No 7: St Cuthberts, Stockton on Tees
St Cuthbert's, Stocktonon-Tees, sends the whole of its Christmas Day collection to four members of the parish working in the Third World.
One is a priest working in Narok in Kenya as part of a Hexham and Newcastle diocese mission scheme; another, a brother, is building a cathedral in Cameroun, and a third is a medical missionary in Uganda.
Last year this collection came to £332, which is nearly three times the average weekly taking, but for us love and concern come first and money is only a sign of this.
Last year the parish was host to the Stockton and Billingham Third World Conference. It began with a "hunger lunch" at which two-thirds of those attending ate a poor man's meal and one-third ate a full lunch.
After this "experience of Third World poverty" three speakers — an Anglican, a Methodist and an agnostic — gave their experiences of working in a developing country, and the Conference ended with a local action scheme.
The parish Family Fast Days are organised by the Third World group. About 20 members also organise displays of material and information at the back of the church.
The parish is also starting a "soup-run" for people who have nowhere to stay and are living rough or are penniless alcoholics. We hope to organise this on a nightly basis.
The Diocesan Justice and
Peace group began at a conference at the pastoral centre at Burn Hall, and it now has a full commission made up of lay people, nuns and priests. It has held a number of conferences and given birth to about 90 local J and P groups. One of the commission's achievements has been to make the Third World an integral part of the diocesan schools religious syllabus. A priest once said to me: "It's time you started thinking about the next world and stopped talking to us about the Third World."
My answer to him was: "The best way to prepare for the next world is to show love and concern for the Third World here and now."