FOST Newsletter August 2013


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Newsletter of the Fellowship of St. Thomas August 2103

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newsletter august 2013 40th anniversary lecropt where it all began.


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balloch august 2013 dear friends i am sure none of you missed malala yusufzai addressing the united nations she is a great advocate for female education and for her own overcoming of difficulties it made me think a little about female education the churches have done so much to promote education with schools and colleges for women in villages and cities all over the subcontinent alexander duff east india and youngson punjab debated the best approach ­ english medium or local language and the discussion goes on today in some place there is a movement to ensure very early years education is in the child s mother tongue while others promote english very early one of the millennium development goals was free primary education for all by 2015 and it doesn t look too likely it will be achieved although there is a definite move to free primary education the churches see a need to provide schools for very poor children in villages and fringes of society in big cities some support for this is by the diocese of hyderabad in sindh a friend writes `major work needs to be done to improve school facilities although my greater interest is in the actual quality of what happens in the classroom the financial challenges are great 2 small schools have had to be closed another 2 have transferred management to pep who have strategies for creating quality sustainable schools in rural tribal contexts this leaves the diocese with 3 large schools and 4 in smaller towns alongside the pep rural school network i am sure that sounds familiar to many while thinking about education i read the terrible story of children who were poisoned and died in a village in india where free meals were


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provided child labour continues to be a problem although it is decreasing i spent some time earlier this year in sialkot pakistan see report elsewhere in newsletter i think i will be marked absent at the time of the next celebration at the end of september as i have to attend a probationer s conference of the church of scotland which coincides with it you will see we changed treasurers during the year because of ill health and we wish ian well some others of the committee are struggling with health issues no doubt reflecting our ages i nevertheless hope many of you will be able to attend as it will be an opportunity to look back over the years of the fellowship as it celebrates 40 years yours sincerely margaret nutter pakistan ­ easter 2013 i travelled to pakistan on sunday 10th march arriving in sialkot at 9.00 pm on monday 11th and was met by catherine nicol i had gone to be with her on 23rd when she was due to receive the tamgha-i qaid-iazam week one was uneventful and i settled in to catherine s routine with the girls in school it was the time of government 9th class and 10th class exams ­ external exams with girls going by transport to various locations we also purchased fabric for her to be made into a shalwar chemise for the big ceremony on sunday 17 th i spoke in hunter memorial church to tell of the award which catherine had modestly not mentioned to anyone on wed 20th march we managed to find out that the presentation would be in lahore not islamabad as we had imagined that evening walking to church for a service at 5.00pm catherine fell and fractured her femur the emergency services attended quite promptly and catherine was taken to memorial christian hospital where she was xrayed it was a very clear film with a very obvious


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fracture which the surgeon there said he was unable to deal with she had also sustained a cut to her head and this was stitched while it was decided the best surgeon was dr nisar chowdry who had his own hospital on commissioner road catherine was transferred there and it was agreed he would operate the next day after she had had some tests ­ at 75 she was considered `old by pakistani standards she had it pinned and plated on thu 21st evening under a spinal anaesthetic unlike uk operation had to be paid for in advance and i am very grateful that mr indryas gill did that immediately his wife who is a retired nursing sister with many contacts was there and stayed overnight with catherine in hospital for several nights which we greatly appreciated not only had money to be paid but blood had to be `banked the community was asked who had same blood group and one christian volunteered and also a medical rep who happened to be delivering to a local pharmacy offered to donate when he heard he had the same blood group in pakistan relatives have to provide food for the patient and anyone staying with them so there was shuttle of food from barahpatthar to the hospital for nearly two weeks after the weekend catherine was transferred to the christian hospital of dr azeem which is at the beginning of the cantonment he offered her accommodation there free of charge and it was hoped it would help control visiting she must have had hundreds of visitors most of whom prayed with her she was the only patient in the ward most of the time transfer could only take place after the bill to nisar chowdry clinic was paid in full which we managed with some money of catherine s and mr gill after transfer miss rebecca one of the teachers slept overnight in the hospital with catherine visitors i could not possibly count the number of people who visited catherine they came in droves to pray to offer gifts of fruit food milk flowers and even money much of the fruit was taken back to barahpatthar and shared with girls in boarding during all this catherine continued to smile to be concerned for others to bless all who came she never complained.


