The Vellore Partnership
The Cambridgeshire Ecumenical Council has been in covenanted partnership with the Diocese of Vellore since 1992 when a link was inaugurated at Bar Hill. This Diocese is part of the Church of South India, a united church of many denominations with its burning bush and gospel motif “that they all may be one.” In 2005 a group (including Deborah McVey, URC minister at St Luke’s) visited Vellore immediately after the tsunami and were able to report at first hand the devastation caused and the help given by the CSI as well as other agencies and faith groups. On this visit the covenant was renewed for a second term. The partnership is supported by all the churches of the Cambridgeshire Ecumenical Council and a representative group, the Vellore Link Support Group which seeks to promote and develop close friendships with Bishop William, the ministers and people of that part of the CSI, raising funds for specific projects and encouraging links with local churches in Cambridgeshire.
The Diocesan website gives information and further links to Vellore and photographs which show this colourful and welcoming church in its many local settings. Deborah McVey is available to speak and show a DVD if your church wants to know more, as are any other members of the Support Group who have visited Vellore since 2005 and who have more news of this church. Two leaflets are available: Praying with Vellore, a monthly prayer calendar and Passage to Vellore. The DVD describes the work in the Diocese of Vellore in the Church of South India.
Silveira House in Zimbabwe
St. Luke’s Church (URC and C of E) supports Silveira House as its Commitment for Life Partner. Commitment for Life is a network of United Reformed Churches and Local Ecumenical Partnerships committed to praying, giving and campaigning for change.
Silveira House is an NGO development centre on the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe, which provides training to the poor. The Centre was established in 1964 in response to 'knocks on the door' from the people seeking assistance. Today Silveira House continues that tradition by providing training, extension and research services both at the Centre and in the field, as well as consultancy services to partner organisations.
Their mission is to provide a variety of training courses aimed at assisting people to improve the quality of their lives. It is their belief that all people, made in the image of God, are created to be free with the potential for individual growth and community building. At Silveira House they acknowledge the crucial dimension of faith in their work, integrally linked to the struggle for justice.
Silveira House’s vision is of integral or sustainable development. They stress
- development of the whole person in all dimensions, spiritual, physical, cultural, social and political
- empowerment of people, both individuals and communities, to help themselves
- self-reliance which allows people to understand, manage and control their environment in a sustainable fashion.
People living with HIV in Zimbabwe are particularly vulnerable to the country’s troubles because of the shortage of food and medicine, including anti-retrovirals. Even those who have established small market enterprises through Silveira House are facing difficulties as the country’s deteriorating economy takes its toll.
Silveira House are finding it difficult to encourage people to get tested. One of the reasons that they were able to do this in the past was because they offered support for people who found they were positive through the small market enterprise (SME) project. However, now that people can see that the SMEs are no longer bringing such obvious tangible benefits fewer people are willing to get tested. Silviera House are seeking to overcome this problem by looking to strengthen relationships with other organisations that offer support for people living with HIV. They also provide training projects in HIV/AIDS, Leadership, Advocacy and Peace Building and Herbal and household remedies.
Namuncha Community Secondary School, Kenya
St. Giles' Church supports a schools' project in Namuncha, a Maasai community in the Rift Valley 100km north west of Nairobi. It is a poor pastoralist community whose currency is animals which are only now recovering in numbers and strength after the dry years. All Maasai know and understand the need and reason for change, moving on to fresh pastures, and this is how they have survived. They know the way forward is to educate their children and themselves.
Watch a video about the work of this project here. There is also a leaflet that you can read or download here or below.