A Word from the Centre of Concern… “The Lord’s will be done”

Bev Sanderson

When Reverend Claire approached me to write this week’s newsletter as an opportunity to explain what the Centre of Concern is involved in, my immediate reaction was “you must be joking!!! But on reading Acts 21:14 “The Lord’s will be done”, in our staff prayers this week, it prompted me to write this on my 1-year anniversary of being employed at St John’s as Co-ordinator of the Centre of Concern.
 In October 2020, Revd Angela Brown approached Dave and I to take over the organizing of the 9 Lessons and Carol Service held at St John’s in December of each year. Having no musical background and being tone deaf, I was very reluctant to take on this task. Revd Mark Derry said with Covid-19 restrictions it was unlikely to take place. Famous last words!!!! But what a blessing it was to be part of this service during the height of Covid, as a week later the country was in shutdown. It was a huge lesson to learn, to open your heart to new opportunities as the “The Lord’s will was done”.In June 2021 I received an unexpected call from Revd Mark Derry, asking if I would be interested in the position of Co-ordinator of the CoC. I believe that if I hadn’t taken up the challenge to do the 9 Lessons and Carol Service, Mark would not have gotten to know me.   As Dave and I both knew this was “The Lord’s will for me” and was going to be my dream job, we had to trust that He would provide a way financially.  The Lord provided exactly what was needed, the right amounts at the right time.  When I started on the 1st October, Revd Mark had already left for Doha.  I had the wonderful opportunity to work under Revd Rob Penrith for 3 months and I and really got to know the beautiful soul and humour of this amazing man. Although I had an outline of my position, Revd Mark had reiterated that “the doors are open wide”. God sent you to us and now you can do His work, and so the journey began……I wish to thank Rose Anderson for her commitment to the CoC for the past 14 years and for sharing her knowledge of the operations. Allow me to elaborate on some of the work that the Centre of Concern is involved in.The Food 4 the needy parcel project, coordinated by Isobel and Tim Douglas-Jones, was packing an average of 242 parcels each month.  Vicky Cengani, my Assistant in the CoC, and I manage the Gate Ministry.  We have come up with a system which allows us to identify and prioritize the neediest.  We have an incredible relationship with Masifunde who have established projects in Walmer Township so we can redirect those that are able, for development training. Vicky and I work extremely well together as we both believe in empowerment and upliftment, rather than handouts, so this ministry has now been reduced to 132 parcels per month.  From January 2023 parcels will only be provided on a 3-month basis to avoid dependency.  During Covid, Jane Purchase started an incredible ministry whereby many parishioners and local community members provided about 200 loaves of bread a day for our Soup Kitchen in Walmer township.  Post-Covid, the soup kitchen is still in high demand as we continue to provide ± 190 local folk with a cup of soup from Monday to Friday, but the CoC now funds the bread as the donations have petered out.The Shoe and Shirt Project ministry was implemented in 2021 as Spar was offering school shoes for R50 with every purchase of R300 or more.  Because of purchases for our other projects, we had managed to collect 36 pairs of shoes and purchased shirts for the children at Bhongweni Primary School in Alexandria.  This will be an ongoing project, running from October to January of each year as “The Lord’s will is done”. We are pleased to say that CoC ran two twelve-week sewing courses to encourage and empower the local community for 6 and 8 ladies respectively.  This culminated in a graduation ceremony where the ladies received a certificate of attendance and showcased the skirt and tops they had made.  My heartfelt thanks go out to the 3 teachers, Bev Hancocks, Bev Willemse and Cheryl Weyer, for their enthusiasm and patience each Monday and for allowing the “the Lord’s work to be done”.  The 2023 course will be starting in mid-February and will be increased to a 15-week course which will include 3 days of entrepreneurship training on running your own business.  Our enthusiastic Ruth Project leader, Pinkie Libala was excited to open up the projects in February 2022.  The St Augustine’s project provides food and community-based work to 30 elderly people from Monday to Thursday of each week as well as home cooked meals for 20 elderly who are housebound. We thank ACVV for their incredible support as they also organize the Creative Hands Project and ACVV Games for participants over 60 years of age.   The Addo Fitness Project run on a voluntary basis by Xola Williams encourages school children to get off the streets and get fit.  We had such an incredible response to our project appeal that we were able to put together a cap, beanie, pair of running shoes, socks and t-shirt for each of the18 children.  This is the Lord at work in the Addo community and will be an ongoing project as we may consider sponsoring race entries for 2 of the talented children.The CoC, with the aid of Louise Parker has once again started selling the donated clothing on the first Thursday of the month from the CoC Hall.  The first clothing sale raised an amount of R1400.  We know “The Lord’s will is being done” as we continue to get donations of clothing from the St John’s community.  These funds are used to supplement the income for the CoC projects.  Louise also manages the “Beanies for Africa” project where parishioners are knitting beanies, baby clothes and blankets.  These are distributed to Hospice, Dora Nginza, Walmer Angel Project and Lesotho outreach.  Due to the response of our home-made items sold at the Mission Fete we have decided to continue with this ministry as it allows us to make money to fund some of our other projects.  I thank Karen Glover and her daughter Ashley for helping me sort out the CoC shelving and stock and for her commitment in sewing Wonder Bags, cutlery holders, peg bags and bodum coffee warmers.  We have had tags made with the Snapscan code on the back which allows us to sell items at St John’s and other outlets.  We wish to thank Rachelle Bakker for her enthusiasm and organisation of the CoC Golf Day to be held at Little Walmer Golf Club on Friday 21st October, we have had such a positive response to this event.   May I end off by saying we couldn’t do all the above without the commitment and support from the St John’s staff and the St John’s community.  We appreciate each and every one of you.I am constantly reminded of the reading from Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.  I am thankful each day that the “Lord’s will be done” from the CoC and its outreach programs.Bev SandersonCentre of Concern Co-Ordinator