by Sophie Carnaby-Denyer MTh.
It’s been almost two years since I moved to Ashford from Barrow-in-Furness to become your Parish Mission Enabler. In addition to helping our churches navigate their way through the Mission Action Planning process, I have also been privileged to help out with some fantastic initiatives. Not long after I arrived, Geoff and I were asked to look after Ignite. Then there was the week that Archbishop Justin spent in our deanery, with all the planning and work that went into that. More recently, I have been asked to coordinate the churches’ response to the arrival of more than 180 refugees in the Holiday Inn. And, of course, in the time that I’ve been here I have also met and married Chris!
One of the things I love about my job is the variety that there is in my work – no two days have been the same. This week I have sorted through a dozen binbags of donated clothes, used money given through Acts 435 to help two asylum seeker families, led an Ignite session and, by the time you read this, I will have met with our local MP to raise concerns about the treatment of migrants in this country.
If you haven’t heard about Acts 435 I commend you to look at their website (https://www.acts435.org.uk/). It’s a wonderful way to contribute towards people’s urgent needs through a local advocate (here, that would be Derek Sorrell and myself).
Many of the asylum seekers housed in the Holiday Inn have spent at least six months with no income whatsoever; some have recently been awarded £9 per week (not backdated). As a result, there are still a great many urgent needs yet to be met - I am looking for bicycles and a sewing machine at the moment!
Next Thursday, our Ignite session is our monthly social, where our ‘Off the Rail’ clothing bank will be available. We are rather short of summer clothes and are particularly struggling to find shoes, men’s casual trousers and ladies’ tops.
The good news of Jesus must be proclaimed in word and action. We have the privilege of participating in God’s mission in the world and the opportunity to be the good news in people’s lives. Perhaps this week you could contribute towards meeting someone’s urgent need through Acts 435, or donate some clothes to Ignite?*
Maybe you could petition our MP on an issue of social justice, or take extra care in looking after our environment? Perhaps you could become a volunteer at one of the many initiatives that exist across our parish – I’d be happy to discuss it with you to help you find the right one. And, of course, we can always take the opportunity to speak to someone about our faith in Christ.
I look forward to hearing from you!
*Donations of clothing can be left at any church, or at the Parish Office, and labelled 'for Ignite'.