Seven days, so many ways to make a difference

Edinburgh’s fundraisers are on day two of their major annual campaign to support vulnerable communities around the world.

Craigsbank and East Craigs held a coffee morning as part of Christian Aid Week 2024. The baking was outstanding and our thanks go to the organisers and all who attended. A full report on money raised will follow.

Money raised during Christian Aid Week will help the organisation’s partners empower vulnerable communities to find practical and sustainable ways out of poverty.

This year’s appeal – from 12-18 May – is focussing on work in Burundi, one of the most densely populated and poorest countries in Africa. Heavily reliant on agriculture, it’s also one of the least prepared to combat the effects of climate change, including droughts, floods and landslides. The global cost of living crisis has intensified the challenges: more than 70 per cent of the population live in poverty and more than half of children are chronically malnourished.

Christian Aid has been working in Burundi since 1995 when it first offered humanitarian assistance to people surviving the civil conflict. Now, alongside local partners, the organisation helps establish Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs). These community-led groups mean people can save and borrow money, making small businesses possible, offering reliable and diverse incomes so families can eat regularly, get medicine when they need it, and build safer homes.

Thirty-five-year-old Aline Nibogora is the chairperson of a VSLA which supports some 25 families in a remote village, in Makamba Province. Aline escaped an abusive marriage only to find herself on the streets begging for a place to stay.

Her life changed when she went to a three-day, Christian Aid-funded community workshop. With a small start-up loan, Aline began trading avocados and peanuts locally. She’s now a grocery wholesaler and living on her own plot of land where she’s building a home for her family. In the next five years she hopes to expand, so one day she can buy a mill. This will provide a source of income without the need to transport heavy goods over long distances.

Christian Aid Week offers seven days and so many ways to make a difference – to find out more, visit https://www.christianaid.org.uk/.

Remember, Christian Aid envelopes will be available at the door before and after the service on Sunday. but click here for a new and easier way to donate to Christian Aid

Giving generously during Christian Aid Week

Today marks the start of Christian Aid Week and we encourage everyone to consider whether they can support the work of this remarkable organisation.

What your donation will do:

  • £5 could buy a savings book for a member of a VSLA, setting them up to start their own small business and become finically independent.
  • £30 would help a family buy two Jerrycans to collect water from the river to carry back to their farm. Jerrycans provide irrigation to crops, especially during the dry season, maintaining food production for the family.
  • £50 would mean a vulnerable family can purchase a water storage tank. Water can then be stored for a few days rather than travelling to the communal water point, allowing instant access to water for washing, cleaning and cooking.
  • £100 could help a woman set up her own small business with a starter kit; including money to purchase her first few items to sell. This means she could supply local grocery shops or restaurants with vegetables, set up a roadside shop, or buy maize to sell in bigger markets like Bujumbura.
  • £100 could also help buy a family a bicycle meaning easier transport to school, quicker access to medical treatment in emergencies or support carrying produce from farm to market.

There are envelopes at the doors at church services but do remember that we have made it even easier this year. You can now give safely and securely online. Click here for a new and easier way to donate to Christian Aid

Today and tomorrow in Edinburgh, you can attend the Christian Aid Book Sale at Bruntsfield. The George Street sale is not happening this year (it will be back in October in New Town Church, (formerly St Andrew’s and St George’s) but the Christian Aid Book Sale at Holy Corner at Bruntsfield is definitely on. This sale has taken place every year for 30 years. They welcome support from across the city and beyond.

The Speed of Change at West Craigs

Have you been along the Turnhouse Road or Craigs Road recently? If you have, you will have seen the sudden burst of energy as home builders race to complete the new houses and flats that lie to either side of Turnhouse Road and along the western reaches of Craigs Road. The West Town – 205 acres for 7000 houses – lies to the East of the airport, on the site visible along the Glasgow Road. The Turnhouse area takes the total to 10,950 new homes. Then add the newly announced Maybury Quarter and you reach a total of 11,950 homes, families (so far).

West Craigs was once only called home by those who lived in the houses built in the late 1950s behind what is now the Casino at the Maybury, in West Craigs Avenue and West Craigs Crescent. There was a short stretch of housing on the main Turnhouse Road, a farmhouse part way along and cottages, and then Lennie Cottages beside Turnhouse Golf Course and the farm on the farside of that. Those of us with longer memories will recall the RAF base and housing towards the old airport and the oldest housing of all at the very end of the runway. And of course the commercial units at the quarry and around the end of the runway.

Now? Well, if you haven’t done so already, i would highly recommend an early evening walk along Turnhouse Road. Don’t go on a weekday before 4pm as the roads are just teeming with heavy trucks and builders’ vans.

