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Four/Five/Six Strings & The Truth

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May 2015

The Red Bucket – A story of how a small church became inspired by Christian Aid

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St Julians Baptist Church in Newport has a long-standing relationship with Christian Aid. For many years members of the church have been supporting campaigns, following the charity’s work across the globe and, of course, getting involved in Christian Aid week.church

When I rejoined my childhood church around 2005 they were still running the traditional door-to-door collections and holding a special offering on Christian Aid Sunday. It was a regular annual event, but I could see that it had become something of a chore and really needed a radical shake-up.

In that first year, acting as the church’s justice, aid & mission representative, I decided that we would not be doing a door-to-door collection, at the time this was a controversial decision, but I could see that it was a lot of work for quite a small return. It had become difficult to coordinate, we are based on quite a large housing estate and manpower was short. Instead I opted to promote a series of events organized by groups within the church. Each group could choose their own event and invite the community along.

red bucketThat year we ran our first Quiz-Aid, something that we have repeated every year since and which has become the highlight of Christian Aid Week. Additionally we had a sponsored walk, a car wash, a concert and the usual coffee mornings and cake sales. The end of the week saw us running a special Sunday Service dedicated to Christian Aid Week. We prayed at the prayer stations, we watched the films, we heard the message and a small red plastic bucket filled up with donation envelopes and the proceeds from our events.

In previous years the Christian Aid week donations sent off had averaged around £200. In that first event-led year the red bucket was filled with £1200. This radical change was working, Christian Aid Week was inspiring people to get involved, share in the stories and find new and exciting fundraising activities.

We have continued this event led programme ever since. Every year the events are different, but we always have a quiz. We’ve had musical events ranging from choral concerts to open mic nights, One of our members grows and sells plants from seeds so all of our gardens are looking gorgeous. We’ve had line dancing, a tea dance, some crazy youth events and there is always cake, oh, so much cake!

Christian Aid Week has retained its momentum, it continues to inspire people in so many ways, and it’s wonderful to see the positive change that Christian Aid brings around the globe. I kept that red bucket and I use it every year, it reminds me how simple ideas can challenge us to reach new heights.

As we approached this year’s run of events I began, as I do every year, to panic a bit, would there be enough things happening this year to raise a good sum of money? Would people still be inspired and enthused? Then, on April 25 2015, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 struck Nepal and we were horrified at the resulting devastation.

Like most churches we operate a distress fund in order to be able to send funds quickly in times of disaster, but people in the church were already gearing up for Christian Aid Week. Would they want to give to Nepal when they were already supporting Ethiopia?

My wife, Jackie, had already decided to organise one of the events this year, it was to be a short sponsored walk along the banks of the local canal at Goytre Wharf. We decided that it was appropriate to dedicate the funds raised from this walk to Christian Aid’s Nepal appeal, rather than to the Christian Aid Week appeal. This approach would mean that people could choose how to direct their giving, a sensible and straightforward idea to address both needs.

P1020058A small group of people put their names down to take part in the walk and sponsor forms went home with them. Something special started to happen. It seemed that this small group of people walking a short distance had moved people somehow and the sponsorship started to roll in. The school where Jackie works soon filled up one of the forms and each of the participants found sponsors in their own homes or workplaces. We had expected to raise maybe £200; in fact we cleared £700, a fantastic result.

Coincidentally, in the week following the walk, the children in Jackie’s school were having a ‘Sporting Heroes’ day. They were allowed to come to school dressed as their sporting hero and could tell the story of their hero’s achievements. Two little girls said they wanted to come dressed as Mrs. Long; she was their sporting hero because she walked for Nepal.

It’s a privilege to be a part of the relief effort in Nepal, but surely this approach would have an effect on the giving for Christian Aid Week’s efforts in Ethiopia? We were asking people to decide where there money should go, would they direct it all to Nepal or Ethiopia or would they split it? I expected that the funds raised for Christian Aid Week itself would be less than in previous years.

Wrong! On Sunday May 17th we held our Christian Aid Service. We prayed at the prayer stations, we watched the films, we heard the message, I preached! (It takes some grace to listen to that!). And once again a small red plastic bucket filled up with donation envelopes and monies raised by the different events.

This year our Christian Aid Week fundraising currently stands at just over £1150, with a little more still to come in. That stands aside from the £700 raised for Nepal. A record-breaking year for St Julians Baptist Church. Well done people. What shall we do next year?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nepal Earthquake and Christian Aid Week

We are raising money for Christian Aid and Nepal. Read the story below, but please support our Just Giving Page if you can.

Nepal-partners-distributing-aid-ABOD_tcm15-83251For many years now I have been involved with the charity Christian Aid.  At the church I attend, St Julians Baptist in Newport, we run a series of event around this time each year to raise funds for Christian Aid Week. We have a lot of fun and generally raise around £1,000 which goes towards Christian Aid’s featured projects in any given year.

This year we are looking forward to taking part as usual. But just last week the world was shocked by the news of the huge earthquake that has hit Nepal. as I write the death toll is over 7,000, with 14,000 injured and millions affected through destruction of their homes and communities.

 

Like most churches we operate a distress fund which we will open in the event of a crisis like this. However because this has happened so close to our fundraising for Christian Aid week we have decided to approach it in a different way. So one of our organised events for Christian Aid Week this year will be specifically for their Nepal Earthquake appeal. The funds raised will be collected separately and sent directly to this appeal rather than to the Christian Aid Week fund. Hopefully this makes it easier for the people of the church to choose where to target their giving.

So…Our sponsored walk on Saturday 16th May will be for the Christian Aid Nepal appeal. If you would like to help us out with a donation I have created a Just Giving Page here where you can give as small (or as large) an amount as you like. We hope to raise a few hundred pounds here.

Beyond that the church will be running a series of events for Christian Aid Week, which will include a quiz, a sale of plants, a sale of car stickers, a collection of poems, coffee mornings, youth projects and all the usual churchy type stuff.

I’ll write a report of how the fundraising goes in a couple of weeks time. Meanwhile you can find out about what Christian Aid are doing in Nepal Here

 

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