JEEL AL AMAL - Patti Price writes:
“Jeel al Amal” may ‘ring a bell’ with a number of readers of this magazine.
In the late ’nineties, Canon Tony Ross took a group of people from the CHEQS parishes on a tour of the Holy Land. As part of the tour, the group visited Bethany, a village a few miles distant from Jerusalem. There they found the most amazing orphanage housing over a hundred homeless boys. Amazing because it was started by a very ordinary Christian couple who could not bear to see boys as young as three years old living on the streets in total poverty. Also amazing because it was, and still is, run on no secure income but by trust in a loving God who will provide!
On a recent visit to Jerusalem I remembered this orphanage and thought I would see if it was still in existence. CHEQS had supported the work for a number of years following that initial visit, the Lent lunches being a great fund raiser.
Finding the place was a bit of an adventure. Bethany is a Palestinian village, which means check-points, soldiers with guns, don’t forget to take your passport ... and when you arrive how on earth do you find the Home? Bethany is now a large town and the only clue was that it was somewhere near Lazarus’ tomb! Thank goodness for tourists who like to see these places: at least they are sign- posted ... though as it happened it wasn’t very near the orphanage!
Ninety boys are now housed, educated, cared for in cheerful bright if crowded surroundings. The delightful House Father, clearly adored by the children, had himself been taken in as a three-year old; and now, married and himself the father of a little girl, had returned to run the Home. The original couple have now both died, and their daughter, herself a married woman with a family living in Jeru- salem, is now in charge. “Very reluctantly” she told me. Not because she does not love the children and the Home, but because she said “I knew the financial side would be a huge burden and keep me awake at nights wondering how we were going to pay the bills”.
She then went on to tell me marvellous stories of how God had provided at the critical moment through other people. But she had also added that her decision to take on the Home was because she knew that if she did not then ninety boys would be back on the streets with absolutely nowhere to go, and she could not bear that.
I confess when I heard the size of the bills I was keen to help. I hope that, reading this, some of you might be also. If so, the good old Lent Lunches might be re- instated and perhaps at least some of the CHEQS churches could add Jeel Al Amel to their charitable giving. Let us know!
We’re delighted to announce that in April a newly-retired clergyman, Roger Scoones, will be moving to the CHEQS churches from Manchester Diocese, to enjoy some well- earned rest in the Cotswolds ... and to be useful in our five churches. This will not dis- place any of our current ministers, but will bring the group up to strength so that we can minister more effectively, and less hurriedly; and so that we can continue to develop the worship and fellowship life of our different church communities.
We asked Roger to write about himself for us:
Retirement! what does that mean?
When I was twenty-one years old I was given a booklet entitled ‘My Pension’ by the Solicitor to whom I was then articled, in Plymouth. Retirement seemed a long way off in 1969! At last it has become a reality, and one which I am facing with a sense of excitement and slight trepidation.
As I was explaining to someone at a Carol Service before Christmas, the Church of England has been very good to me over many years, giving me work to do and somewhere to live! I have been greatly blessed, and my life in the ordained ministry has been a very happy, fulfilling and challenging one.
In 1982, to my surprise God called me away from the West Country, to serve in the North of England, – where I have remained ever since. The people of that first parish in Liverpool, and then in Bradford where I served in the Cathedral, have left an indelible impression on me, and I am leaving many dear friends to come south once again.
My calling to be a parish priest has led me to two quite different parishes in Cheshire, one a market town, Congleton , where I was very happy; and then by contrast to Stockport, where I have spent the last nineteen years engaged in bringing a struggling town-centre church into the twenty-first century.
The prospect of moving away from the bright lights of the vibrant city of Manchester and the spectacular hill country of the Peak District, both close at hand, leave me feeling sad, but satisfied, in having been permitted to spend a large part of my life serving the Lord here, amongst such lovely people and in such a beautiful part of the country.
Early in my ordained ministry I was invited to take a winter chaplaincy in the Swiss Alps, with the Intercontinental Church Society, with whom I’d worked before going to theological college in Bristol. As a skier, I have been blessed in being able to continue my ministry in Switzerland ever since, and being still fit enough to ski, and walk (though not seriously), I am a regular traveller to Wengen which is somewhere I have come to know and love.
My great-grandfather was an artist, and his appreciation of watercolour painting has come down to me through my mother; and though not being at all proficient, but keen to become more skilled, I look forward to spending time doing more painting, and perhaps to singing in a choir, if a bass is needed. I am looking forward to a quieter life in the countryside, after many years of rushing around in a great conurbation, which I have to admit, has suited me down to the ground.
Above all, I am ready and willing to being of use to God and the church, and to the community in which I hope to find a home. I am very much looking forward to, as someone has written to me, “a new era of ministry”. I love the Bible , and I value the opportunity for preaching the Word. I am happy talking to children ... and meeting people from all ages, to be honest.
I consider myself to have been very fortunate to have been called to live in the north of England for so many years, a time of lasting friendship and of Christian fellowship and service which will stay with me as happy memories as I settle into a new. very different, way of life – retirement, whatever that means!
Rev Roger Scoones
Rector, St Mary’s Stockport