News from our link with All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi and the Urban Development Programme (UDP) community in Kayole, Kenya. Tuesday 26th May 2020 A Zoom conversation was hosted by Linda Abwa of CMSI, and included Isabelle Prondzynski (CMSI Associate) Kathleen (All Saints Cathedral/UDP) and Lynn Wilson ( St Marks Dundela), on Thursday 21st May. The following are the main points learned from our conversation. The full conversation is available to view as a video recording. 1. Isabelle is currently based in Brussels during the lockdown. Her work visa for Kenya has expired, and although the borders and airport are currently closed, she hopes that her new visa is in the pipeline and that she may be able to return mid June, possibly with help from the embassy in Brussels. 2. At the Cathedral, some work continues to record and transmit services and bible studies, and to coordinate food relief for Cathedral members who have been hit hard by the lack of food supply and employment. It has proved difficult to distribute aid at the Cathedral without causing crowds to gather. Churches generally are helping to spread health messages about infection control at every service. 3. The country has been hit by locust infestations and more recently by heavy rains and flooding, so that many reservoirs have overflowed, with water pipes bursting or becoming blocked by mud. This has interrupted the already sporadic water supply, particularly in poorer parts of Nairobi. Kayole has had no water for past 2 weeks. The rain also results in areas of standing water, which increases the risks of malaria and typhoid. In Kayole the situation has been improved by installation of sewers in last few years, which are generally working well, but in some areas or homes standing water is still a problem. 4. The city is under a curfew from 7 pm to 6 am which is being strictly enforced by the police. There are traffic controls at the city limits. Transport by bus is extremely slow due to need for social distancing. For example Louise Githire’s working day would require an hour of queueing for the bus and a two and a half hour journey home. Traffic restrictions also affect the flow of food into the city, and adds to the costs charged. 5. Food supplies generally are more expensive due to the locusts, rains and transport issues. Lucy Irungu is continuing to source food for the community through the normal supplier for the school. The normal school meals are not available to children or the sick/elderly as the school is closed, but Lucy has been attempting to distribute basic supplies from the school premises. This has raised difficulties with crowds gathering, so she has also been organising delivery to homes. Demand for food is high as many are unable to work to receive a daily income. 6. A further issue was highlighted around fuel for cooking, and in many cases people do not have the funds to buy kerosene or charcoal, which have become increasingly expensive. We understand Lucy has been cooking some meals at home and distributing them as required. She is also walking many miles to do this, as she fears using the public transport. 7. Antony Njoroge is working through the Tumaini African Foundation to support the youth in the area, however he lives some distance away and can only visit once a week. Communication is difficult as many can no longer afford phone top up cards. He is hoping to use a new printer to provide educational resources for children and young people. They are reaching out to sex workers and those with HIV who live just beyond the community. Since our Zoom conversation we have heard that Antony’s wife has had their first baby, to be called Isabelle Njeri. 8. Currently there is a low incidence of Covid 19 infection. A mass testing programme is underway, identifying hotspots, and testing was to be available in Kayole on Saturday 23rd May. Other health concerns include the lack of vaccinations for children as this has stopped, issues around childbirth as women fail to go to hospital in time, and high incidence of hypertension in the elderly. The school painter John, who has recently finished the school extension, is very ill in hospital with acute kidney failure. The UDP sewing group who have been making health kits for girls are also hoping to begin sewing face masks.
Through CMSI, St Marks has been able to send £3700 this month to the UDP, to assist in the purchase of food, water and educational supplies, to meet the basic needs of children, their families and the vulnerable elderly. This money was raised over the past year through donations from parishioners, and fundraising events including the 2019 Belfast Marathon, Pop-up café, rugby breakfast, children’s activity afternoon, bag packing events, Christmas hampers, and gift vouchers. Thank you for your support and please keep this community and all of these issues in your prayers. You are welcome to join us for a special service focussing on our mission link, on Sunday 21st June via Facebook.