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i had put out some info by email and on facebook and greetings and messages of prayers and concern came from all around the world catherine while in hospital was asked if she would be organising the usual 500 hard boiled eggs for hunter memorial church for after the 4.00am easter service and she said `of course i shared in organising this ­ the coloured eggs were collected by the elders at about 3.00am i walked with the girls to the service at 4.00 am and by the time we arrived the church was quite full about 500 attended that service at which holy communion was celebrated and about 700 attended the 11.00 am service catherine was allowed home for easter day and because of poor electricity supply it was agreed she could stay overnight by then we had put her bed up on bricks to raise it it seems that she will probably be non weight bearing on left leg for several weeks followed by partial weight bearing before she got home i organised a wheel chair commode and walker on easter evening we had a meal with the hostel girls in scott hall only 9th and 10th class girls were there as the rest were on holiday we were about 100 and it was a meal of pilau rice bought in there was also cake or sweets from the gifts catherine had received i was delighted catherine could come home again on 2nd so that she could try all equipment before i left on the 2nd the stitches were removed and the wound had healed well catheter was also removed i was glad this was done before i left i was sorry to leave so soon but have other commitments i am grateful that mr and mrs gill continue to be attentive and that miss rebecca will continue caring zaffar the cook will try his best to provide a nutritious diet probably better than nhs hospital food ps catherine continues to improve and is now mobile with a walker and is able to take a few steps unsupported margaret nutter


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the fellowship of st thomas ­ something of the beginnings an invitation to a meeting at a manse between stirling and dunblane in late 1972 introduced me to two key figures in this story bill stewart a year or two into his ministry at lecropt and ted luscombe newly appointed provost of the episcopalian st paul s cathedral dundee later bishop of brechin and primus of the episcopal church both of these had significant indian background and experience bill with wilma had served in india in important jobs over a number of years i used to meet him at the brotherhood house in delhi when he came for pre-union planning meetings there he had been principal of serampore from 1959 to 1966 and most importantly for the ecumenical process was then moderator of the congregational/presbyterian union known as the ucni which became one of the constituent elements in the church of north india in that role he had been much involved in the later stages of the negotiations leading up to the cni union ted luscombe s initial indian experience had been in the army during ww2 then as rector of st barnabas paisley from 1966 he had an interesting indian link his predecessor as rector whom he came to know well was john aaron whose wife grace was a daughter of bishop azariah our treasurer is part of that family circle with a strong interest in the church in india ted was sent as an episcopalian representative to the union ceremony and celebration at nagpur in 1970 where he met bill they then sat together on a flight back to uk after the union and talking resolved to do something ecumenical that is to bring the new indian reality to bear on church relationships in scotland of this the fellowship was the first fruits with that meeting at the manse of lecropt a step on the way just back from a decade in delhi and now episcopalian chaplain at st andrews i was invited to the meeting in delhi my chief ecumenical involvements had been with the roman catholics and their jesuit chaplains in the university but i had become a presbyter of the cni at the unification of ministries which for us took place in new delhi immediately after nagpur i have a vivid recollection of the first synod of the new diocese of delhi and


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rajasthan the latter area bringing along with methodists and others a number of representatives of the presbyterian tradition face to face with a flesh-and-blood bishop now their bishop it was a rumbustious occasion as the two ecclesial streams converged eric nasir s sense of humour doing much to lighten that historic moment to the lecropt meeting katherine ramsey was also invited and so began her own spirited contribution to the process we then with others now joining in began to formalize the vision in meetings at scottish churches house dunblane and at augustine bristo church in edinburgh at an early meeting we welcomed a visiting north indian bishop who encouraged our ecumenical aspirations i had the pleasure of proposing our name the fellowship of st thomas and of composing a fellowship prayer which was often thereafter used at the beginning of meetings the name has worn well and is i think more embracing and says a bit more than `friends of this and `friends of that rooting us in an apostolic history which will find its fulfilment in india and in scotland in god s good time dan o connor balmullo


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book review mark t.b laing and paul weston eds theology in missionary perspective lesslie newbigin s legacy eugene oregon pickwick publications 2012 paperback 317 pages currently £25.64 on amazon this is a very significant addition to the growing number of books on the life and thought of lesslie newbigin it contains sixteen essays by different scholars who work in widely scattered parts of the world strangely none of them is indian though mark laing one of the editors taught in pune for several years twelve other writers contribute brief tributes to the influence newbigin had and continues to have on them again none of them is indian but they include vinoth ramachandra a sri lankan author it is impossible here to do justice to the breadth and richness of the insights drawn from newbigin himself and from reflection on his writings many of the issues that he had to think through are just as relevant today as a student he was profoundly influenced by a vision of the cross spanning the space between heaven and earth the centrality of the cross never left him he insisted that the church in its mission must be prepared to follow the way of the cross he argued that it is the cross that marks the essential difference between islam and christianity `the prophet rode into mecca to conquer jesus rode into jerusalem to die the crux lies there and that means that christians cannot use coercion in the struggle between two different ultimate faiths but struggle there must be quotation from newbigin on p.292 the witness of the local congregation is fundamental to mission the church must tell the story of the gospel that has been entrusted to her the story of jesus has significance for every aspect of life mission is absolutely integral to the nature and being of the church the benediction at the end of a church service is the commission to go and participate in god s mission to the world with regard to church unity newbigin suffered great disappointments particularly when he returned to britain he and many others had hoped that the formation of the church of south india would be the catalyst for many similar unions around the world but it was not to be.


