On a cold, wintry evening, St Matthew's ACF hosted the Women's World Day of Prayer service, which this year had been written by the Cuban World Day of Prayer National Committee.
Each year a nation is asked to write a service which is then disseminated around the world. Cuba was asked to write a service with the theme Receive Children. Receive Me and by the end of the Women's World Day of Prayer they estimate that 3 million men; women and young people in 170 countries and islands, will have prayed with and for the people of Cuba. In the UK alone, some 6,000 services will have been held.
Our service, in a Church bedecked with Cuban Flags, looked both at life in Cuba through the eyes of different generations, but importantly at our own lives and the importance of encouraging participation and listening to children in our churches and wider communities. On arrival, the congregation were given a cone in which to write their name, kindly made by Elaine Johnson, and which were collected part way through the service. At the end, each person took a cone and were asked to pray for the person whose name was written within it.
Cuba has endured an economic blockade for more than 50 years and the service identified that generations of women needed to speak out to prevent the deprivation to children's health and growth that such sanctions have caused. This has caused many families to have to cope with separation of family members who have emigrated to find employment. However there was also thanks and praise for the generations living together which allowed sharing of traditions; wisdom and company.
The contribution of different generations was celebrated with the need to treat older people with respect, as well as the importance of being attentive to the voices of young people.
The final prayer resonated with us all:
We are your children, part of your beloved creation and have a place in your heart. Help us: to speak kindly and to be a forgiving community, to accept every human being as unique and worthy to God, to keep the hope in a future of justice and peace, to receive children in order that they are able to dream, laugh, dance and love without discrimination. Amen
The service ended with traditional Cuban refreshments of coffee and lemonade, supplemented by some delicious Cuban biscuits, made by Barbara White.
The Association of Church Fellowships is a diocesan wide Association whose president is the Bishop of Chester. It is an open organisation which welcomes as members all who seek to know the Christian faith better, to grow in their understanding of Church membership, to play their full part in the life and mission of the Church and to share in the fellowship which it offers.
The ACF has five aims:- Fellowship; Worship; Service; Study and Giving. It helps to make the worshipping community into a fellowship of friends and through this to draw others into the Church Family. It also encourages fellowship with the Church overseas.
At St Matthew's our meetings are held monthly, normally the first Thursday of each month, and we endeavour to create an interesting annual programme of speakers; visits and joining in worship with other ACF groups across the Diocese. The fellowship is amazing, and you can always be assured of a very warm welcome and refreshments! If you would like to join us either as a visitor or member, or just want to see what goes on please feel free to come to any of our meetings. Transport is available if this is required.
The next meeting is Thursday 4th February at 2:30pm in Church - normally our meetings are in the evening, but in January and February these are held in the afternoon. Our speaker in February is Steve Parish, Chaplain to Warrington Fire & Rescue Services
For further information, please do not hesitate to contact either Wendy Homer, Leader - Tel:261075 or Kath Holbourn, Secretary - Tel: 269063