The Circuit Justice and Peace Group meets regularly to consider topical matters and to arrange special services and events to enable members and friends of the Worthing Circuit to engage with the wider world.
Within the last few months the Group has arranged an Inter-Faith meeting at Offington Park Methodist Church at which a representative from the Brighton and Hove Interfaith Group came to speak about the origins and development of that Group, and the Revd Colin Smith spoke about Jewish and Christian relationships today. The Group also worked with a number of other groups to organise a wonderful concert (again at Offington Park) with four young people from Gaza together with the orchestra from Robert Woodard Community Band.
TRIDENT RENEWAL AND THE METHODIST CHURCH
The Methodist Church, the Baptist Union and the United Reformed Church have stated:
“Our churches urge the British Government to work tirelessly to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction. Replacing Trident would send the wrong message to aspiring nuclear powers. It flies in the face of commitments that the UK has made under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 committed us to nuclear disarmament “at an early date”. It was ratified by Parliament and is part of UK law. But nothing has been done about putting it into practice.
Meanwhile our government has just voted to spend £206 billion (over 30 years) on renewing our Trident nuclear submarines, at a time when we are cutting back on many vital services, such as recruiting more nurses for the NHS or more teachers in our schools. Actually using this vast White Elephant in the Room would result in the end of our world as we know it. A fraction of that amount spent on promoting friendship with potential enemies (such as North Korea) would give us far greater security than nuclear weapon can.
What do you think?
For further information on this and other public issues, please see Praxis, a joint publication by the Baptist Union, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and the Church of Scotland. You can subscribe to their e-newsletter and see the most recent issue here.
Week of Prayer for Peace in Israel and Palestine Service
The following message was received from Bishop Riah and was presented in the service:
“To the dear members of the Circuit:
What a joy to have the opportunity to greet you: as friends? as pilgrims to His Land? as co-workers in the vineyard of Christ? Yes. But even more. I want to greet you as sisters and brothers in the One and Holy Church, whose Head and Shepherd is Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. May His SALAAM, His PEACE be with you and yours now and for always.
Thanks to modern technology? My preference would have been face to face. I want to believe the same with you. Five hours flight is no big deal!! Next time.
Allow me to express my personal thanks to my brother the Rev. Doug Hopwood for his gracious invitation to greet and speak to you. Also to say that I cannot find enough words to thank you all for your unfailing love in Christ, for your friendship, your gracious support over the years, your visits and pilgrimages to us, and for standing with our people in their struggle for justice, for life with dignity, and for freedom and peace. Thank you also for daring to challenge the Church authorities over issues of life and death, war and peace in the Land of the Holy One. And more, for supporting all who believe, in what I also believe, that once peace founded on TRUTH and JUSTICE come to Jerusalem, peace and harmony will come to the whole world.
My dear sisters and brothers: As members of the living BODY of Christ we are called upon to be the LIGHT of the world. Be HIS LIGHT: dispel darkness and myths about others. Help pave the way for greater unity among the believers. And following the example of the Good Samaritan have that courage and humility to bow down and offer healing to the wounded in body and spirit. All this while being totally committed to Him who called us, Jesus Christ, in whose Name I greet you, and pray that you be blessed and be a blessing. Amen, and I say again, Amen.”
He also sent us the following email after the service:
“My dear Doug,
Hope all went well with the Circuit meeting. And please know how much I appreciate your support, and the support of others in your part, for the cause of justice and peace. May God continue to bless you and your dear family,
+ Bishop Riah Abo El Assal”
BREAKING DOWN A WALL IN STORRINGTON
There was queue outside Storrington Methodist Church on the evening of September 23rd, people being let in one or two at a time, after their ID had been checked and they had been issued with blue or green cards to allow them to pass the checkpoint at the wall of cardboard boxes, covered with graffiti which blocked the back of the church. The Methodists of Worthing circuit and friends were simulating the same conditions which Palestinians living in the West Bank have to put up with every day when they go to work on their farms or visit Jerusalem, with their path blocked by the high wall topped with razor wire (which we saw in a series of photographs on the screen in the church) erected by the Israeli Government. Palestinians living in Jerusalem have blue cards which give them slightly more privileges than the other Palestinians, who have green cards – but they all have to queue for hours.
During the course of the evening we listened to the testimony of some of the Palestinians affected by the wall.
Bassam, aged 56, from Beit Jala, said that his journey to work would take about 10 minutes, but due to being made to queue at checkpoints it now takes an hour on good days and sometimes 5 – 6 hours. His mother who is in her 80s would like to visit members of her family in Jerusalem every week, but due to her age cannot tolerate the hours of standing in a queue, so can only visit them twice a year. His 13 year-old son goes to school on the other side of the wall in a group of schoolchildren and was on one occasion picked out at random from the rest of his classmates and made to wait for no reason.
Tamara, aged 37, from Ramallah, has Jerusalem ID so is free to come and go more easily than her friends who live on the West Bank. Her work starts at 8am, but she still has to get up at 5am so that she can get to the checkpoint by 6am, although she lives only 10 minutes away. At the checkpoint she has to go through an X-ray controlled gate, and is sometimes made to walk through it 3 or 4 times. Although each dose of radiation from doing so is small, she worries about the cumulative effect of so many doses of radiation. She finds it easier to go to the West Bank than to her own neighbourhood of Jerusalem.
Bassem, aged 40, lives in the Beit Hanina area of Jerusalem. When the wall was built it divided his neighbourhood into a residential area and an area where there are shops and the mechanic who fixes his car. His friends and relatives live on the other side of the wall. Previously he was able to visit them every week but now he has to go through the checkpoint to do so and cannot enjoy his visit as he is worrying about how long it will take to get home – perhaps 3 hours instead of 10 minutes. When his car needs work on it by a mechanic, it is easier to take it to Nazareth which is 1 ½ hours away. He says that even if the wall is abolished, the other problems will remain.
Childhood dreams of Carlos and Isabella, both aged 10 years, from Jerusalem. They said they would be happy if there were no wall because then the world would be for everyone. Friends could meet each other. They would be very proud of the people who made the wall fall down.
We also listened live (by a video link to his study in Nazareth) to Bishop Riah, who you remember visited our circuit some months ago and met with people on the circuit pilgrimage to Palestine in May this year led by Doug Hopwood. We heard a poem called “Barriers” by Isabel de Gruchy. We listened to the reading from Ephesians 2, v14-22, about Christ breaking down the walls which keep us apart. We sang the hymns “Beauty for brokenness”, “In Christ there is no East or West” and “Make me a channel of your peace”. We broke down the wall which had been erected at the entrance of the church, taking 4 of the “bricks” back to the 4 groups in which we were sitting, so that they would focus our attention during the prayers of intercession.
It was an unforgettable evening!
I leave you with Bishop Riah’s final word to us: PRAY.