A Packed Hall at BWCF's Latest Open Forum
There was a packed agenda at BWCF’s recent Open Forum held at the Salvation Army Citadel in Great Yarmouth as well as a packed hall. The meeting opened with prayer and worship led by Lieutenant Rob Symons
THE SALVATION ARMY – ROB SYMONS
After a warm welcome from, Rob Symons, the meeting began with an introduction and brief account of Rob’s previous work and life in Oldham and also his vision for Great Yarmouth.
He spoke of his family, wife Lieutenant Georgina and his little girl Naomi aged 4½ and the latest edition to the family, baby Daniel aged 4 months. Georgina came from Burnley in Lancashire and worked as a district nurse but always believed that her destiny would be in the ministry. Rob and Georgina enjoyed being part of The Salvation Army church in Oldham which is where Rob grew up.
The couple decided to branch out in faith and to follow their instincts and vision to train in the ministry. Great Yarmouth is the Symons’ first appointment since graduating from The Salvation Army’s theological college. They were ordained and commissioned as ministers of religion, and officers in The Salvation Army in 2009.
Since coming to Great Yarmouth Lieutenant Rob has been actively working within the community. He firmly believes in ‘Faith in Action’ and reaching out to help people and provide them with the basic needs in life. The church has facilities such as showers and washing facilities, warm clothes and blankets and they do their best to find a place for people who have no where to go.
Rob said that he was bowled over by the way the churches work together and he believes that there will soon be a revival in the borough. He said that under the power of the Holy Spirit amazing things will be done. He was also very impressed with the work of the BWCF and the Network Yarmouth website. He referred to Acts 2 v 4 as his hope and prayers for the work of the BWCF.
Eldred Willey, from Norwich Kings Church, spoke about the work of Christian Aid in some of the poorest parts of the world and how climate change is creating more desert land. In Cape Town he met a group of people from the Hillsong Church who were reaching out to the poor and providing lunches.
Many farmers have moved to Cape Town because of the climate change. Presented on screen were the makeshift homes that the poor have put together to live in. The group of helpers went into the town to build decent homes for the homeless. Eldred said that it was amazing how the white and the black all worked together and transformed many of the shacks into homes.
He next spoke about Nairobi and the work that is being done there. Again we were shown the homes and spoke of the stench that these people have to live in. Christian Aid has been putting in toilet blocks and washing facilities.
Burkina Faso which is situated in West Africa is the seventh poorest country in the world. One in five of its people are hungry all the time. The Sahara Desert is advancing by 33m a year. In Norwich they are raising money for a project to plant trees and install wells. Eldred spoke about a lady called Melissa and how she teamed up with others to pray and fast. She had a vision to turn desert land into good land, prayers were answered and they collected an amazing amount of money.
Leaflets were distributed entitled, ‘We will harvest the desert’, with a request for help. This could be in the form of a fundraising event, a sponsored run or swim, or just by praying and telling others. The European Union has promised to quadruple all donations.
Mark LLewellyn who is a Community Department Worker gave an update regarding Fair Trade. He spoke of how many people work in poor conditions and how Fair Trade ensures that people are paid a fair wage for their work and are treated decently.
The Borough of Great Yarmouth has applied to be registered as a Fairtrade Borough. He said that there are just a few things that need to be put in place and an announcement would be published in the Mercury. Mark requested that it would be good if everyone would help promote the cause by buying these products during the Fairtrade fortnight which is entitled ‘Swop while you shop’.
David Hutchison gave a talk about a new project that is in the process of being introduced in Great Yarmouth. The project has been designed for people and by people of Great Yarmouth who live, work and study there. 96K is a challenge and a mechanism to open up channels of communication that identify needs in the community, involve people in improving service planning and delivery and capture people’s views on efficiency and effectiveness.
A new website is in the process of being designed which will provide information and links to many organisations and will act as a voice to the community. A booklet will also be distributed that will provide information for those who don’t have a computer.
There are opportunities for those who would like to be involved. This will give the opportunity to learn new skills, help make a difference to people, and help to develop a community website. The project will require journalists and photographers for the web. IT skills are welcome but not essential as training will be provided.
Revd Peter Paine reported that the BWCF will be taking the church to the Gorleston Crematorium on 14th March for Mothers’ Day. It was a great success last year and this year it should be even better as a small grant has been given to provide a huge yellow banner with the BWCF logo on. This banner will provide protection for the volunteers who will be serving coffee, tea, cold drinks and biscuits to people who are visiting their mother’s or loved ones graves. There will be members of the clergy and lay people walking around to talk to people and offer solace where necessary. The chapel will also be open so that people can come in and have a quiet moment by themselves. A short service will take place every half hour. Prayer cards will be available in the chapel and at the end of the day there will be a final service and these prayer requests will be read out.
The meeting closed with prayer and worship and was followed by copious cups of tea and coffee. There was also a sales stall for people to buy Trade Craft goods
article by Yvonne Hill and photos by Roger Hill