Willen Church Sleepout to Help the Homeless: Saturday 14 September 2019

The church of St Mary Magdalene is hoping others will join them in highlighting the problem of homelessness in our city with the Big Sleepout event which will take place overnight NEXT SATURDAY, 14 September outside Willen Pavilion.

Please email willensleepout19@gmail.com for registration and sponsorship forms. You can read more on Facebook on the bussheltermk page and the Willen Sleepout page on Virgin Money Giving is available for making donations.

Rev Dr Paul Smith, Team Rector of Stantonbury and Willen parish LEP will be taking part himself in support of the MK Bus Shelter, both to help raise awareness, as well as to offer some financial support. He says,

“I would like to invite you to sponsor me. Any amount, however small, will be welcome. It is very easy, as you can go online and pledge your chosen amount. Just go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PaulSmith385.”

If you could download the Willen Church sleepout poster and display it in your church too, that would be really appreciated!

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‘House the Homeless’ Day of Action: 16 March

Three of our churches/partnerships are Member Institutions of Citizens:MK, a diverse alliance of community organisations acting together for a thriving, inclusive and fairer Milton Keynes. On 16 March, Citizens:MK partnered with the YMCA Milton Keynes for a day of action to promote awareness and support for the new strategy of MK Homelessness Partnership and MK Council in addressing homelessness in MK. The aims of the Day were to:

1.Educate MK residents (including children) about homelessness and what city organisations such as MK Council, voluntary organisations and businesses are doing about it;

2.Celebrate the achievement of MK Homelessness Partnership (MKHP) producing its first ‘Strategic Review December 2017’, and MK Council approving a new ‘Rough Sleeping Reduction Strategy’ to reduce the number of people sleeping rough to zero by 2021; and

3.Collaborate in building power to support MK Council and MK Homelessness Partnership in achieving their goals.

First, at lunch time, pupils from three local primary schools enjoyed a facilitated Q&A session with four people who have experienced rough sleeping.

At 7.30pm, guests had an opportunity to quiz those in positions of leadership in addressing homelessness: Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of the Council; Gamiel Yafai, Chair of MK Homelessness Partnership; Simon Green, CEO of YMCA MK; Lawrence Morgan and Suzanna Raymond of the Citizens:MK’s ‘House the Homeless’ campaign. Guests asked questions about the recommendations in the Strategic Review and their personal experiences of developing and delivering them.

At 9.00pm, 55 guests attended a ‘House the Homeless Assembly’ at which Gamiel Yafai received a Citizens:MK Gold Award for MK Homelessness Partnership for developing a strategy with the goal of ending homelessness in MK. Our 3 church Member Institutions (Christ the Cornerstone; St Frideswide’s and Stantonbury & Willen Ecumenical Partnership) sent members to support this community action.

Towards the end of the Assembly, a film was shown of Summerfield School Choir singing a song about homelessness, ‘We Will Fix You’. It was a really moving rendition, and there was much blowing into tissues at the end of it.

After the Assembly, Ian Roberts and band played live music to entertain ‘Sleep Easy’ volunteers as they prepared to bed down in the cold to raise money for the YMCA. Although the temperature didn’t get below freezing until 6.00am, the one-night volunteer ‘rough sleepers’ felt the chill and discomfort of sleeping rough in winter.

Truby’s Garden Tea Room, sponsored by Meals by Malik (a local Muslim Woman caterer) and the owner of a small Muslim led printing company Good Response, provided meals for those sleeping out and refreshments for those attending the Assembly.

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Graffiti

In the past couple of weeks there has been a run of graffiti attacks on churches and monuments in the Milton Keynes area. They seem to have been focussed on the eastern edge of MK, from Newport Pagnell, through Willen, to Wavendon. The police are involved and stories are appearing in the local news.

Local people are understandably upset and feel personally attacked. It can be particularly difficult for people visiting the graves of loved ones. It’s really important, however, to take proper advice before attempting to remove graffiti from stonework. It’s possible to cause more damage.

