Spurgeon’s College launches campaign to record faith groups’ contributions to the COVID effort for future generations

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London: (Hannah Chowdhry) Spurgeon’s College, a leading theological institution, has launched its #FaithInCommunity campaign to reflect

on and record the contributions of the faith community during the COVID-19 crisis. The campaign seeks to

collate these contributions which will be submitted to the British Library as an official record – creating a piece

of history for future generations.

From food bank support to community leadership and volunteering, faith organisations and groups across

the country have provided much needed support to their local areas throughout the crisis. This campaign

calls on faith organisations to share these efforts using an online form hosted by Spurgeon’s College.

The campaign forms an exciting opportunity for the faith community to come together to document the

valuable contributions made during the crisis for future generations to remember and reflect on.

The campaign is supported by partners from across the country and different faiths – including the Faith and

Society APPG, the Baptist Union, Leo Baeck College and the Islamic Medical Association – and comes as

the country continues the work of recovery from the pandemic and seeks to recover from the societal and

economic impacts of COVID-19. Other organisations looking to get involved with the campaign and record

their stories can submit an entry here.Speaking about the campaign, Principal of Spurgeon’s College, Philip McCormack said:

“As we work to recover from the pandemic, now is the time to take a moment and reflect on the essential

contributions made by faith communities over the past two years. By recording these efforts, we will be

creating history for future generations to learn about. We want to encourage faith organisations and groups

from all denominations and religions to take part in this campaign and share their stories.”

Welcoming the campaign, Chair of the Faith and Society APPG, Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP said:

“The All-Party Group for Faith and Society welcomes Spurgeon College’s #FaithInCommunity campaign. It

aims to highlight the outstanding contributions to our communities made by faith organisations and groups

during the pandemic. This support has included, among other things, providing food banks, clothes, shelter,

hot meals, workshops and medical advice to those most in need.

“The campaign builds on the APPG’s work to develop the Faith Covenant and strengthen the relationships

between faith organisations and their local authorities. It is vital that the work of these organisations during

the pandemic is recognised.”

Quotes from partners of the #FaithInCommunities campaign

General Secretary of the Baptist Union, Lynn Green said:

“It was humbling and inspiring to see the huge variety of ways that churches dedicated themselves to serving

their communities during the Pandemic. Existing services and relationships came into their own and many

new initiatives sprang up in response to particular community needs. I believe that the service given and

relationships forged will prove to be a legacy of love and hope that will shine brightly for many years to

come.”

Founder and project Manager for British Asian Christian Association’s ‘Meals for the Homeless’

project, Hannah Chowdhry said:

“During the first COVID-19 lockdown BACA was thrust into a pivotal role in our borough of Redbridge serving

over 65 homeless and financially hard-up people a day (many of whom supported families). Though we only

started our meals for the homeless project in mid-Jan and our foodbank in mid-Feb, within weeks we had the

4th highest food acceptance rate in East London (174 collections). We were subscribed to Fareshare and

Neighbourly but often still could not meet the food needs of struggling families and the homeless. Eventually

we partnered with two local churches, an Islamic charity and a Sikh Gurdwara who heard of our work. Local

people began providing food, clothes and furniture as gifts for those in need. By the end of the lockdown, we

had collected the 44th highest weight collection in the country (3936kg) – a real lockdown success.”

Regional Minister of the Northern Baptist Association, Paul Revill said:

“We are a family of 50 churches spread across the Northeast of England. Many were involved in supporting

local community needs, for example through running food banks, community meals, mental health support

work (Renew wellbeing cafes), environmental initiatives, providing chaplaincy or counselling, as well as

sharing the hope and confidence which a faith in Jesus Christ can bring. During the lockdowns many churches found creative ways of continuing to support those in need in their local communities, often

adapting their social care to the restrictions of lockdowns. Some opened their buildings to offer food for

visitors to take away, even while the worship services were not taking place on the premises; others offered

their buildings as prayer spaces for reflection; many church people volunteered as part of the local authority

pandemic response; those in chaplaincy roles continued their pastoral work online; health service chaplains’

work became more focussed on supporting NHS staff as contact with patients was more restricted. Based

by the numbers of views registered, many churches’ acts of worship and prayer which were recorded or live

streamed on the web were appreciated widely beyond the Christian community.”