Teach us to pray In St Mark’s our Bible study and discussion groups are safe spaces to share thoughts, ask questions and learn more about faith and prayer. The Lord’s Prayer is at the core of all our services, often learned in childhood and a source of comfort to many. Revd Chris St John offers this guide to the well known prayer. If you have ever struggled with prayer you are not alone. The disciples spent every day with Jesus, but realised their prayer life was lacking. In Matthew Chapter 6 and Luke Chapter 11 we receive direct advice from Jesus on what effective prayer looks like, and how to connect directly with the God who created the universe. 1. Go to your room and close your door - prayer is a private thing. 2. Don’t babble, you don’t need to use lots of words as God knows what you are going to say. Enjoy being in his presence. Listen for what he has to say to you. 3. When you are a follower of Jesus you get to call God ‘Father’. You can come into God’s presence and speak freely. 4. Remember God is holy so treat him with respect. 5. God’s kingdom has different values than those of this world. Prayer enables God’s kingdom to advance on earth. Discover what part you are to play in his advancing kingdom. 6. Don’t be afraid to ask God for your essential needs, your ‘daily bread’. 7. Ask God to forgive you for those sins you can remember. This might take a long or a short time, but one thing is for sure, everyone sins! 8. Don’t forget to forgive those people who have sinned against you. You don’t need to become their best friend, but forgiveness will remove hatred from your heart. 9. In life we are all tempted, but when we come to God, he can help us to overcome temptation. This helps us become the people God has designed us to be and help his kingdom advance. 10. Be encouraged to pray often, it really does change things.
Prayer isn’t so difficult. The hardest thing is getting into the habit of setting time aside to be with God. The Lord’s Prayer is a guide, so use the guide to find where God wishes to take you and then enjoy yourself while you’re there. God is always ready to listen.
This letter is written in a spirit of hope. On St Patrick’s Day, the Church of Ireland suspended all services on Sundays and weekdays as well as other activities as a response to the Government’s Corona – Covid 19 guidance. This applies to St Mark’s, Dundela. However, we are still a church community, the Body of Christ, and we continue to pray, build up one another in faith and serve our neighbours – though in a different way, as we are facing a challenging and uncertain time. Below, you can read what we do at present.
Daily Prayers Every day at 11.00 a.m. a bell will chime in St Mark’s Church. As the bell rings, prayers will be said in the church, asking for God’s guidance and strength for His people and God’s blessing upon us, our neighbourhood and nation in this time of uncertainty. As you hear the bell or know that it is rung, join us wherever you are for a moment in prayer. This is powerful, especially as, at present, we do not gather for services but we, God’s people, are encouraged to pray wherever we are and whenever we can.
Private Prayer The Church will be open for private prayers at different times. Times are advertised on Facebook, Instagram and the noticeboard outside the parish hall (at the corner Sydenham Avenue and Holywood Road). This may change, depending on future advice we receive. Please enter through the north porch and wash your hands on arrival and make sure that you sit no closer than 2 meters to anyone else. Please do not come in if you are feeling unwell. At the time of circulating this letter, the church will be open for private prayer on Sunday 22 of March between 4.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Weekly Email Every week we will send you an email, a prayer letter with readings and reflections, prayers and poems and other relevant information. This is a way for us to stay in touch with you, when we cannot meet face-to-face.
If you wish to receive this weekly letter, please email the Parish Office and you will be added to the list of recipients, you can do so by replying to this email by telephone or by sending an email to: email@example.com
Online Church Services Tomorrow we hope to have a small act of worship and reflection, posted on our Facebook page. It is our first attempt and the clergy, the organist and others in St Mark’s, are exploring different ways to record acts of worship that can be shared with parishioners through email attachments, on Facebook and on our website. More information about this will follow. On its website, the Church of Ireland lists different broadcasts and online church services: https://www.ireland.anglican.org/ The Diocesan website has regular updates and you can find it at: https://www.downanddromore.org/
How we can help and support each other A group of parishioners are willing to offer you support and practical help. The tasks we can help with are at least threefold. Firstly, a phone ministry if you wish to have someone to talk to. We can arrange for someone from church to phone and make regular contact with you. Secondly, you may need assistance with messages and errands outside your home, that you no longer can do yourself. This may be collecting prescriptions from the chemist as well as buying food, posting a letter etc. Thirdly, the clergy are always available at the other end of the phone or by email, if you wish to have a conversation, pray together with us, or discuss matters that are pressing or of concern.
Please be assured that all volunteers and helpers are instructed and supported by Revd Helene and Revd Chris and we do all we can to maintain confidentiality. This ministry is co-ordinated via the Parish Office and parishioners who would like support in any way are welcome to contact us. Please phone us on: T. 028 – 9065 4090 or send an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This support is available not only to all our parishioners but also to those who live in our parish. No matter our age, if we live alone or not, we all may need a cheerful voice at the other end of the phone or a helping hand.
Sunday School As our children will no longer come together on Sunday mornings, the Sunday School teachers have kindly put together a weekly pack that will be sent to children via email. This children’s ministry is open to all. Please email the office, email: email@example.com and let us know if you would like your child to receive a weekly greeting and some thoughts for the week.
