St John the Baptist Parish Church

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News from the clergy

Vicar's column - November 2017

2017 marks four key anniversaries for Israel-Palestine:

- 100 years since the Balfour Declaration in 1917

-  70 years since the 1947 UN resolution for the partition plan for Palestine

- 50 years since the 1967 Six-Day War which saw Israel occupy the West Bank

- 10 years since 2007 and the beginnings of the blockade of Gaza

These are not anniversaries to be celebrated, despite Theresa May’s insistence that our nation will mark the centenary of the Balfour declaration this November “with pride”. The Balfour declaration became a legal basis for the establishment of Israel but it was not Britain’s land to give. The document, whilst well intentioned, to create a Jewish State for the most oppressed people on earth, inevitably led to the dispossession of another people. It specifically stated that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil or religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” However, the British and Israeli governments have failed to honour this promise to the indigenous majority of the Holy Land. There has been ethnic cleansing of Christian and Muslim Palestinians from the outset and the program of illegal Jewish settlements continues.

The situation in Gaza is currently more desperate than ever before. Residents live in poverty, rationed on clean drinking water, food and shelter. There are only 3 to 4 hours of mains electricity a day, which has manifold ramifications. Hospitals are starved of fuel, medicine and staff and lives are being lost. We now wait with bated breath to see whether the preliminary reconciliation deal signed by Hamas and Fatah comes into fruition but easing the suffering of Gazans also depends upon Israel ending its siege. In the meantime, the PCC voted to give the profits from our Harvest Supper to the Embrace the Middle East Gaza appeal and we will be looking for opportunities to raise further funds.

It is not possible to turn the clock back 100 years. The appropriate way to commemorate Balfour is for everyone to become visible: there needs to be equal rights for all who call the Holy Land home. There is a problem to solve which Britain played a large part in making.

 Rev Lisa Cornwell

Vicar's column - October 2017

We have celebrated Harvest Festival during Messy Church, Sunday worship and at our Harvest Supper. Harvest is a time to give thanks for the fruits of the earth, but also, to reflect upon our stewardship of creation and it is important that we do not stop caring for creation when the Harvest season is over. The recent spate of hurricanes devastating the Caribbean and American coastal areas, whilst, on one level can be perceived as a natural disaster, on another level leads us to question the extent to which global warming has contributed to their level of severity. We pray that President Trump might be so stirred to do another u-turn on his decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement.

From 1st September to 4th October, Christians around the world have been praying and caring for creation, in the “Season of Creation”. The proposal to celebrate a "Time for Creation" during these five weeks was made by the Third European Ecumenical Assembly in 2007 and this was subsequently endorsed by the World Council of Churches. The beginning and the end date of Season of Creation are linked with the concern for creation in the Eastern and the Western traditions of Christianity, respectively. 1st September was proclaimed as a day of prayer for the environment by the late Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I in 1989. The Orthodox Church year starts that day with a commemoration of how God created the world. On 4th October, Western churches commemorate Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), known to many as the author of the Canticle of the Creatures. As we reflect upon his words, may we be inspired to show the same reverence for creation.

Be praised, my Lord God, in and through all your creatures especially among them, through noble Brother Sun by whom you light the dayin his radiant splendid beauty he reminds us, Lord, of you.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and all the stars.
You have made the sky shine in their lovely light.

In Brother Wind be praised, my Lord, and in the air, in clouds and calm, in all the weather moods that cherish life.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water.
She is most useful, humble, precious, pure.
And Brother Fire, by whom you lighten night;
how fine is he, how happy, powerful, strong

Through our dear Mother Earth be praised, my Lord,
She feeds us, guides us, gives us plants, bright flowers and all her fruits.

Saint Francis of Assisi

 Rev Lisa Cornwell