Please be aware of the possibility of an attack on your church or churchyard. If there is an incident, please report it to the police and to Archdeacon Guy (Archdeacon.Buckingham@oxford.anglican.org).

In the meantime, please pray for those affected and, as Matt Trendall says “for the love of Christ to change the hearts of those who are doing this”.

All the best,
Tim

 

Wavendon

St Mary’s Wavendon has become the latest church affected by the recent spate of graffiti vandalism on Friday 9th March – following attacks in Newport Pagnell, Willen and Broughton, the artist(s) in question sprayed aggressive messages on the outer back wall. All the graffiti has the same tag: ‘NU Gambian Manz’.

Whilst we are sad at this outbreak, and encourage all to be especially vigilant at this time, at a church prayer meeting on Monday night we felt strongly that this is a moment to follow Jesus’ example and ‘pray for those who persecute us’, that we may be children of our Father in heaven. So can we urge our fellow believers in MK not just to pray for justice and protection but also for the love of Christ to change the hearts of those who are doing this? With our love, blessings and grateful thanks.

– Matt Trendall

 

Willen

On Saturday morning 3rd March I was getting ready to clear snow from the steps at Willen Church in readiness for church services on Sunday. A member of the local community who knows me, phoned to say that she’d discovered the church had been defaced with graffiti of an incitement to racial and religious hatred nature and had already alerted the police. Since then we have been subject to two or three more attacks, all of which have been reported to the police, and which have evinced considerable feeling amongst local residents. I gradually learned that we were not alone – a number of other local prominent and public buildings have also been violated in this way. The graffiti is more than simply youngsters doing damage for kicks – it would appear to have some political or vengeful motivation from some quarter that feels impugned.

My feelings, some of which will be reflected in other’s reactions are a mixture of anger and feeling violated; shocked that such an assault has happened in what has previously been a graffiti-free area; wanting to protect the sensitivities of my flock from obscene language on entering a place of worship; vulnerability and helplessness not knowing how to prevent such a thing due to the churchyard being a public thoroughfare; frustration at not being able to remedy the mess immediately; feeling responsible as a guardian of a local piece of heritage; wanting the perpetrators to be apprehended and possibly punished; wondering what the heck some of the words and phrases actually meant (!); trying to work out the mindset of the perpetrators; being practical and dealing with what I could straight away (ie dealing with the police).

I have been able to communicate with the wider local public via social media – mainly something called “Next Door Willen” which I’d already signed up for late last year. I have appealed for restraint, especially as I think the perpetrators were trying to stir up an aggressive reaction against perceived enemies. But also social media has helped keep the local community informed about what was happening “behind the scenes”. The incident(s) have demonstrated how much affection and good will there is in the local community for Willen Church and how incensed they have been over the vituperative defacement of an important part of the local heritage. This is a sentiment that encourages me and reassures me that we may be able to draw on this as needed (eg to make a financial appeal for ongoing maintenance needs). The police were initially very responsive and supportive and I imagine they are working in the background with all of these local incidents.

Finally, dealing with all of this has taken a great deal of time and part of my frustration is that I have had to be diverted from what is more important such as caring for my flocks and providing spiritual leadership. The aftermath of the incident entails much communicating and chasing of support agencies including our insurers, architect and conservation companies. It seems out of proportion to the amount of time it must have taken to perpetrate the crime in the first place!

– Paul Smith

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Preaching Beyond the Walls

The Preaching Course was joined by Ruth Maxey this week for a session looking at how we “preach” to people with little knowledge of Christian faith. It was a thought-provoking evening with stories, examples and challenging ideas.

There are seventeen people on the Preaching Course, and the group includes experienced preachers, people in training and a few people who just want to learn more about the issues involved.

The course lasts over eight sessions and some people are using it as part of authorised preacher training.

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