Parish Office The Parish Office remain attended (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 9.00 a.m. to 12 noon). However, we are not open to visitors, but someone is at the other end of the phone and emails are read. Our letterbox, which is in the window, to the left of the entrance door of the Heyn Hall (St Mark’s Parish Hall), is checked daily, where you can leave any correspondence, Free Will Offering Envelopes or suggestions on how we can support each other. Thank you.
The Larder Thank you very much for your support and gifts to the local foodbank, The Larder. We will continue to receive donations, please bring them to the Heyn Hall (St Mark’s Parish Hall), during office hours and leave your donations by the door and we will pass on the donations.
If we do not have your email or phone number, please send it to us as it will help us to keep in contact with you. During this uncertain period, we will keep in contact with you through email, social media (Facebook and Instagram) and our website. We are here to support you and to listen. And we would love to hear from you; please share your ideas and words of encouragement so that we can pass them on to other parishioners. Thank you.
come and scatter the darkness of our hearts by the light of your presence; that we may know you the Light of the world and the one true God, blessed this night and for evermore. Amen. (Common Collect: The Late Evening Office)
St Mark’s Easter General Vestry Meeting (CANCELLED) Tuesday 28 April 2020, 7.30 pm in Parish Hall. All welcome to attend this meeting which reports on the progress of the Parish over the past year. Sunday
(CANCELLED) Children’s and Youth activities this spring
Sunday School and Creche: We meet during the 10.45 am Sunday service in the Music Room of the church. During the month of March the children will be following the CMSI Children’s Resource about life in Burundi, and learning the song ‘Every Blade of Grass’ to sing on Mothering Sunday. Contact: Yvonne McMaster 9042 2836
(CANCELLED) Youth Fellowship This meets on the second Sunday of each month, 7.30 pm in the Heyn Hall when we have fun learning about important themes in the Bible. The third Sunday is JAM night when we design the YF church service and practise some praise songs. On the fourth Sunday of each month the YF lead the 6.30 pm evening worship in the church, and chill out afterwards. 8 March The Bread Maker - use your loaf and learn how Jesus satisfies our needs. We’ll also bake some bread. 12 April Jesus is our team manager - what it means to be part of the best team ever. 10 May BFF - Jesus is our best friend forever, that’s really good news with exams looming.
The YF team enjoyed running their Christmas Film afternoon in December, when a number of kids made crafts, and watched Arthur Christmas. The event raised £140 which will be used to support two YF members as they embark on their visit to our mission partners in Kenya this summer. Well done
St Mark’s Mission Link with Urban Development Programme (UDP) Nairobi, Kenya Latest News and Timeline
Messy Church provides an innovative way of looking at the main characters and events of the Bible. Using crafts, games, songs and activities, children gain biblical knowledge, while having fun. Messy Church is followed by snack time after all the work is done. Children need to be accompanied by an adult (you’ll have fun too!). Join us for a Messy Mix-up in the hall on Saturday 25 April from 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm.
(CANCELLED) Messy Church provides an innovative way of looking at the main characters and events of the Bible. Using crafts, games, songs and activities, children gain biblical knowledge, while having fun. Messy Church is followed by snack time after all the work is done. Children need to be accompanied by an adult (you’ll have fun too!). Join us for a Messy Mix-up in the hall on Saturday 25 April from 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm.
Afternoon Tea in the Rectory : (CANCELLED) Tuesday 25 February, 24 March, 28 April and 26 May 2020
Book Club (CANCELLED)
5 May Straight is the Gate by Andre Gide. A powerful story of young love blighted by religious dedication. Contact: Revd Helene Steed 07342 720350
(CANCELLED) Creative Stitching Group: Meets in the Heyn Hall on the second and fourth Tuesday each month from 7.30 pm. Bring along your choice of creative project and enjoy some chat together as we work, all levels of experience welcome. Recently the group have completed some beautifully hand-embroidered linens to be used during communion. Contact: Ann Clark 9029 2205
Evergreens (CANCELLED) : A group of seniors, young at heart, who meet on the second Wednesday of the month at 2.30 pm for fellowship and activities. Perhaps you know or care for an elderly friend or relative? Do bring them along. 11 March Easter craft activity afternoon. 8 April No meeting, as it is Holy Week. 13 May End of Year Afternoon Tea. Contact: Lorna Symmons 9065 2777
Flower Guild: If you would like to help with floral arrangements, or the Easter decorations on Saturday 11 April 10.00 am to 12 noon, please get in touch. Contact: Parish office 9065 4090
The Men's Group (CANCELLED)
Men’s Group: The men’s group meets monthly in the Heyn Hall. Tuesday 10 March 7.30 pm Curry night - Bollywood without the dancing Tuesday 14 April War years remembered - A trip to a private museum in Ballyclare to see an interesting collection of memorabilia. We assemble at the Heyn Hall at 6.30 pm Tuesday 12 May 7.30 pm French boule, baguette and fromage evening. We will be playing at the historical C.S. Lewis petanque court to the rear of the Old Rectory, where completely unconfirmed rumours suggest that this is where Revd Hamilton taught C.S. Lewis how to play French boules. Contact: Revd Chris St John 07463 745105
Mothers Union: Meets in the hall on the third Wednesday of the month. (CANCELLED) 18 March Join us for the Lenten Service in Church 7.30 pm, followed by supper. 15 April A talk by Pat Todd from the Lace Guild, including reference to founding member of MU, Thelma Goldring, 8.00 pm. May Summer outing, details to be confirmed. Contact: Ann Clark, Branch Leader 9029 2205
Music at St Marks: (CANCELLED) Our Music Group welcomes instrumentalists to play together at many of our services. Contact Sarah Bass: 07731 422002.