The western expansion is vast. In this area alone new housing is transforming mixed use land that has lain in some neglect for a number of years. Those who move in, do so with the expectation of a 20 minute town. No more than 20 minutes by foot to transport hubs (tram and train – with bus still to be announced), education and GP level healthcare. The first of three new primary schools in the full area is due to open in August. No plans as yet appear to be in place for cafes, cinema, library, arts centre, shops, community buildings… church.

The building is not one style throughout. There is variety, there are parks, there are green spaces. Take a look at how it is shaping up. That variety makes it a lot more interesting than many of the new build areas around Edinburgh at present.

And if you do take a walk through the area, be sure to say hello to any new neighbours you might meet. A month ago there were hardly any. Today there are really quite a few homes complete and cars parked in the drives (ironically, for an area promoted as an ‘active town’).

Planet vs Plastics, Earth Day 2024

Planet Vs Plastics

Dear Lord, Forgive us for contaminating this world. Help us to find our way forward to respect, protect and live together as one on this planet. This image is from our own home city. We are shamed.

This Earth Day find your way to protect and renew our environment and global health. Consider signing the Global Plastics Treaty now. This link will take you there.

Working together, the world can:

  • Support a highly ambitious Global Plastic Treaty that binds all to the same standards;
  • Achieve 60% of reduction of all fossil fuel-based plastic production by 2040;
  • Require producers and retailers of plastics to be liable for the cost of any environmental or health-related damages in accordance with the “producer pays” principle;
  • Encourage public and private sector investments in innovation to replace all fossil fuel-based plastics;
  • Ban all plastic-related tobacco products including, but not limited to tobacco filters and e-cigarettes;
  • Ban the export of plastic waste;
  • End the incineration of plastic waste;
  • Support innovative solutions and alternatives to plastic in all sectors;
  • Fully-financed education and public awareness campaigns to inform the public about reasons and strategies for ending plastic pollution.

For our planet, this Earth Day – 22 April 2024

Photographs for creative contemplation on Earth Day

Dear Mother Earth, gift of God, we thank you,
for you are our life, our breath and our blood.
You bear us in your arms and receive us at our death,
and will never refuse us.
The rolling sea in our heart, the mountains in our bones,
the wind in our lungs, the flowing rivers in our blood,
the many-splendored creatures living within us
all sing praise to God and remind us we are of you.

Dear Mother Earth, we confess:
though the forest and desert are our own flesh
we have wounded you,
we have treated you selfishly, as “the least of these.”
We have betrayed our oneness
with the grasses and the hawk, the beetle and the whale.
Even as we use you, we repent;
even as we torture you you forgive us.

Dear Mother of Life,
as you renew the earth in spring, restore our mercy;
return us to our place in the great circle of life;
give us the generosity of your fields,
the humility and wisdom of your small creatures.

Dear Mother God, hear our praise and our confession,
and renew in us the beauty of the earth,
for the sake of all life. Amen.

From a prayer by Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light

A Pioneering Education

A group of us (Alan, Jan, Alison, Jackie and Gavin) were sent back to school in February for twelve weeks. This was the Pioneering and Church Planting course run by Edinburgh University at New College. So, grand wood-panelled rooms and a wonderful view of the city from the top of the Mound. That was only two Saturdays though. The rest of the time was huddled around a Zoom session with the class of about fifteen, a mix of ministers and other Church of Scotland folk. Students do it online these days.

One of the first things we learnt, which we knew already, was that church attendance has been falling. What we didn’t appreciate was that membership of the Church of Scotland has fallen in every single year since 1957. This course was set up to try to address the problem by making church more relevant to people who don’t attend. There was a bit of theology, a lot of research on why people have turned away from church and what kind of church does attract new faces.

The bottom line is that a church based on a parish system, largely unchanged in three hundred years, doesn’t meet the needs of a society which is driven by technology and where people are typically time-poor. The answer is a form of church which allows people to come together in their own space. Three hymns and a sermon have gone out of fashion. These new churches, called ‘fresh-expressions’ are more informal than traditional and based on relationships more than a strict liturgy. We were shown several examples where the new approach is thriving.

With the western expansion taking place on our doorstep, and not a church anywhere in sight, we have an opportunity to explore fresh-expression in this area, taking the gospel with us. The course has given us a blueprint to work to along with a lot of dos and don’ts. We have seen what is possible elsewhere and have a rough idea of how to set out. This will not be quick. It will be a long-haul with possible dead-ends and changes of tack. There are no certainties, only what emerges as we follow the Spirit and our noses.

Anyone interested in joining the adventure should get in touch with Alan Childs or one of the team.

Gavin Ryalls

Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations


 

The Spring edition of the Bulletin has arrived

If you are already on our mailing list then a copy of the Spring Bulletin (Magazine) will be posted through your letter box at some point over the next few days. If you think your copy may have gone astray, do let Jan know using this link. You can also request additional copies for neighbours or folk who have recently moved in nearby.

If you prefer not to receive a physical copy (or if you can’t wait!) then you can browse or download it here.