' News from different churches never ceases to fascinate me. How about the newspaper item about a northern vicar who "'reported an increased number of communicants during the year. He also stated that the death-watch beetle had been confirmed in the church."
Yes indeed, that was a fairly feeble introduction to a genuine piece of church information. I refer to a most interesting CTS pamphlet with the title "One Parish, One World" and recommend it to one and all with real, unsolicited and rewarded-onlyin-heaven enthusiasm.
It is the story of how one Midlands parish responded to the message of Populorum Progressio, learned to think of the world as one family, and the fatherhood of God as something extending well
beyond official parish boundaries.
The story has at its start the interesting phrase "after numerous meetings and intense discussions" which must mean that all those in the parish who wanted to be were fully involved from the word go. The "One World" vision cannot have been an imposition from on top.
The results are staggering. Does anyone in the parish ever sleep? Since 19.67 from a parish of 1,600 people £30,000 in cash has been sent to on-going schemes of relief in the Third World, especially India. Over
f100,000's worth of medicines etc. collected by 50 collectors from 300 doctors is sent each year to hospitals and clinics abroad.
When fish on Fridays ceased to he the working rule, the parish took to putting the cash saved by other acts of selfdenial into a box. The box produces about £60 p.w. and other collections have not been affected. In fact diocesan obligations have been honoured and the church debt has actually been reduced by £30,000 over recent years.
You may suggest that the pp
has struck North Sea Oil in his back garden. Not so. Moreover. the parish vision goes beyond relief to the ordinary poor and out to the poor behind bars. Every month the names of three prisoners of conscience go up on the parish board. One from the "West," one from the Corn.munist bloc, and one from nonaligned countries.
Last Christmas 9.000 cards went out to prisoners in 24 countries, and great was parish joy when in July 1973 an Angolan priest, one of "their" prisoners, was released. But why should I tell you more when you can read all about it yourself? The lesson is that God's family lives in one world, and that in every parish there is far more imagination and energy than most of us professionals realise.