On Wednesday 9th November the world woke to the news of a new President of the United States. One whose campaign divided the world and with echoes of the Brexit campaign in the U.K. Sought to appeal to the majority often at the expense of minorities, promised to restore prosperity to segments of the population who may feel they have lost relative privilege and relative advantage over recent decades.
After the Brexit vote I felt lost, as though my whole world had shifted. My expectations for social equality, freedom of movement, protection from discrimination and various other harmful practices were at risk. My sense that I lived in a place where we valued being part of a wider world that could work together was unsettled. By achieving a small majority of votes, approximately a quarter of the population of England and Wales have changed the future for the whole of the UK. Today, almost four months on, not much has changed for me, it will take us years to exit the EU and who knows how that will look by then. I can live with this, I've signed petitions I've watched marches and I will continue to support political efforts to review the decision etc etc. But I can live with it because I have advantages, I look like I "belong" in this pretended view of Britishness.
I know a lot changed overnight for others, for those who don't look or sound like they "belong". Racially motivated hate crimes have increased as a campaign fought on anti-immigration lines justified xenophobic and racist behaviours. Anti LGBT attacks increased as politicians holding homophobic or Transphobic views became central to campaigns.
We all belong – we are all equal.
I'm sad for my friends in the USA, they are starting to see increases in already high levels of racism, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia. Here in the uk we've seen violence break out and lives lost where previously this was extremely rare. How much worse could it be in a country where such hate and oppression related violence, terror and murder is already sickeningly common.
In the coming weeks the world will find out how President Elect Donald Trump will run his administration and which of his many campaign statements will become policy. Whether we like the policies or not, whether our friends are happy or devastated, however we voted, wherever we are in the world: we need to call on everyone to stand against the hate and violence which feels legitimised - it is not ok to hate other people or to treat anyone as less than yourself. We are all the children of God.
Those of us with relative privilege need to educate ourselves as to the experiences of those who are experiencing oppression and hatred, we need to stand beside those who speak up for themselves and call out aggressions and inequalities when we see them. We need to open our eyes to see the ways in which our lives are advantaged by the inherent inequalities of our society.
Thats what we were left with following the ordination of the now Rev Peta Evans at MCC North London on Sunday (11th). The picture shows the new Rev (left) then S-J Ramage (governing board), me and Marsha Robbins (Peta's partner) following the service (and some food). A big thank you to Franke for the awesome pictures.
The service was very different form what we are used to, but that just shows the diversity that exists within our denomination, the opportunity to worship in the style and manner that the local community wants and needs. One of the great strengths of MCC is that each church has it's own flavour, it's own style and this diversity reflects the world around us.
We are truly blessed to belong to a denomination that embraces everyone and leaves no one out, that allows each of us to worship in the way that best helps us connect with God and that allows each individual to step up and do what they feel called to do, without putting fences, barriers or hoops in their way.
That's why I am and will always be MCC!
IDAHoBiT 2016 17th May 2016 at 6pm New Steine Brighton
Kim and I attended LGBT Community Safety Forum’s IDAHoBiT event in New Steine. The weather turned chilly but there was a great atmosphere, people just walking up and introducing themselves to us and chatting. It felt like a true community.
Sarah and Rory the LGBT Liaisons from Sussex Police where there and it was great to catch up with them.
Lunch Positive provided hot drinks for everyone and some (almost) healthy snacks.
The event started with three poems from Alice Denny, the poems were moving and funny but ultimately quite hard hitting.
Alice was followed by The Deputy Chief Inspector who spoke about two recent Homophobic attacks in Brighton and Hove. The encouraging news was that the perpetrators were caught due to members of the public reporting the attacks and assisting Police, it turned out that the three perpetrators (two in one attack and one in the other) were not residents of B&H. He went on to speak about the Police commitment to supporting the LGBT community and he mentioned that the Headquarters had that morning raised the rainbow flag as an overt show of support and commitment.
He was followed by the new mayor of B&H who spoke about the diversity of the city and how welcoming it is.
Then we were treated to some songs by The Rainbow Chorus which was a great end to a truly community event.
I am so glad MCC Brighton could be there as a part of the community.
