the difference, and we were able to build filters and – very slowly – purified our water.
Just when we thought that all was well, a government official arrived and called a public meeting. We were informed that the land had been sold for development linked to the Olympic Games and we would have to move again. The army began to pull our shelters down, even though we struggled to prevent them.
A local representative of Christian Aid arrived at this point, and informed us that since some of us had been living here for three years, we had a legal right, under Brazilian law, to remain on this land. She insisted that this went to court, and so that was where we were headed next.
Arguments went back and forth in the courtroom, with the state pointing out that there was a legal document signed just over year ago showing that the land now belonged to a construction company. The inhabitants of the site had no such official document, and so had no right to remain on the land. The opposing argument stated that the inhabitants had been there for three years, long before the document of ownership was drawn up, and as such they retained the right to the land. Fortunately the judge agreed with this point of law, and we were all allowed to remain on the land.
VinB (Volunteer in Brazil) was conceived by its founder, Joe Howson, whilst he served as a volunteer in North East Brazil in the early 1980’s.
The charity exists to help individuals and communities in Brazil and Europe to create bonds of solidarity. Its primary focus is to support educational and small scale development projects in the urban communities of Rio de Janeiro and isolated rural communities in the region of Cristino Castro, North East Brazil. VinB also provide opportunities for individuals to volunteer in communities in Brazil and the UK, facilitate exposure visits and deliver experiential learning activities that raise awareness of poverty, injustice and the need for global solidarity.
When Fiona was licensed as Vicar at St Bart’s in October 2015, the young people who welcomed her asked her (very publicly) if she would have a pet service. Fiona agreed at the time, and then had to keep her promise. Rather than do this all on her own, she enlisted the help of the Confirmation Group that have been attending classes at the vicarage for several months. They planned, organised and then led the Pet Service, which took place in the normal Family Worship on Sunday 26th June 2016. A full house of parishioners, children, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and even a tortoise was present, to praise God for his creation and see every pet blessed by name.
The young people will be confirmed by Bishop Geoff on Thursday 7th July at 7:00pm.
St Bart's Messy Church met on Friday 29th January. The theme was Candlemas, which takes place on the 2nd of February each year, and celebrates Jesus's presentation in the Temple in Jerusalem. We built a large model of Jerusalem and the temple populated with egg people - do pop into St Bart's and admire the finished result. We also made wonderful candle cakes; they've all been eaten but we did take a photo of some. In our worship we saw a video of Jesus being taken to the Temple as a little baby. Two old people, Simeon and Anna recognised that Jesus was the special one they had been waiting for. Simeon said Jesus was a light for all people in the world and we use candles as a symbol of the light of Christ, so this celebration is called Candlemas.
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