Christians Aware - Celebrating 30 Years

  • Barbara Butler

Bishop Angaelos with Barbara

Bishop Angaelos with Barbara

August 2019 is an inspirational month for Christians Aware. It was 30 years ago, on 29 August 1989, that we were registered as a charitable company.

In 1989 we made one of our many visits over the years to the Anglican Diocese of Mount Kenya South. The visit was organised by Timothy Ranji, who is the bishop of the diocese, until he retires in December this year, after which we hope to see more of him. In 1989 we planted trees as part of the Kenya Greenbelt Movement, we stayed in family homes and also visited the Rift Valley.

We have just completed our 2019 summer school. The title for the school was 'Dignity, Peace, Well-Being through Sustainable Goals.' It was particularly special that two members of the summer school came from the Diocese of Mount Kenya South. We enjoyed meeting Geoffrey Mungai, Provost of Kiambu, and Paul Mpishi a parish priest. Paul is a member of the Maasai people and his home village is in the beautiful area which lies between Ngong and the Tanzanian border. A visit was made to Paul's home area in 1992, but we didn't know him then. Hopefully another visit will be made soon. Geoffrey and Paul gave a presentation at summer school this year, where they tackled some of the difficulties surrounding poverty and its alleviation in Kenya. The population in Kenya in 2018 was around 51 million. At summer school we learnt that 75% of the people are farmers, 44 million people are poor and 14.2 million people are extremely poor. This is partly due to failed rains in 2016 and 2017 and 2019. The Church is working at health and education.

Another visit made in 1989 was to Barbados and a member of the group wrote, 'We were given a thorough introduction to the life of the Church and to the people of the island. We spent Holy Week and Easter in St. Christopher's parish and we learnt about relief and development work throughout the Caribbean.' Our host in 1989, William Dixon, has been in touch with us this year, and would like another group to visit Barbados in 2020 or 2021.

Summer school 2019 faced participants with many challenges. The achievement of dignity, peace and well-being for all the people of the earth is no easy task, but is being tackled by many countries; and as individuals, members of Churches and Christians Aware we can all play our part. Suggestions of what can be done were made, including more informative leaflets and study guides, which we will be working on.

One contributor to the summer school was Mike Capel, who gave a history of our link with Zambia, which has continued since our first visit in 2001. There have been many visits and the last one was in May this year. Many projects have been tackled including wells, hospital equipment, houses, and perhaps most important of all, toilets. Summer school members discussed toilets, and the need for toilet twinning to give many more people the safe and healthy toilets they currently lack.

In 1989 the summer school title was 'Listening to Refugees.' We had presentations from all over the world. We have continued to listen to refugees and to produce prayers, books and resources, the latest being the refugee leaflet for prayer and action which is available from the office.

Our study groups in 1989 included the Middle East, India, South Africa & Namibia, Eastern European Issues, European Consciousness, Caribbean issues, multi-faith dialogue and women's issues. We have continued these focuses for 30 years along with others. These others include the Climate Crisis and Environmental issues.

There are many challenges as we approach our 31st year and we look forward to tackling them.

Barbara Butler is the Executive Secretary of Christians Aware.

Her latest book is 'Just Food? Food and Farming for a Sustainable Future'.

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