Message from Bishop Rachel, 16 May 2023

Published: Tuesday May 16, 2023

Bishop RachelIt is nearly a year since bishops from all over the world gathered for the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury. Among the highlights for me were our small groups in which we met a couple of times each day; and a day at Lambeth Palace on one of the hottest days of the year, focusing on climate change and hearing stark stories of the devastating impact on the lives of people and places across our world. One of the many contributors to that day was Christian Aid.

This Christian Aid Week (14–20 May), the focus on Malawi is poignant for me. One of the members of my small group was Bishop Alinafe Kalemba from Malawi, and in March he contacted our group to ask for prayer because of the effects of Cyclone Freddy. Many people had died and houses and property had been destroyed, with crops and livestock washed away. It was a powerful reminder of that day at Lambeth and our conversations about the climate crisis.

I am glad that a spotlight is being shone on Malawi in Christian Aid Week, and I hope that many people of all ages will be inspired to participate in the Big Pea Challenge, whether in elaborate or small ways. For me, this connects with some of my reflections from this past weekend when I had the privilege of being at the Royal Horticultural Society Malvern Spring Festival, participating in my first event as the 2023 president of the Three Counties Show.

Across the giving of awards and visiting the different areas of the site there was a strong emphasis on the themes of growing, sustainability, and community – big words which resonate with what it means for us to be Church. One of the highlights was visiting the schools’ gardens and I was delighted that Wye Forest Federation (St Briavels and Redbrook C of E schools) were given the award for the ‘Best School Garden’. When I was speaking with the children who were present on Friday, they were excited to finally see the completed garden. They had not seen it before then as their role earlier in the week had been to gather the soil and prepare the ground. Other children had then completed the display. We talked about teamwork and how if we all play our part, even when we cannot immediately see what difference it has made, we will be working together to make the world a better place for people and all creation.

All this seems pertinent as we approach Christian Aid Week, when it would be easy to think that we are powerless to effect change in the lives of those in Malawi, and yet the truth is that our small actions, financial giving and prayer can be transformative, as other people too play their part.

I look forward to hearing the stories of people’s response to the Big Pea Challenge.

This comes as ever with my thanks and prayers.

+ Rachel

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