Christmas Charities 2023
This year, we are dividing our Christmas fundraising equally between two causes: St Mary’s Urgent Repairs Fund and Friends of the Holy Land.
St Mary’s Urgent Repairs Fund
A building inspection of St Mary’s highlighted a growing need to make effective repairs to the exterior to ensure that the building remains watertight, does not deteriorate further, and is fit for purpose.
The mortar is in need of extensive repointing where it has become worn and ‘friable’ – particularly on the walls of the tower, and the south and north vestry elevations. Also needed are repairs to stonework, roof coverings, valley gutters, and miscellaneous work to the exterior décor and fabric of the building. Rainwater goods will also need overhauling, and damaged sections replaced.
The resulting project is a significant undertaking but can be achieved in phases, with Phase 1 quoted to come at a cost of around £135,000. We need a church here for the future, but it must be in good repair and well maintained. Only through our giving today will this be possible and lasting.
Friends of the Holy Land – ‘Don’t let their light go out’ appeal
Friends of the Holy Land (FHL) is a non-political Christian charity, and their mission is to secure a resilient and enduring Christian community in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and Jordan – the part of the world that Christians call the Holy Land. This year, they have launched a Christmas appeal – ‘Don’t let their light go out’ – in response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as well as the huge needs in the West Bank, and that’s what we are supporting with our donations.
We are heartbroken by the recent events in Gaza and southern Israel. Through our contacts on the ground we are doing our best to react quickly to get immediate help to those sheltering in the Christian churches and buildings, largely in Gaza City.
Friends of the Holy Land is registered as a charity locally and so operate our own bank account in country which allows us to take swift, direct action.
Currently there are around 4,000 people sheltering across the Christian churches and building around Gaza city. Those sheltering are Christians, Muslims and people of no faith. The monies we have been able to send so far have helped the Christian committee coordinating the care of so many people to buy water, food, basic medical supplies and other essentials where and when they are available.
At the same time, the situation in the West Bank is deteriorating. There are strict travel restrictions which, compounded by fear, have resulted in some intermittent food shortages of staples like flour, sugar and medications or inflated prices for these items if they are available. Those who had permits to travel for work to Israel are no longer allowed to cross the border. Tourism has shut down, so once again, those who rely on pilgrims and tourists for their income cannot earn any money. Our team in Bethlehem and the wider West Bank is still able to deliver our routine projects and grants to individuals and families, and they report that the need is increasing.
We don’t know today how the challenges for Christians in the Holy Land may evolve, but we stand ready locally to provide relief where we can with your help.
Thank you so much for whatever you are able to give – it’s much appreciated and will make a difference!