In yesterday’s service we learned about Freeset.
Nikki visited Freeset briefly in 2011, in January she will be going back to help a group of possible volunteers and employees on a ‘Freedom Encounter’ do some theological reflection.
Freeset is a project based in Kolkata and supported by BMS. It is a bag and tee-shirt making business set up in 2000 to provide an alternative to the protitution that many women and young girls are forced into through trafficking or poverty. Freeset are trying to develop similar business models in the rural areas in Bengal, around Murshidabad, which is an area from which many girls are trafficked.
It’s great that the church is supporting this work and enabling Nikki to go. Graham Doel, who has recently been employed by BMS in the UK, will also be going. He hopes to learn something about the way business can be used in mission work which he can pass on to churches here.
If you want to learn more about Freeset visit their website – freesetglobal.com.
Monday November 25th 2 – 3.30 pm
Saturday 7th December 10am – midday
Friday 13th December 2 – 3.30pm
Saturday 21st December 10am – midday
Friday 27th December 2 – 3.30pm
Saturday 4th January 10am – midday
Jewish Festivals is the topic for the year 2s at the moment, so the story of The Exodus fitted in very well. I had a lovely time back in a primary school classroom with a great class who were full of ‘wondering’. They listened really well and were all keen to take their own character in the sand tray, through the water to freedom. We also all had some unleavened ‘Matzo’ bread which we ate together when everyone had been served. Sound familiar? Bible stories are powerful things. The class teacher loved it and has invited me back.
If anyone missed the taster session I did at KBC you are very welcome to come to the session I’m doing for the Central Baptist Association on Saturday 19th October. It’s at Newport Pagnall Baptist Church from 10 – 1. No charge. You can have a lift with me and Mary, if you don’t mind arriving early and waiting at the end until I’ve packed everything away.
Isn’t the new pope interesting? He has deliberately decided not to live in the papal palace, and doesn’t wear all the finery his predecessor so obviously loved. Apparently, when he left Argentina to go to Rome, he cancelled the newspapers himself. This is lovable humility, but it also signals a more approachable style. He chats to journalists. He is disarmingly frank. He tries to make positive links with people that the RC church has often seemed to condemn in the past. And this week he has gathered around him the G8, a sort of deacons’ meeting of cardinals, to reform the Vatican.
I can’t help feeling that he’s really a Baptist. I’m joking, of course, but like, I imagine, most people who see and hear him, I feel drawn to him, and I can’t help but approve of someone who is a reformer, a radical who wants to rediscover the spirit of the poor Jesus.
I believe that all churches, Baptist, Roman Catholic or whatever, need to be in a perpetual state of reformation. No group of humans is ever perfect, and institutions get stuck, and get in the way of the visions that started them. The church must be always changing, criticising and renewing itself.
And a sense of humour is important, together with a dose of humility. Not taking ourselves too seriously helps us take the important things seriously. I think the RC church is exciting to watch at the moment. I wonder if we Protestants would ever have had to leave if all popes had been like Francis.
I understand that they use a new paint on the Forth Bridge these days. Apparently it lasts for years, and when they get to one end of the bridge they can all go off to other jobs. It isn’t like that for the churches.
On Thursday I went to Baptist House at Didcot. I met with two members of the BMS World Mission team to discuss my visit to the Freeset project in north east India for 3 weeks next January.
BMS arranges for students to have an option for an overseas mission experience as part of their ministerial formation. In 2011 I was part of a team from the Northern Baptist Learning Community in Manchester who went to Kolkata. Of all the projects we visited, it was the Freeset project which inspired me most. There are some 10,000 ‘women in line’ in Kolkata – street sex workers. Very few have any choice in this – many are traffiked from rural areas, sold by their parents who live in extreme poverty with no alternative. About 10 years ago a Christian couple from New Zealand set up a small business making bags from locally grown jute. This offered a choice of employment to a few of these women. The business has developed and now exports bags and t-shirts – but most importantly it also gives freedom to an increasing number of women. The employees at Freeset have opportunities not only to earn a living with dignity but also to be involved in making decisions about childcare and working arrangements, to learn to read and write and share in daily prayers and Bible study. Jesus had a lot to say about the poor; Jesus gave dignity those society treated as invisible and enabled them to be restored to a full life in the community; Jesus was notorious for befriending tax-collectors and prostitutes. Reflecting on how we can follow in Jesus’ footsteps today is what I will be involved in when I visit Kolkata in January.
We have a choir. There were just seven of us this week, but usually we are in double figures. We’re a new choir, and most of us are new to singing in a choir, so we go slowly and without any pressure. We are, though, learning to sing in harmony, learning new repertoire in a number of very different styles, and we usually make a really good sound.
Tonight we met and sang an old American folksong, an Eighteenth Century round (which one of our newer members remembered from his childhood), a South African work song, a modern hymn, an Alleluia, and a sweet little Christmas song by John L Bell of the Iona Community.
We meet from 7 to 8.15pm on Mondays, usually in the sanctuary. New voices are always welcome.
It is time for our Harvest Barn Dance.
This year, the barn dance is on Saturday 28th September at 7pm. Tickets are £5 for adults, and £3 for children which includes refreshments. For tickets email Janet Molloy, email@example.com or Barbara Ingman firstname.lastname@example.org