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.

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.

A look back at a Moving and Uplifting Easter

Easter Sunday 2024 brought communities from the streets of Craigsbank and East Craigs – and much further afield – together for a very special Cafe Church service. Those who gathered did so round tables of friends, family and strangers, and enjoyed baskets filled with hot cross buns, scones, chocolate-crispie easter cakes, coffee and tea, jams and honey. They enjoyed too the company across generations, heartfelt prayer, the sound of young voices from Junior Music Makers AND three baptisms. The children were swept up in daffodil and seed planting and a superb easter egg hunt in the sanctuary. All left uplifted.

‘Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.’

Hebrews 13:2

The Edinburgh Easter Play

On Easter Saturday, the Edinburgh Easter Play took place in Princes Street Gardens to a crowd of some 600, following the street players as they moved around the gardens acting out the life of Jesus. The actors always give everything to this annual event and the sound carries right across the gardens. No matter how familiar from our reading of the bible, some scenes were deeply moving, powerful, upsetting. It is entirely different to see the story played out before you.

The crowd was made up from local Christians, interested by-standers, tourists and those who had never before heard the story of Christ.

At one point, I stood next to a young Scottish woman in her late 20s who knew the name of Jesus, knew he was in the bible but this was her first introduction to the story of his life, death and resurrection. She was deeply moved and very interested to know more.

And then there was the young man who was obviously enjoying his Easter weekend and exclaimed in horror, ‘they are crucifying someone in Edinburgh in broad daylight!’. And indeed they were, under the towers of New College.

Both left with memories they will not forget. As did I.