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however he remained convinced that unity was vital for the sake of mission and the federal idea of co-operation between churches was not sufficient the church must continue to strive for visible organic unity in newbigin s view the aim of dialogue with people of other faiths was to present the gospel faithfully and authentically though it was not an alternative to evangelization he believed that dialogue enabled adherents of different faith communities to explore the possibility of common action where they shared common goals and objectives it was important for the church to acknowledge all the signs of the grace of god among people of other faiths and to live at peace with other faith communities participating with them in the task of building a just and sustainable order two contributors to the book stand out as having been greatly influenced personally one is brian mclaren a popular united states author speaker and pastor in his tribute he says that he was profoundly enriched by insights from newbigin s books and notably his interpretation of election `to be chosen by god is not a matter of exclusive privilege where one is selected to the exclusion of others rather to be chosen by god is to be chosen for service to be chosen on behalf of others to be blessed so one can bring blessing to them quotation from mclaren p.312 the other is the journalist jenny taylor who tells in her stimulating chapter how after her conversion she was given new direction in her profession by contact with newbigin s writings particularly his insistence that christians should make theology public and not shrink from contributing in the public arena she gives details of three notable episodes in which she was able to use her skills to give the press the details of a mission family killed in an air crash to enlighten bernard levin who had been strangely ignorant of modern persecution of christians to break the silence about the abduction of children by the lord s resistance army in northern uganda jenny knew newbigin personally and gave him comfort on the day he died this is a comprehensive detailed scholarly work a massive testimony to a growing recognition of newbigin s greatness edward burrows


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medical work in bangladesh this is an extract from the partner plan letter of gillian rose a missionary nurse in bollobhpur bangladesh april 20 saturday found us at our karpasdanga village centre for an afternoon s teaching for a group of village women there was a lot of activity and it was all great fun and they managed to learn more about how to keep themselves and their families well karpasdanga is our biggest and busiest village clinic with 10 maternity beds 2 cabins for those who wish to pay for a private room and is once again being run by bollobhpur trained experienced midwife mrs lakhi mondol and her husband hebol and the girls in training spend time in rotation learning to care for and deliver women in a village situation and on tuesdays they are joined by a team from the hospital when up to 100 and more general patients receive care and treatment and crowds of expectant mums come for their routine antenatal care michael and a team of his students from the laboratory bring basic blood and urine tests and the clinic is very popular and well attended people especially diabetic patients are grateful to have the service right on their doorsteps rather than having to make an expensive trip to the town and pay heavy fees to private doctors for care for karpasdanga is one of the many villages adjacent to the border with india and being a remote border area has very few facilities for health care karpasdanga village lies eleven miles away from bollobhpur hospital


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extracts from the letters of missionaries working in pakistan and bangladesh susan clark through the methodist church works with the women development service society in lahore pakistan she writes:lahore has suffered a measles outbreak and many children have died through the doctor who provides clinics at baath health centre two immunisation teams visited schools in the area to vaccinate all the children they are very professional and the children received their injections despite some tears we are now at the height of summer may and june have been extremely hot and there were very high temperatures for just over a week at the end of may i take some comfort that everyone finds the heat tiring and difficult to work in just as i do air conditioning and fans ease the situation but the electricity has to be on for them to work load shedding is very much an issue pakistan needs electricity gas and water to be reliable and available i am frequently told that to be pakistani one has to be prepared to accept shortages of these the office purchased a generator to enable the tailors to keep working they are making school uniforms which are to be sold as income generation the transition between mains and generator supplies causes the office to be plunged into darkness and none of the fans work until someone changes the supply switch we all scramble when the electricity is on to recharge our computers and other devices provided the electricity is reasonably frequent and of a good enough voltage to work the air conditioning i find i can cope okay having enough water for showers also helps james pender who worked as an advisor with the church of bangladesh writes of his work such as helping write project proposals for various donors that brought in around £500,000 hundreds of arsenic containing tubewells tested and marked an anti-human trafficking project started which helped over 100 previously sexually


