We value of our relationships within the wider church, local community and with partners across the world is mission, social concern and evangelism.
We are a part of the North Cambridge deanery in the Diocese of Ely.
We also work with other churches in Churches Together in Central Cambridge, with the Deans and Chaplains of the University of Cambridge and also with the Chaplaincy to People at Work.
In the city we have close contacts with the City Council, and host several civic services, including the Chevin Sermon, which traditionally takes place on the second Sunday of October, and service of Remembrance on Remembrance Sunday.
The Wider Concerns Committee is responsible for developing our work with partners in mission, raising funds and providing information and education for the congregation. This ensures that we maintain a global dimension to our concern and our ministry.
Wider Concerns Partnership
The Great St. Mary’s Parochial Church Council, as part of its wider ministry/outreach, is involved in an innovative partnership scheme with the St. Matthew’s Children’s Fund in Ethiopia which is pioneering new approaches to community development and care of orphans - Partners for Change - believes that all communities – however deprived – have the capacity to bring change, hope and life. Their remarkable work is helping local people take the initiative and empower their own lives; exploring how communities can grow and develop. Partners for Change is develop relationships with those in Ethiopia, based on mutual respect, a desire to learn, and the enjoyment of meeting and getting to know new people and places. See the website www.pfcethiopia.org
Wider Concerns Committee
Over recent months we have been involved in the following social initiatives:
(a) Nighthaven project; we hosted one of the 4 successful experimental evenings with meal, conversation and overnight accommodation in February 2013. We are involved in follow up discussions about Cambridge churches providing overflow overnight accommodation in subsequent winters.
(b) Homelessness: supporting local organisations including the City Foodbank, Jimmy’s Night Shelter, Winter Comfort, Whithworth House and also Romsey Mill and Home Start, working with marginalised families and young people.
(c) Mental health issues: following a series of seminars on mental illness, supporting Lifecraft Cambridge, a resourceful self-help user-led, helping people with mental health issues with activities, helpline, counselling.
(d) Prisoners and rehabilitation: following our Lent talks, at Eastertide supporting Emmaus UK which seeks to build self-esteem, skills for work, a sense of belonging, companionship and a home; a true social enterprise, giving away its surplus to those in greater need.
(d) Cambridge Central Aid: supporting their work which provides rapid financial help to needy individuals and families in Cambridge; often moving from institutional to council accommodation; often with mental health issues.
(d) Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre: supporting their work with women and children who have suffered abuse.
We participate in the the International and Social Affairs Committee of the Churches Network (ISAC) which is small, autonomous and ecumenical, and is concerned with major social issues in Cambridge and the surrounding area.
The following are examples of some of the projects we are supporting on an ongoing basis; all have a strong Cambridge connection. It is remarkable that most have been visited over the last couple of years by members of Great St. Mary’s (GSM).
The reports from the visits pay tribute to the inspiring and pioneering work of the projects, giving new life and hope to many who are destitute, providing shelter and skills training, enabling them to earn their living and lead a reasonable life.
Many speak of the tremendous spirit of love and care of those working in our projects; many in need coming from miles around because our projects really care for them.
The strong support of GSM has enabled work to go ahead which otherwise would not have been possible. Our support means a great deal not only financially and that we care and are there in times of emergency.
We also support Amnesty International through signed letters of concern for named people undergoing persecution, using details supplied by Urgent Action notices.
Ongoing main projects see also website references below
Partners for Change see above. Examples of projects include in Ethiopia, the Negedde Woitto group, enabling orphan support, education, and health care. In Somaliland they are working amongst displaced persons living in corrugated iron shelters with no basic facilities.
Phoenix India provides shelter, education and skills training for street children.
Institute for Rural Health Studies in India provides vital health care and training in poor, often remote, villages near Hyderabad. It also helps provide for hospital care to which a number of UK medical. persons give their time free of charge.
Medical Support in Romania (MSR) pioneers medical support and training. Many doctors from Cambridge visit and give their time and expertise free. Romanians also visit GSM.
St Luke’s Hospital, Chilema, Malawi meet the tremendous challenges of poverty, disease and countless orphans. Their work includes training nurses, providing basic facilities and sponsoring free beds for orphans.
St. Matthew’s Children Fund, Ethiopia is pioneering new approaches to community development and care of orphans. Their remarkable work is helping local people take the initiative and empower their own lives; exploring how communities can grow and develop (see also above).
Friends of Ethiopian Children in Need (FECN) provide shelter, education and skills training for street children, one parent families and orphans.
Zimbabwe schools grow their own food to feed the children, take in and educate many orphans, and are the focal point for the community for miles around.
Delhi Brotherhood Father Daniel and the brotherhood work with many paid and voluntary helpers to provide shelter, medical care, training and education for the very poor.
Kids for Kids, North Darfur, Sudan works in 60 villages, lifting whole communities out of abject poverty; giving them a real chance in life, and now providing basic education.
Diocese of Egypt is doing remarkable work with refugees and with those with partial hearing.
Deaf School in Jordan which is giving vital support and education without which many would have no means of communication, also helping Syrian deaf children refugees.
Practical Action providing Micro-Hydro Electricity in Malawi – Giving Power to Rural Communities. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the World. 85% of people live in rural communities and only 1% of these have access to electricity.
Goodwill Children’s Home, India aims to provide a real home and education for orphans.
Church Urban Fund tackles poverty and injustice, bringing hope and renewal and healing the ‘brokeness’.
Red2Green runs projects in Cambridgeshire providing educational, work and leisure opportunities for over 600 people with a range of disabilities, including mental heath problems, learning disabilities, sensory impairments, physical disability and social communication disorders. They learn skills to further their independent living and help them gain jobs.
Other projects supported:
Jean Vanier Centre – Zimbabwe provides a home and skills training for disabled people. X2008.
Alzheimer’s Society Cambridge supports part-time workers and volunteers who provide vital practical and emotional support to families coping with relatives who have this very distressing and incurable illness.