Churches Together in Central brighton held a prayer breakfast on 16th January 2016. The breakfast began with a time of worship and prayer, Michael Lloyd (Major Salvation Army) gave the welcome and introduction, Msgnr Jerome Lloyd (Cherubs Kitchen) played the music and gave a short reflection, Alex Mabbs (Pastor - URC Brighthelm) read for us and i did the prayers. It was a great time of worship and fellowship. Elizabeth Lloyd (Major Salvation Army) not only kept the IT under control but excelled at it. The time of worship was followed by a hearty breakfast prepared by volunteers from the Salvation Army during whichtimewe were all encouraged to sit withpeople we didnt know and talk about what we are doing, our faith, our churches and anything else, it was a great time of sharing. There was a brief period of business during which Nigel Utting (Treasurer CTiCB) gave the financial report and Robin Selmes (Chair CTiCB) spoke about the plans for 2016. It was a great morning and brought together people from many different churches and traditions for a single purpose.
(Church Leader MCC Brighton)
We are now very involved with Sanctuary On Sea the organisation that is looking at ways to support refugees in Europe and most importantly here in Brighton and Hove. I am on the management committee and the liaison between them and UFMCC, as well as the liaison betweenthem and CTiCB. I hope that with this partnership we will be able to make even more of a difference not only here in our own communities but in also Europe. My belief is that this partnership will open up many more opportunities for our members to become involved in issues and projects that they truly care about and that will be a practical example of God's love.
On 28th November 2015 the World Aids Day Service will be held in Dorset Gardens Methodist Church. The event will start at 10 am with drinks and conversation. The service will start at 1030 and run until 1130. Thre will be a brunch after the service and the chance tfor more conversatiuon. MCC Brighton is helping to organise and run the service this year and we look forward to seeing many of you there.
MCC Brighton joined the Pride parade with a well dressed car and some very enthusiastic walkers. It was a great day and even a bomb threat could not dampen their spirits. Everyone had a great time, the atmosphere was awesome and a truly incredible numbers of stickers were applied. The picture to the left shows our intrepid walkers (fm Lto R: Kim Pawley, Francesca Smith, Sarah Barber, Laurence Taylor) with Kirsty Smithers, who organised MCC Brighton's participation in Pride this year,taking the picture. The Inclusivity Cross hit the streets and was a huge draw.
WELL DONE TO ALL WHO TOOK PART!
Yes it is now official. We now meet in the Hanover Room of The Brighthelm Centre. This is very exciting for all of us as it places us where we wanted to be - the very centre of Brighton. We held our first service in our new home at 6pm on 19th July and what a great service it was. Everyone had a great time, lots of smiles, lots of moving to the music and most of all a real feeling of joy filled the place.
Following the service we had our EGM which began with a brilliant presentation from our very own Phoebe Sewell on the results of the discernment process and the recommendations made by the team. These were voted on and agreed by the membership. Look out for more details on what this means for the church and for each and everyone of us. This is an incredibly exciting time for MCC Brighton and is the result of the true commitment of all of the attendees. This could not have happened without the full engagement of everyone in the church.
Look out for further details of the events, guests and services we have lined up and are furiously planning. This is the start of the bright new future of MCC Brighton.
BRING IT ON!
On the 13th June 2015 The Rainbow Chorus and The Brighton Gay Mens Chorus hosted Hand-in-Hand 2015 at the Dome Theatre in Brighton. This was the second Hand-in-Hand event for LGBT choirs from across the UK and Ireland. There were some great workshops during the day, great food as well as hot drinks provided by Lunch Positive and it ended with a wonderful concert, showcasing the main choirs but was also a very funny, moving and a truly memorable experience for all those attending. Particular highlights for us were the 5 acapella singing sisters from Yorkshire, the three single tenors from Ireland and of course the three main Brighton choirs.
MCC Brighton was there supporting Lunch Positive, working hard to feed and water approximately 500 people. Everyone there were not only very complimentary about the food but showed a true interest and admiration for the work that Lunch Positive do in our community.
It was also great to see several of our old friends performing in choirs and volunteering throughout the day.
Happy Birthday Lunch Positive!
On Saturday (6/6/15), a fabulous garden party was laid on in the Dorset Gardens Peace Park to celebrate Lunch Positive’s 6th anniversary.
