Syria: recent events – statement from the URC
The United Reformed Church is pressing the British government to avoid participating in any further military action in Syria and instead to urgently work with international partners to pursue peaceful solutions.
In response to a chemical attack launched by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad on 7 April where scores of innocent people were killed or injured the Revd Kevin Watson, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, said:
“The death, devastation and terror being imposed on the people of Syria is tragic and deplorable. Our prayers for peace and their protection continue. As a faith community, we acknowledge that challenging the use of chemical weapons is right, and those responsible should be held to account. However, we are concerned that more military strikes will lead to more deaths and add to the devastation and displacement that the people of Syria are already experiencing. Jesus calls on his people to be peacemakers. The road to peace is a long and hard one, but ultimately this conflict will only be ended through negotiation.
We will continue to pray for the safety and well-being of the Syrian people, and urge our political leaders to redouble their efforts to bring all parties together to broker a peaceful solution.”
We hold before you the people of Syria.
Comfort those who today mourn or live in fear,
and may those scarred by violence know healing.
We hold before you those with influence in our world.
We pray that they will use their power wisely,
respecting every life and pursuing all that makes for peace.
We hold before you our own needs and our own hearts.
Help us to respond to suffering with compassion, to enemies with love,
and to aggression with a renewed commitment to peacemaking.
We pray in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Although much that we do at Immanuel takes place within our walls, we do try to be outward looking as much as possible and include in our prayers those situations we know of in the community around us, the town and the wider world.
We feel it is important to show practical support when we can, and as well as showing support for Christian Aid, two such ways are in our affiliation to ‘Amnesty International’ and the fact that we are a ‘Fairtrade Church’ (we use fairtrade products whenever we can and there is a stall on many Sunday mornings.)
Another way is our Harvest Appeal: for more than thirty years throughout October, in addition to bringing gifts of produce on Harvest Sunday for later distribution to the homeless of Swindon or the Women’s Refuge, we challenge our members to give to a specific charity – normally it is a charity in the Third/ Developing World, which has been proposed by our World Concerns Committee.
Up-date….. on “Help Madina”
In 2015 we worked to raise funds for a community in Sierra Leone. Our hope was to improve the local sanitation system and also provide a well. Initially constructing the well proved to be problematic when the builders hit solid rock strata and were obliged to bring in heavy machinery in order to break through to the water table below.
The good news is that they have succeeded : as the pictures show. It has taken some time for the photos to come through to us, but I am sure you will all rejoice with the villagers of Madina that good CLEAN water is now readily available and no longer has anyone to make a long trek with containers and bring back water that was at times ‘highly suspect’.
Smiling faces prove that it was £3500 well spent!
2000 Kabarore, Rwanda: nursery school classroom £2538
2002 Joint Appeal for Prospect Foundation (Swindon) and Stepping Forward (Swindon) £2,600
2003 Centre for Rehabilitation for the paralysed in Bangladesh £2,641
2004 Kigali, Rwanda: wells and water catchment system £3,733
2005 Twingi School, Zambia: school construction and lighting £3,049
2006 Kagitumba (a partnership project) 3 classrooms, toilet block and water tank £12,000
2007 Joint Appeal for The Swindon Mediation Centre and Missionvale South Africa (feeding programme) £2,657
2008 Ankavandra (Madagascar) – a village well building project £3,447
2009 Muniguda (India) – a hospital for cataract operations £3,100
2010 Mbale (Uganda): Musiquality – support and tuition for abandoned children £2,945
2011 Phnom Penh; Cambodia: medical centre – first aid facilities £3,469
2012 Casa Materna, Ocotal, Nicaragua: Training programme to raise awareness of sexual abuse £3112
2013 Lebanon and West Bank (Partnership project) Christian Aid supported project to support the disabled £10,354
2014 Christians Against Poverty (Swindon) Harbour Project (Swindon) the latter is a project to support refugees and asylum seekers £3,446
2015 “Help Madina” – a project to build a well and improve sanitation in a village in Sierra Leone £3,970
2016 Bamyan High School, Afghanistan: a project to build and equip a science lab for girls, £3,000
2017 The Swindon Foyer (a partnership project) raised funds to support homeless young people of the town and improve the facilities on offer: £8,700