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exploited and abused young women and girls achieve a measure of rehabilitation new climate change adaptation projects pioneering new methods to help people to live well despite deteriorating trends a book on climate change published speaking at various workshops around the world most recently a day-workshop for a u.s mission organisation in bangkok attending important christian environmental conferences in india kenya and jamaica in almost everything i have done i have been part of some dedicated teams their names will never be known internationally but they are `the people at the coal-face fieldworkers community-organisers tailoring trainers teachers health workers who are committed to the people they are serving through microcredit clinics schools self-help groups training sessions and other activities truly it is not the bishops director or project managers despite their best contributions that have made the projects that seek to uplift the poor of bangladesh that i have been involved in a success much less me but the service of the frontline junior staff it is them who will be remembered by the poorest and the most vulnerable that have received various kinds of support now i am doing all of those things again but i am working with leprosy mission country directors and senior staff at offices in nepal myanmar burma bangladesh and sri lanka i am seeing the poorest people in other communities developing leprosy due to their poor immunity linked to poor nutrition and living conditions which can lead to serious disabilities likewise we are seeking to prevent the disease spread through identification of cases treatment as well as seeking to improve the living conditions and livelihoods of those affected.


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bishop kenneth gill died february 16 2013 aged 80 years a tribute by rev donald frith at the funeral service kenneth was born and brought up in yorkshire and he worked in newcastle and retired to scotland but his heart was in india in the better years of his retirement he would sit in his favourite chair in the conservatory pipe in hand but in his mind he was miles away and you only had to mention india to see him become animated he went to south india as a methodist minister together with edna in 1957and began life in bangalore the capital of what was then the state of mysore later to be known as karnataka he was ordained into the church of south india which is a united church comprising anglican methodist reformed and presbyterian traditions it was significant that on arrival he was ordained deacon at st marks cathedral anglican and presbyter at st andrews church of a church of scotland tradition their first task was to learn the main local language which was kanarese and this they did and before too long he could converse with local people and lead services in the language after four months they were then transferred to hassan 120 miles west of bangalore where he had responsibility not only for the town but also for a wide very pleasant rural area bordering the coffee plantations of coorg there they lived in a large but antiquated bungalow with few modern amenities bath water had to be heated over a wood fire outside the house and then carried inside in containers and cooking was largely done over a kerosene stove during their time in hassan paul kathryn and lynda were all born in 1957 they were transferred from hassan to tumkur a district headquarters town some 40 miles north of bangalore and here kenneth assumed responsibility for not only churches but also a boys boarding home a farm and a workshop which produced quality furniture it also had its own small theological college.


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in 1972 the very large mysore diocese was split into three and kenneth was elected to be the bishop of what was then known as the karnataka central diocese based on bangalore during his time as bishop the church grew in numbers new churches were built many new social institutions came into being and the city of bangalore experienced enormous population growth and rapid expansion when kenneth became bishop the diocese had not only many churches but also large schools hospitals boarding homes clinics and evangelistic and social outreach programmes and also the united theological college the largest of its kind in asia kenneth was the right person to have this responsibility as he had the practical organisational skills needed to manage what were often very complex and difficult situations looking back over his years as bishop i can see the following qualities:he was a fine organiser he knew the constitution inside out and he knew how to chair a meeting well he always said that he was reluctant to take votes but instead always tried to look for a consensus his colleagues have said he administered with a human touch he encouraged his presbyters especially the younger ones and several eventually reached key senior positions in the church of south india he inspired them to see their ministries in terms of evangelism and social justice he pioneered women s ministry in the diocese often against opposition from traditionalists and he was proud of those who came forward for ordination .he worked to make provision for housing and pensions for retired presbyters who often had to end their days in impoverished circumstances he worked to support many social outreach programmes that aimed to get alongside the poorest of the poor and one good example was the


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training programme for leaders of children s crèches which were situated in slums where edna played the leading role perhaps his greatest contribution was the way in which he held the diocese together in the face of much potential disharmony all churches have their ecclesiastical politics and in india it is so often open and aggressive and very nasty with people rushing to litigation over the slightest difference kenneth had to deal with a diocese in which there were fundamental splits between tamil speaking and kanarese speaking christians each wanting power and there were also the subtle differences which are part of the complex and intricate indian caste system he suffered many unpleasant personal attacks there were threats against him and his family in the end many of his enemies became friends over the years in india he acquired many skills he learned to plan and design and build new properties he discovered how to do accounts and make the books balance he learned a lot about farming and animal husbandry he could take a car engine to pieces and put it together again ­ a valuable skill in india where breakdowns miles away from anywhere were very common on one occasion he was called to a village where a wild panther was causing fear and disruption and with a rather antiquated shot gun he managed to dispatch it he wrote histories of the tumkur institution and also the definitive history of the diocese from its earliest days and partly because of these and other publications he was awarded a lambeth honorary masters degree and on his final visit to india an honorary degree of doctorate of divinity by the university of serampore ando so we could go on his little autobiography was entitled a multi-faceted ministry and what i have said shows some of these facets never experienced edna s cooking especially her indian food so kenneth the methodist minister kenneth the missionary kenneth the bishop but above all kenneth the man this is who we will remember and thank god for.



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