29 March 2020
Practical Christian in the community.
The other day I was invited to a half hour prayer meeting in Clover Park, on behalf of St Johns and St Philips and also in my role as a Board member of Presbyterian Support Northern. The meeting was a response to the events which have occurred in the area. Nine local church leaders turned up. The interesting feature was that this disparate group all shared one common feature, they were actively engaged on the ground in Manukau City.
We, as a congregation support Presbyterian Support FamilyWorks through our giving and our practical gifts of food and items which they indicate they need. Recently, when dropping off the food parcels to the Manurewa branch of Family works [used to be called James Family] one of the social workers told me about a young girl, expecting the birth of a child, who had no one to support her and absolutely nothing for the child. From St Johns' response to the request, I was able to take to them a complete, mainly new and little used, complete wardrobe of clothes for a newborn to three months old, with a bassinet, bath and other necessary items for a baby. The social worker's delight and almost tears of joy, on being able to give such a practical and beautiful gift were moving and I wished the givers could see the way their gifts were received. Family works also has SWIS [social workers in schools] workers in a number of local schools from Clendon to Papatoetoe. Funding comes for the government, but this is minimal and our donations to Presbyterian Support are necessary for much of the preventative and intervention work they are doing. One of my main objectives when I became a Board member, seven years ago, was to help bring about a closer relationship between Presbyterian Support and the Presbyterian church. Social action and community initiatives by churches can easily gain a life of their own and they can forget the source of their reason for being and become just a government social agency. The Board are very definite that Presbyterian Support is a Christian body, carrying out the work they do following Jesus' example. They are our social agency and we need to realise that many people, when they see PSN at work, assume that this is the Presbyterian church in action.
The gift I took the other day and the food parcels we send are doing more than just helping Family works meet the needs of children and families. A group of people who work for Support are gradually realising that they have a connection to a specitic congregation in Papatoetoe who care about their work.
There is of course also the service to enable elderly people to have the choice of staying in their own homes if they wish - Enliven -and it is consolidating after PSN ran pilot programmes for the Government and District Health Boards. A new service for those younger people with disabilities is underway and developing also.
Along with the work in our community centre, which is gearing up for courses as the year begins, we continue to be a church where not only do the members reach out in their own work and spheres of influence to be the "salt of the earth" but also one where as a community we show we care about others in our local area.
I had travelled to attend the Clover Park meeting from the pools at Parakai where Angela had ably organised a fun afternoon for our lively and energetic young people and their families, and I reflected that how great it would be if the children who are at present growing up in our area with no sense of beauty, no feeling for what is good or bad, and no knowledge of God's love in Christ knowledge and parents who struggle, who have lost faith and given up hope, often turning to methods which dull out the world and other people, could experience the love and care which is so deeply present in our church.
Let us not take for granted or undervalue what God gives us as a community and let us remember that we are called to share that goodness and joy with others.
let us go into our work and into our relationships
Stimulated by hope, strengthened by faith, directed by love, to play our part in the liberation of all people in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen
[a prayer from the United Congregational church of South Africa]
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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