Pan London Churches Serious Violence Summit

By Rev Ruth Turner

This is what the Lord says:

“A sound was heard in Ramah.

It was painful crying and much sadness.

Rachel cries for her children.

And she cannot be comforted,

because her children are dead!”

Jeremiah 31:15

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Pan London Churches Serious Violence Summit, Southwark Cathedral, 13th November 2018. Photo: Southwark Diocesan Communications

What can my Church do? What can the wider Church do?

Violence rose by 20% in this last year and not just in London. Causes are complex but poverty, mental health, government spending and social exclusion all contribute.

Sophie Linden (Deputy Mayor for Crime and Policing) thanked us as Churches for the work we are doing with the families affected by murder.

Revd Les Isaacs OBE (founder of Street Pastors) commented that one of their key successes is removing weapons from the streets. We as Church are good at social justice, yet 119 people lost their lives this year.

Families affected are saying: “We would like the Church to help us navigate this time”. Many have no idea about procedure (eg they can’t get on with funeral arrangements - murder investigations take time). There is little or no support for the families.

The Church has been around for a long time but we need to work together to tackle the issue of violene and work towards a ceasefire.

Mercia Perin (XLP mentor) brought her perspective as a young person. She thanked us for asking young people to be involved in the solution. We can ask them to come to churches to explain what is going on.

It takes a village to raise a child and the same village can kill a child. If young people do not feel cared for they will burn the village to feel its warmth.

She as a young person said: “Let us be involved and give us self-worth”

Mike McKeaveney (Assistant Director Southwark Board of Education) pointed out that none of the youth involved in killing were in full time education – exclusion from school has a major effect on crime statistics. Apparently Church schools exclude less than other schools. Can the clergy support schools more? Every child is created in the image of God (but no child is perfect). There needs to be a strong message of inclusion, especially among the most vulnerable, and strong moral leadership.

Leroy Logan (retired Met Superintendent) said that children can so easily be drawn/manipulated into crime, especially, but not exclusively, from broken homes. We need to support families and understand faith in action – we need to open our hearts to those we see as unclean. We need a paradigm shift.

Ben Lindsey founder of Power the Fight and NFI Pastor (Workshop) says it’s easy to think of the problems of youth violence as being ‘out there’ but this affects the whole of Britain – their story must become our story. The Church can be part of the answer. It’s not just about rescuing people who are drowning we need to work out the cause of why they are in the water.

Waste not, want not

By Rev Ruth Turner

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Last week I went into a meeting at The Venue, with an empty shopping bag. At 1pm every Wednesday food that would otherwise go to landfill is distributed to anyone who comes.

But there was no food.

Waste Not Want Not was started by Hadas on the Doddington and Rollo Estate. She relies on a volunteer driver to go with her to the New Covent Garden market at 6.30 am to pick up surplus fruit and vegetables. The volunteer was ill and couldn’t go.

I have a car, should I volunteer or not? People were relying on the food being there so I delayed my meeting and went for my car.

End result? I felt encouraged and it was fun!

Waste Not Want Not is the first project in Battersea which collects surplus food from nearby markets and distributes it through local community and youth centres. Find out more here: https://do-it.org/organisations/waste-not-want-not-battersea

Artist’s Gathering

On 20th October nearly 30 artists and creatives gathered at St George’s Church for a morning exploring how arts and creativity can enhance worship, support social justice initiatives and increase community flourishing.

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The morning began with creative worship including: ‘Zumba for Body and Soul’ with Pineapple Dance teacher Kirsty Fuller; a powerful spoken word piece by actor and poet Sarah Amankwah; and praying with acrylic abstract art with community artist Jo Colwill. This was followed by lively Open Space discussions, a tour of local estates and an introduction to the Power Station development by Alex Baker and concluded with a delicious lunch at CoffeeWorks in Circus West. The morning was curated by our Pioneer Minister in the Arts, Rev Betsy Blatchley. Further events are planned - for more information please email Betsy or follow her on twitter @9ElmsArtsRev or like our Facebook Page www.facebook.com/nineelmsartsministry

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A murder. A meeting. A voice

By Rev Ruth Turner

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I was at a meeting for the Doddington/Rollo Estates about the murder of Ian Tomlin. People were angry and frustrated. One woman checks her corridor every school day to make sure she doesn’t take her 4-year-old past a dead body.

The person chairing had a difficult job. One woman behind me spoke and then shouted at him:

‘Don’t shut me down – don’t shut me down’ and I thought of a passage in the Bible.

Blind Bartimaeus’ cry in Mark 10:47 – ‘Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me!’. Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet…

Have you ever been in a situation where you have been ignored, hushed up or talked over? I have and I tend to shut up.

What does Blind Bartimaeus do? but he shouted all the more ‘Son of David, have mercy on me’.

When people try to stop us speaking what do we do? Each one of us has a voice – what are we doing with it?

Agape Banquet

By Vanessa Elston, Mission Support Officer at Diocese of Southwark

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The harvest meal organized by the Nine Elms on the Southbank and hosted at the Rose Community Centre was my first community social gathering since moving onto the Patmore Estate in August and I really appreciated the opportunity to come along, meet people from the area and eat delicious vegetarian food prepared by Be Enriched.

Rev Betsy Blatchley started the evening with an alternative grace, a short reflection for us to express gratitude for all that goes into bringing the food to our plates: from the source of creation; to the farmers and supply chains; right down to those who had cooked the food for us this evening.  Voicing a simple ‘Thank You’ provided an inclusive way of starting the evening together in the spirit of harvest thanksgiving.

Highlights from the evening included being impressed by the young people’s persistence (and willingness to get pretty wet) in the impossible game of apple bobbing, and meeting local residents like Sheila, sharing pictures of the rescue dog she was hoping would fill the gap left by the loss of her last dog.  Our table came together around the harvest festival quiz, where Alastair, from New Covent Garden Market, was able to assist with identifying different varieties of apples and I tried not to give too much away around the questions that the Battersea Fields Team had contributed on harvest festival and the bible. I met people like Harry and Marion, who chair the Savona Residents Association, Glenn who runs the Rose Centre, Kemi Akinola the founder of Be Enriched.  

What I took away, along with the small pot of apple crumble, was a sense of warmth and friendliness, of people who are committed to this area, and of the importance of food and festival at the heart of any community.

The image, and more images of the event, found at nineelmslondon.com/features/highlights-from-this-years-harvest