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Four/Five/Six Strings & The Truth


St Julians Baptist Church

Community Fair in Newport

At our local church, St Julians Baptist, Newport, this morning we held a community fair, an open morning for local residents to come along and explore some of the community services that are available to them. It was really well supported and there were lots of really interesting stalls set up.

Some of the services represented there included, community police officers, local councillors, Newport Care and Repair, a local clinic for patients with macular degeneration, the Family Information Service, Newport Parent Network, Christians Against Poverty, Newport Credit Union, Newport Mediation, The Reading Tree, Age Cymru and the Citizens Advice Bureau.

I had a really good chat with the Age Cymru reps about pensions and was able to express my gratitude to Christians Against Poverty and Newport Credit Union for their help.

We offered refreshments for the visitors and were able to show the plans for our new Jubilee Hall which we will start to build next year.

It was good to see our local MP, Jessica Morden there to support the event too.


Christian Aid Week 2016

Once again this year our home church, St Julians Baptist in Newport, took part in Christian Aid week. I’ve been the Christian Aid Rep for quite a few years now and every year we run a series of events for people in the church and in the local community.

This year we ran some old favourites and tried a couple of new things too. As always we had a team quiz, accompanied by tea and cake (pretty much everything is accompanied by tea and cake). Other events included a plant sale, a sponsored walk across the old Severn Bridge and a Handbell recital at a local garden centre.

My favourite event this year was the Scalextric Rally, four fantastic practice circuits and a digital timed track with prizes for the best times.

Christian Aid Week actually lasts about six weeks for us usually by the time we get all our events in and this year we raised over £1200.

I’ve included a few action shots from the Scalextric. Looking forward to next year

IMG_0985 scalextric - 1 (2) scalextric - 1 scalextric - 1 (1)



Scalextric Challenge for Christian Aid Week

CA-RED-RGBEvery year at our church we host a series of events for Christian Aid Week. We’ve had quizzes, sponsored walks, games, plant sales, cake sales, and loads of other stuff too.

This year we’ve got what is potentially my favourite ever event for Christian Aid Week.

Our HUGE Scalextric Challenge.


On June 11th at the church we are hosting an afternoon of fun and competition with a MASSIVE Scalextric challenge.

We’re going to build a replica of Brands Hatch. There will be a separate practice circuit and the official track will be digitally timed with prizes for the overall winner.


Full details at the official Scalextric Challenge site. Please come along and support it, the more the merrier.


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


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

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?







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


After the Hustings…

Last night’s election hustings for Newport East was a great success. We drew a crowd of around 120 people and the evening saw some lively debate around a variety of topics.

My thanks to Owain Phillips from ITV Wales for hosting the event, it would not have been the same without his help.

The panel consisted of Natasha Asghar (Conservative), Jessica Morden (Labour), Paul Halliday (Lib Dem), David McLean (Green) and a latecomer David Stock (UKIP)

the evening was kicked off with a question about MP’s expenses and from there we discussed alternative voting systems, coalitions and welfare before moving on to a local issue concerning TATA steel workers pensions. After that we discussed help for the self-employed and small businesses and the importance of the family unit.

The final question came from 14 year old local resident Mason, who wanted to ask UKIP why they demonise immigrants. A chorus of mixed cheers and boos ensued, leading to the most animated part of the evening.

Overall it was a great success and I hope that the attendees found the evening useful.

You can read a live report from the South Wales Argus here

Newport East General Election Hustings – Tonight!


Friday 17th April 2015

The last couple of months has seen my spare time taken over by the organisation of a general election hustings for Newport East. Finally the day has arrived! I’m looking forward to tonight’s debate, but I’ll be glad when it’s over too and I can relax.

If you fancy coming along and meeting some of the candidates it’s at:

St Julians Baptist Church, Beaufort Road, Newport

7:30-9:00 followed by light refreshments and informal chat.

There are seven candidates in the constituency of Newport East.  Four of them will be present this evening, these are; Jessica Morden (Labour), Natasha Asghar (Conservative), Paul Halliday (Lib Dem) and David McLean (Green Party.

I am disappointed that we had no response to the invitations sent out to Plaid Cymru, UKIP and SLP, despite the fact that I tried really hard to get them there, however I think we are in for a really interesting evening.  The host for the evening will be Owain Phillips (ITV Wales).

It’s an open question session to the audience and we will try to cover as many pics as possible.

Hope to see you there.



Newport East General Election hustings – Candidate Profiles no. 1

As you may already know I have organised a Hustings for Newport East, at St Julians Baptist Church, Beaufort Road on April 17th (7:30), which will feature several of the candidates in a question time format.

In the run up to the event on Friday I have decided to blog each day, presenting a profile of each of the candidates that will be at the event.  The profiles are taken direct from the candidates own websites and I present them here with no bias or preference, they are simply presented to give you a little more insight into each person.

So here is the first one, in no particular order. Check back tomorrow for another.


Jessica Morden

Labour Candidate for Newport East

Dear Resident,

This election is one of the most important we have had for a generation. The choice on 7th May is between a Tory Government putting a privileged few first or a Labour Government that cares about the people of Newport East.

Over the past 5 years as your MP I have worked hard to help those who have been affected by Tory/Lib Dem Government policies.

If re-elected on 7th May I will continue to campaign on the local issues that you raise with me. I will push for a reduction in the Severn Bridge tolls when they return to public ownership in 2018, better rail services and infrastructure, policies to support local jobs in industries such as steel, and the public sector hit hard by Tory Government cuts.

I pledge to continue to support Newport Council and the Welsh Government’s excellent initiatives which are regenerating our City, and to work with groups from Maindee to Caldicot to make our communities better.

I would be grateful for your support for Labour in this election.

Best wishes,
Jessica Morden
Labour Candidate

Jessica Morden was the Labour MP for Newport East from 2005 up to this General Election, and is standing again. She was elected in the 2005 General Election and was re-elected in the 2010 General Election. She was elected as the first female MP in South East Wales.


Jessica and her partner Sion live in Maindee. They have two children, Mali and Ifan, who both attend local schools.

Brought up in nearby Cwmbran, she was educated at Croesyceiliog School before reading History at Birmingham University. Following University she was also a student at Coleg Gwent Nash Campus. Before becoming a Member of Parliament Jessica worked for two local MP’s (Llew Smith in Blaenau Gwent and Huw Edwards in Monmouth) and served as General Secretary for the Welsh Labour Party.


Shadow Parliamentary Private Secretary to Owen Smith MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales.

Secretary of the Welsh Group of MPs.

Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Wales The Rt Hon Peter Hain MP until May 2010

Member of the Welsh Affairs Committee

Vice-Chair for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Steel and other Metal-Related Industries (July 2005 – 2015)

Chair for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children in Wales (July 2005 – 2015)

In her first term Jessica successfully completed the Police Parliamentary Scheme, spending a month during recess with a range of Departments and frontline Police Officers in Gwent Police.

Appointed by the speaker to the Members’ Advisory Committee to oversee the setting up of the first ever Nursery in the House of Commons.

Member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Suicide Prevention

The hustings is a free event, for more information please contact me:

Andy Long

tel:07801 883420

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