STEWARTRY FOOD BANK

On behalf of Stewartry Food Bank (SFB) I would like to thank eveeryone who has so generously supported us as we endeavour to meet the needs of local people throughout the Stewartry, particularly during these difficult times.

SFB began in 2012 as an initiative of Kirkcudbright Churches Together.  For several years it has been operated from Greyfriars House in Kirkcudbright by a small team of dedicated volunteers.  We acknowledge, with tremendous gratitude, the immense support tht Greyfriars Church has provided over several years.  Due to the need for better access and more space, we have now moved to a corner of the Parish Church.

During the pandemic, along with Stewartry Council of Voluntary Services (SCVS), whose support has been invaluable, we are working in partnership with Stepping Stones based in Castle Douglas.  Provision of parcels has increased by 300% since March this year.

As confidentiality is paramount, we use a dedicated mobile phone for all referrals.  The majority of recipients are referred to us by SCVS or various departments of Social Services, with other organisations and certain individuals referring occasionally.

SFB could not achieve anything without the ready support of the volunteers who undertake a variety of tasks and the help of local businesses who have supported us in many ways.  However, the important thing is to ensure that we continue to meet the local needs.  Should you, or anyone you know, be in need of help, please contact SCVS on 07387 658 177.

Again, thank you for your support.  Keep safe and well.

We gratefully acknowledge funding from Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Marian Dixon
 

A LOOK BEHIND THE SCENES

Howard has suggested that we take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about the “organisation” behind the printing & distribution of Kirkcudbright Parish Church News. He (Howard) edits the articles and news items which are submitted, composes them using “Microsoft Publisher,”and then prints around 1200 double-sided pages —- a task which usually takes over three hours using the church office printer!

A team of three of us then fold the sheets and afterwards put them into named folders for each of the 32 distributors. The folders are transferred to the Church (or Church Hall currently) from where most distributors collect them. The remaining folders are delivered straight to the homes of the distributors. A few Newsletters are sent by post to church members who live in rural areas.
We are grateful to all the distributors who brave the elements every month to put the Newsletter through the doors of so many parishioners. One of our team delivers as many as 50; most, a lot fewer!

We also rely on distributors to update us of any changes in their district.

On occasion we are in need of relief distributors to cover for holidays or periods of illness, so we would be pleased to hear from anyone who feels able to do this in the future.

Many thanks to everyone involved.

Sally McKenzie, Alison Armstrong and Valerie Elwood

GREETINGS FROM EDINBURGH! OUR MISSIONARY PARTNERS ARE HOME FROM MALAWI AT PRESENT

I hope this belated update finds you well as lockdown begins to ease. It’s been a while since our last Partner Plan letter, and a lot has happened in that time. Let me bring you back up to speed.

Our planned deputation visit for April and May was cancelled when UK restrictions would have prevented our meetings. We began making plans to stay in Malawi when the Church of Scotland decided that our family should return home before border closures prevented our return. With less than five days to prepare, leaving wasn’t easy, and farewells were rushed. However, we were mostly at peace with the decision – particularly when thinking of the children.

We’ve been living in a furlough flat in central Edinburgh which is operated by the Faith Impact Forum. We’ve had the full lockdown experience of home-schooling, searching for flour and attending church online. As things have eased, we’ve seen some of our family and friends, but Edinburgh isn’t home to us so we have to be satisfied with each other’s company until we can travel further.

Amongst the uncertainty, this has given us precious time together as a family. We’ve enjoyed the comforts of home. When things around us were changing quickly, we have been challenged by how important it is to find our rest in God and our identity in Christ.

It has been exciting and frustrating to watch developments in Malawi from afar. We’re thankful for a peaceful rerun of the presidential election and are hopeful for change in Malawi following the election of Rev Dr Lazarus Chakwera. Colleagues, and indeed the nation at large, are buoyed by his appointment. He came to power with Vice President Saulos Chilima, leading a broad alliance of opposition parties which promises to address corruption and foster economic development. In the days since they swore their oaths of office, they have been faithful to their word taking decisive action on farm subsidies, tax for low-income workers and tackling corruption in government contracting. There’s certainly reason for hope!