Chair of Leo Baeck College, Stephen Herman:

“Leo Baeck College took our daily morning service online almost immediately after we closed the College in

March 2020. There is no other daily morning service within the progressive Jewish community in the UK and

making it more widely available was hugely appreciated by those who felt the need to attend. The expertise

gained by our students has positively fed into their congregational work to everyone’s benefit.”

Assistant Secretary General of The Muslim Council of Britain, Dr Muhammad Wajid Akhter:

“Here at the Muslim Council of Britain, we brought unity to the fight against the pandemic by bringing together

various Muslim organisations with different specialities so we could provide Muslim communities clear,

consistent and consensus advice during this difficult time. The main public health lesson we learnt is that the

messenger is as important as the message.”

British Islamic Medical Association

“The British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) is a voluntary organisation containing many of the healthcare

professionals who have been at the frontline of the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working alongside

colleagues and members of the Muslim community, BIMA has produced and disseminated information

regarding a number of aspects of the pandemic, from medical advice to guidance regarding the rituals around

the time of dying and how to approach COVID-19 in the context of the fasting month of Ramadan. Following

the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccines, BIMA has played a role in helping to increase the uptake of the

vaccine within Muslim communities, producing slide shows and participating in webinars to help members of

the public and health professionals understand the medical and Islamic advice regarding the vaccines. We

hope the trust we have gained during the pandemic will help us to continue to promote positive health and

wellbeing in the communities we serve in the years to come.”

Croydon Churches Forum

“On behalf of the Croydon Churches Forum, I’m delighted to offer our full support to this very timely campaign,

from which I’m sure all our churches and communities will benefit. Over the years, we have seen with great

pleasure the extraordinary number of Church-related groups and other faith-based organisations, working for

the benefit of the wider community and particularly for those most in need. Generally, this takes place quietly,

out of sight of public attention — and does not always receive the recognition it deserves. The

#FaithInCommunity campaign will, I’m sure, go a considerable way to redress this situation and to give

encouragement to all those who are engaged in work of this sort.”

Hearts of England Baptist Association

‘Over the past 2 years we have worked closely with the 158 Baptist Churches across the West Midlands, to

walk with them and to encouraged them during a challenging time. In particular, we have sought to encourage

the churches to engage with their communities using their skills, gifts and passion to make a difference,

especially a difference for those who have found the restrictions difficult.”

Belfast Islamic Centre (BIC)

“Belfast Islamic Centre (BIC) is a charity organisation establish in 1978 to serve the Muslim community,

promote mutual understanding and help integrate the Muslim community in the wider society. Working with

the public sector as well as civil society BIC acted as one of the main hubs for the Muslim community during

Covid-19 Pandemic. BIC gathered the first-hand information in relation to staying safe and in turn

disseminated this information to the Muslim community through our social media platforms. BIC helped

members of the Muslim community especially those with language barrier to book Covid test and produced

information on Covid tests and vaccination Centres for non-English speakers. BIC has had a team to help

those who are self-isolated with their basic needs. Also, BIC initiated Baraka Kitchen for collecting and

distributing food for those affected by the pandemic, especially those who live in hostels with limited means

of support. Finally, BIC endeavoured to provide the community with virtual pastoral care for the community

to minimize contact on one hand, yet to stay connected on the other hand.”

North Western BA

“Despite the unexpected and dramatic arrival of unprecedented change, it has been encouraging to recognise

not only the resilience of many of our church communities, but their instinct to reach out in support of their

communities. In many cases, worship spaces became foodbanks, community hubs and the like, and by

working together to develop shared online gatherings, we also released many leaders and church members

to engage in gestures of practical support for those isolated in their local community. Alongside this, we

retained that ongoing pastoral responsibility to support those bereaved and troubled through Covid’s direct

impact. While local churches have limited resources and expertise, this is often compensated for by a

longstanding presence, understanding and commitment to local neighbourhoods.”

British Pakistani

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"Trial of Pakistani Christian Nation" By Nazir S Bhatti

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