Rector’s Letter – Winter 2017

Dear Friends

We have just finished celebrating Harvest thanksgiving at Donaghadee Parish and it was a joy to host Bishop Justin and his wife Joyce from South Sudan. The Bishop brought the thanks of his diocese for the support that our parish brings to Sudan through our partnership with the Church Missionary society (CMS). Over the last few years we have been supporting the Diocese of Maridi through building homes for clergy, a health care program and even bicycles for clergy! All who have helped these programs have helped the Diocese to support parishes and to reach out into their communities.

Bishop Justin shared with us the devastation of the civil war in South Sudan with many homes burnt to the ground and people made refugees. Our harvest appeal this year of £1773 is a gift from our parish to the work of Maridi diocese through CMS. Thank you for your generosity to South Sudan through CMS. At harvest we also collected food for a local food bank and we donated the food presented by our children on Harvest Sunday to Store House North Down. Poverty exists not just in south Sudan but also in Northern Ireland.

Many individuals and families struggle to make ends meet!

As I was reading their web site I was struck by this comment: Having plenty of food in the cupboards is something we can easily take for granted. But what would happen if your salary stopped? You might last a few weeks, maybe even a few months – but then where would you turn?

Sadly, in our society today and for many people in our community there is no answer. Many people live close to or at the edge of their finances and for many people simply getting by is a struggle.

Unfortunately, when a personal crisis hits – such as redundancy, illness, homelessness, separation – finding the next meal can be difficult. Storehouse North Down has proven to be a real answer for those families and individuals who have no safety net. It is supported by local churches, statutory and voluntary agencies, community groups, businesses and individuals and are committed to fighting food poverty across Bangor, North Down and Ards.

They aim to help by providing emergency food hampers, they can be contacted through their Facebook page and at this emergency contact number 07526 541168. As In Focus goes out to each home in our parish, please don’t hesitate to contact me should you seek help for yourself or someone else or if you wish to support Store House North Down. Donations can be left in a box in the Church Hall and in the Church bell tower.

Finally, Bishop Justin reminded us to be thankful! Out of the poverty of his Diocese – thanksgiving for our gifts and the grace God gives them each day flowed! That old Gospel hymn – ‘Count your many blessings’ – is one I think all of us need to sing – if not every day – then at least once a week!

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your blessings, see what God has done

St. Paul reminds us:

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Ian R Gamble