As I write, today is Malawi’s Independence Day. As a result of coronavirus, celebrations are more subdued, despite it also being inauguration day for the new president. Malawi was one of the last countries in the world to record cases of coronavirus, but now it is spreading more quickly. A significant number of cases have been recorded in Mzuzu, considering its size relative to other cities. Within the figures are two concerning trends. First, the high number of healthcare workers who are contracting the virus – this is grave concern in a country where healthcare workers are in desperately short supply.

There has also been a large number of cases recorded at the border among those returning from South Africa. Dozens of people at a time are testing positive on the flights and buses repatriating deported Malawians. Many Malawians travel to South Africa for work to support their families, however with lockdown restrictions in place, this hasn’t been easy or even possible. It’s unclear whether people are contracting the virus in detention centres or in transit, but it’s a concern to see people put at higher risk.

The response to coronavirus lived in the shadow of the election campaigns, but it is at the front of people’s minds now. Malawi’s new government has ruled out a strict lockdown; this makes sense in a country where poverty and hunger already present a real threat to life. The World Health Organisation predicts that African nations will begin to see the peak of the virus around the end of July.

Like here in the UK, prevention efforts have painful consequences. Schools in Malawi have been closed for over three months, with little in the way of support for home learning. Along with the economic impact of closed borders, this creates significant pressure on households – stress that can lead to an increase in violence against women and girls.

Our Gender Based Violence programme worked closely with the hospital to identify potential survivors of violence and begin the process of helping them gain access to justice. However, this isn’t possible with hospital services changing to deal with
coronavirus.

The scale and impact of COVID-19 in Malawi are as yet unknown. The way out of coronavirus will likely be longer and harder than for countries with developed economies. However, we find hope that with a younger demographic, the direct impact might be lower than in other countries. Malawi has experience of dealing with health crises such as HIV and AIDS and can draw on the experience of its neighbours’ response to Ebola. The details of our own return to Malawi are known only to God at this stage, but we’ve felt relatively at peace in this time of waiting. We’re keen to get back when it is right and possible for us to do so. We continue to appreciate prayers for patience and wisdom as we work out when that might be, and for arrangements here in the meantime.  I’m now beginning to return from the government’s furlough scheme. I will be supporting colleagues in Malawi remotely as well as finding creative ways to communicate about our work with congregations here in Scotland while we can’t meet or travel. Jacqueline continues to work supporting a friend Malawi, and they are close to publishing their handbook on preventing lower back injury in rural communities.

Eilidh is coming to the end of her Mzuzu school year and has adapted well to home school – though she prefers the role of teacher. Morven’s energy cannot be locked down, so there was great excitement when playparks reopened last week – she’d have little memory of previously playing in one. While our return to Malawi is uncertain, we hope to see family in the coming weeks and perhaps some of you.

As ever, thanks for your continued prayers. If we can be supporting or praying for you too, please let us know.

Every blessing,

Gary, Jacqueline, Eilidh and Morven
 

IT'S A FAIR QUESTION

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Reverend Dr Martin Fair, has been active online since he took office in May, following a virtual installation service.

On the Church of Scotland website, among other things, you can catch up with episodes of his ‘ It’s a Fair Question ‘ interviews. They last approx 30 minutes and cover a wide range of issues, including science and God, racial prejudice in Scotland, the impact of drug addiction, the future face of the church, and tackling poverty. The style is relaxed and the discussions make for
interesting and easy listening.

You can find them at: http://www.youtube.com/c/churchofscotland/videos or search for ‘videos ‘ on the Church of Scotland website.
 

PRIVATE PRAYER TIME

The Kirk Session of Kirkcudbright Parish Church are in the process of formulating plans to allow limited opening of our Church premises for private prayer. The Church of Scotland have issued a 35 page guidance on how to ensure that this and various other church related activities can be safely restarted.

It is hoped therefore to be able by July to open the Church building on a limited basis for private prayer, perhaps on Wednesdays & Sundays, with appropriate safety measures in place.

We will need volunteers to allow this to happen. If you would like to offer a couple of hours of your time on these days to staff the Church, please contact our Session Clerk by email: session@kirkcudbrightchurchofscotland.uk or alternatively use the details on our 'Contacts' page.

Thank you for your assistance.

Editor