The Bishop of Southwark's Lent Call
A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Christopher
As we leave behind the joyful Christmas and Epiphany season we move through the liturgical year and into Lent. Once again, I am pleased to be able to send to you materials for my Lent Call. This year we have taken the theme from Matthew 19.14 “But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs’”.
As you and your parish prepare for Lent and begin to look forward to Easter I hope that you will want to pray and reflect upon all that God has done for us in sending his son into our world to bring the Good news. As an aid to this we have included in the pack this year for the first time a booklet with an aid to reflection each day. They have been written by our ordinands and I commend them to you as a helpful way of reflecting up on the projects that we are supporting as well as the Eucharistic passages for each day. Please contact our Press and Communications Department at Trinity House if you would like more copies. All of our Lent Call materials can be found on the Diocesan website at southwark.anglican.org/lentcall
I know that many of you will also have groups meeting in your parishes during Lent and I would like to commend to you The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book for 2020 entitled Saying yes to Life by Ruth Valerio. It is published by SPCK. Dr Ruth Valerio is Global Advocacy and Influencing Director at Tearfund. An environmentalist, theologian and social activist, her book will be helpful as we work towards becoming an Eco Diocese and seek to take care of our planet as individuals and as parishes.
The issue of climate change is such an important one for us all and it has been devastating to see how much the effects of global warming have affected our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe. When I visited with the Dean and my Director of Press and Communications last year we heard first had the stories of the way in which the water table has sunk and the problems that this is causing. Now we see on the news the terrible sight of the Victoria Falls, which I have loved to visit, with so little water. This year our Lent Call has two weeks in which we focus on Zimbabwe and their needs. As you pray for them please do also give thanks for their tremendous fortitude in the face of so much difficulty. Pray too for the people of the Holy Land, particularly those in the L’Arche community in Bethlehem and for our Diocesan Ecumenical Pilgrimage during the first full week of Lent. Then we are also supporting the Kaduna Centre in Nigeria and three projects within the Diocese. We have so much to give thanks for that it is good during Lent to recall those whose lives are made more challenging by all that happens round them. Please consider prayerfully how your parish can best become involved in supporting the projects chosen for this year.
I am so pleased that we are able to give to so many different groups as a result of the Lent Call. Thank you for all that you do to make this annual appeal such a success. We have been supporting work here and around the world through the Lent Call for over 20 years now and last year we were able to give grants of over £50,000 to work in Sri Lanka, Kenya, Zimbabwe and here in our own Diocese.
I hope and pray that you will want to display this material and encourage those in your churches to pray and to give as part of their Lenten discipline. This year, following feedback from the parishes, we have printed some extra project sheets so that you can display both sides more easily. Do contact Press and Communications if you would like extras on 020 7939 9400.
It is possible to give to the Lent Call online as well as by cheque, which should be sent to John Jackson at Trinity House. As well as information concerning the projects we are supporting you will find enclosed worship sheets for use in schools or Sunday Schools. Do follow our Twitter feed (@southwarkcofe) and Lent Call blog as we will be adding extra material about the projects each week. I hope and pray that you will find them useful as you encourage those in your care to use Lent well and to give generously to the Bishop’s Lent Call.
With my thanks and prayers for our partnership in the service of the Kingdom,
The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun
In 2020 the Bishop’s Lent Call is supporting projects within Southwark Diocese and in the Holy Land, Nigeria and our Link Dioceses in Zimbabwe.
Projects in Zimbabwe
Initiatives supporting food security, water supplies, training and infrastructure in our Link Dioceses of Central Zimbabwe, Matabeleland, Masvingo and Manicaland.
The L’Arche community in Bethlehem
The Kaduna Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations
Projects in the Diocese of Southwark
The Nicholas Stewart Project
When it was decided that the L’Arche Community in Bethlehem would be one of the projects in the Bishop of Southwark’s Lent Call for 2020 the investigation into Jean Vanier, the Founder of L’Arche, had not been made public. The Bishop of Southwark is distressed to hear of the report’s findings and of the impact on those affected by these events. Yet, the work of L’Arche has proven to be beneficial to so many and it is for this reason that the Lent Call will continue to support the work of L’Arche in Bethlehem and the pilgrims will visit the group there. At this time it is important to support those affected including the members of the L’Arche communities as they seek to continue the important work of providing a community and work for those who might otherwise not feel part of society.