Free Churches News

Open letter in response to the Sri Lankan attacks

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We have all been shocked and saddened by the horrific terror attacks which took place on Easter Sunday in Colombo. Please find a letter to Sri Lankan communities in Britain from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP.

Please do pass it on, where appropriate, and encourage others to share it.

Meeting together....

The Free Church Education Committee met at the end of March to pray for and plan the next steps in our education strategy. We were hosted, with great welcome, at the Westhill Endowment and had an edifying time of discussion and working together. Our opening devotions, led by our Committee Chair, Julie Grove, were based on Faith Exhibit paintings by Rev Elizabeth Gray-King. You can find out more about hiring these works and other faith based pieces HERE.

Pictured are some of the members of the Free Church Education Committee

You can find out more about our work in the field of education with our Free Church members here and get your church involved in this vital work.

A Call to Action

The Free Churches Group working with the Blood Transfusion and Organ donation services facilitated a one day conference with BME Churches.

The aim of the day was to encourage more blood donors from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities to come forward to meet the needs of patients like Shaylah (See her story below) .

Certain conditions, such as sickle cell and thalassaemia, are more prevalent within these communities. And, some rare types are also only found within these communities. Patients who require regular blood transfusions benefit from receiving blood from donors with a similar ethnic background.

Shaylah

Shaylah

Shaylah has a rare condition and needs regular blood transfusions, even over Christmas, to keep her alive.

The seven year old needs blood transfusions every 3 weeks to treat the painful inherited blood disorder, sickle cell disease.

She had a stem cell transplant from her mum in April but complications mean she is unwell again and currently having regular transfusions.

Shaylah says: “It makes me feel better because sometimes I get really tired and once I get my super girl blood I feel strong like supergirl!

“Blood donors are my heroes. I would say a big big thank youuuuuu!! Thank you for being so kind and not being scared of needles like me and I would give them a cuddle for being so kind and chocolate because I love chocolate.”

Sickle cell disease is the name for a group of inherited conditions that affect the red blood cells. The most serious type is called sickle cell anaemia.

Sickle cell disease mainly affects people of African, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, Eastern Mediterranean and Asian origin. In the UK, it's particularly common in people with an African or Caribbean family background.

People with sickle cell disease produce unusually shaped red blood cells that can cause problems because they don't live as long as healthy blood cells and they can become stuck in blood vessels.

Sickle cell disease is a serious and lifelong condition, although long-term treatment can help manage many of the problems associated with it.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic donors are specifically needed right now because:

some patients who receive frequent blood transfusions need blood to be closely matched to their own

a number of blood conditions, like sickle cell disease which is treated through blood transfusions, most commonly affect black, Asian and minority ethnic people

the best match typically comes from blood donors from the same ethnic background.

Giving blood

While people from all communities and backgrounds do give blood, fewer than 5% of our blood donors who gave blood in the last year were from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

This is despite black, Asian and minority ethnic communities representing around 14% of the population. We want to try and readdress this balance.

If you have the sickle cell trait you can still become a blood donor.

For further information please visit here.

Participants also heard about the changes to the Organ Donation system – from ‘opt in’ to ‘opt out’.

From spring 2020, all adults in England will be considered potential organ donors, unless they choose to opt out or are in one of the excluded groups. This is commonly referred to as an ‘opt out’ system. You may also hear it referred to as 'Max and Keira's Law'.

What do you have to do?

If you want to be an organ donor, the best way to record your choice is to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.

If you do not want to be an organ donor, you should register a ‘refuse to donate’ decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register. This is also known as opting out.

If you are already registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register, and your decision remains the same, you should tell your family what you want.

If you want to change your decision, which is already registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register, you should amend your registration.

Whatever you decide, make sure you tell your family, so they can honour your choice.

For further information please visit here.

A WARM INVITATION TO OUR 2018 MEETING OF THE DEPUTIES

Dear Friends,

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We hope that you will join us at 6.00 pm at 27 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9HH on Thursday 8th November when we are delighted that the Rev. Joel Edwards, former leader of the Evangelical Alliance and now a Commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, will speak on “Martin Luther King Jr. - Disobeying with Civility”. You may have seen Rev Edwards as he preached at the recent “Windrush” service in Westminster Abbey.

The “Deputies” were established as elected lay people, working with a body of Ministers, in 1732 to fight for the removal of restrictions which excluded the churches and people we now call in the “Free Church” tradition from many areas of public life. London based, they argued on behalf of churches across the country. We maintain this somewhat quaint sounding Body as an annual society to honour their achievement. Free speech should never be taken for granted since it enables us to sustain our life, worship and witness. The Body also keeps alive our historic right of direct approach to the Monarch.

Today, the Free Churches Group carries out the Deputies’ functions relating to government, as we will hear during our very brief formal proceedings.

This is an open invitation to your members and Minister. It would be most helpful to know in advance of the numbers attending. Please return the registration form by post or email. Respecting our historical structure, it would be appropriate to nominate two “Deputies”, but all are welcome. Please display the poster. Our income is limited, and a small contribution would help to cover our meeting costs.

We know that Joel Edwards will have a great deal that will be of interest to say and we hope very much you will come to hear him.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Rochester Keith Salway


Please download here for invitation letter, registration form and poster.