Open Choir: (CANCELLED) Meets to rehearse on Wednesdays from 6.00 to 7.15 pm in the Music Room in the Church, and from 10.00 am on Sundays to support hymn singing at the 10.45 am service.
The choir prepare a wide range of easy and more challenging pieces, from African spirituals to canticles sung in four parts, and were delighted to have their new chairs dedicated in February, in memory of loved ones, many of whom have inspired them to sing. An open invitation is extended to parishioners and friends of St Mark’s who love singing (even with no previous experience), are selective with time investments (there’s no long term commitment) and who want to leave refreshed and inspired.
Why not try joining us as an occasional singer as we prepare for Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter Sunday? Sing the Hymnal: join us in the Side Chapel for a devotional hour of prayerful singing of traditional Lenten hymns on Monday 30 March, 6.45 to 7.45 pm, continuing from Hymn 1 on Monday 27 April and Monday 18 May.
Everyone welcome. Motley Motets: Calling for 4 to 8 confident, independent singers to perform a cappella motets on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, two rehearsals to be arranged. Repertoire to include Renaissance motets and Durufle’s Ubi Caritas. Contact: Beth Aiken 07874 044317
Scottish Country Dancing: CANCELLED) A mixed group of beginner and improving dancers, meets in the hall on Thursdays at 7.30 pm. Our final meeting of the season will be on Thursday 2 April. Contact: John Campbell 07923 492357
Study Group (CANCELLED)
The study group meets second and fourth Wednesday from 8.00 to 9.00 pm in the hall. It seeks to gently develop a sound theoretical and biblical knowledge, through a combination of teaching and discussion, enhancing your bible reading experience. During Lent and Easter the study group will not be meeting as the Wednesday services during this period will be incorporating interesting talks. After Easter we will recommence the very popular “Divine Conspiracy” series by Dallas Willard. 22 April Treasuring what matters most 13 May Becoming a community of prayerful love 27 May Living as a disciple of Jesus Contact: Revd Chris St John 07463 745105
The Divine Conspiracy, the first in a video study series by Dallas Willard. 22 January The path to a blessed life. 12 February Becoming a good person. 26 February Treasuring what matters most.
Contact: Revd Chris St John 07463 745105
Walking Group: (CANCELLED) Meet at the Heyn Hall, and join us for a family friendly walk, suitable for all, followed by coffee. Saturday 14 March 1.30 pm Floodgates Walk at Strangford Lough Saturday 4 April 1.30 pm Killynether Wood, Scrabo Saturday 2 May 1.30 pm A tour of Pogue’s Entry, Antrim Contact : Hannah Nelson 9065 1916 For more information on any parish group or event, you can also contact the parish office or clergy, see the inside front cover for details.
Update from the Treasurer, John Campbell Our parish meeting in November communicated the significance of the financial challenges that the Select Vestry had been grappling with since May 2018, and invited parishioners to consider what they could do about increasing their giving, or at the least, to change to giving by Standing Order. I am pleased to report a noticeable increase in giving by Standing Order, which is a fabulous initial response. Thank you. Everyone who attended church during January will have noticed some issues with the heating system, and will have heard the Rector explaining that repairs were underway. Several parishioners sought information about potential costs, so that they could make a donation towards the repairs.
The Select Vestry have approved expenditure up to £5000, and anyone who would like to support those repairs should mark their donation separately from Freewill Offering. Any contribution will be very helpful. A full financial report will be available at the Easter General Vestry meeting, Tuesday 30 April at 7.30 pm.