Lunch Positive’s many volunteers worked together under Gary’s direction to make it a day to remember: erecting and decorating the marquee, setting up the gas burners for the hot food, putting out all the chairs and assembling the tables, displaying the welcoming posters and last but definitely not least, preparing and cooking all the food, both earlier in the week and throughout Saturday morning. Enough to feed an army!
The trickiest task of the day proved to be transporting the prepared food from the kitchen in Dorset Gardens Methodist Church down the steep slope of rough ground into the Peace Park and to the display tables without spillage! All the many dishes safely delivered and laid out on the large tables looked splendid! Definitely what my Grandmother would have called “a lovely spread”.
The dish of the day, by popular demand, was the hot vegetarian Thai curry and there was a bit of a contest over the last portion! The vast majority of the various items on offer were vegetarian; appreciated by the diners but obviously a great disappointment to the parade of dogs, notionally on “walkies” but determined to nose out any meaty treats on offer, despite embarrassed entreaties from their walkers.
I thought that one of the better behaved dogs was possibly from a rare breed or what’s called “a breed under threat”, one I have never encountered before. I had a chat with the owner and she confirmed the dog was indeed a Clumber Spaniel and as far as she knew the only one in Sussex! I asked the dog’s name and she said “Ripley”. My mouth must have dropped open as I thought ‘Why on earth would you name your beloved and precious dog after a fictional serial killer?’ because she immediately said “No - not that one! Ripley who fought the Alien! She’s a she!” Just goes to show - you should never make assumptions.
The promised rainstorms never turned up. Instead, the sun graced the event and added great cheer to the whole celebration. There was a gusty wind and it was advisable to hang on tight to your emptying paper plate as a few not-quite-finished dinners took to the air and flew like frisbees. Never mind - a good excuse for second helpings!
The garden party was really well supported. It was great to see so many of the lunch club regulars there and friends from HIV services and LGBT community groups. Justin, who had been doing sterling work dishing out the hot food, went to greet his fellow singers in The Rainbow Chorus as they came to join us before their scheduled rehearsal. Phelim Mac Cafferty from the Council’s Green Group attended and, of course, MCC Brighton was well represented as Suzy, Kim, SJ, Kirsty, Andrew and I were there.
To top it all, as the event was due to wind down, The Rainbow Chorus sang “Happy Birthday” to Lunch Positive in beautiful harmony. A perfect end to a lovely day.
An Anniversary Well Celebrated!
WORSHIP CONVERSATIONS 2015
S-J and I attended the Worship Conversations which followed on from Big Church Day Out at Wiston house. It was a fantastic two days of worship and discussions with some of the biggest names in worship today. We heard from Gungor, Bethel Music, Martin Smith, Jason Upton, Matt Maher and others. As well as the awesome worship there were seminars from the leaders which were not only really useful for anyone involved in leadership but were also incredibly funny, moving and insightful. To top it all we went for a walk up to Chanctonbury Ring, where we sang some songs and prayed. It was an incredibly moving moment as well as good exercise and great fun. All-in-all those two days were some of the best i have ever had and i know they changed both SJ and I in many ways. A huge thank you to the people named above for showing that being vulnerable as a leader is a strength not a weakness and that to be authentic in worship you only need to be the person God made you to be.
From the Sublime to the Ridiculous and Very Enjoyable It Was Too!
Not often in life does one fly directly from the comfort of a gentle blessing in a light airy church to the blast of teeth-rattling music in a barely-lit subterranean comedy club but that’s precisely what Suzy, SJ, Andrew and I did after service last Sunday evening (03-05-2015). As a fantastic “thank you”, Lunch Positive was treating its volunteers to a night out of stand-up comedy at “Bent Double” at the Komedia Downstairs.
As we arrived “hot-foot” from the MMC Brighton Sunday service, whisked there in record time courtesy of Andrew and SJ. We were greeted outside by Gary and inside, downstairs by Phil. It was great to see so many faces from the “kitchen crew” and the “mess hall mob” all chatting together as we rarely have time to socialise on “Lunch” days. I say “chatting”, communicating at full volume plus lip reading and sign language might be more accurate!
The company was excellent as was the food, though if you are one who “eats with the eyes” you would do well to order, as the sensible did, so your meal arrives in the interval. Mine arrived as the lights went down. Let me just say: stabbing away with your fork in the dark at a heavily dressed goats cheese salad when all you can see on your plate are 50 shades of grey is a frustrating and messy business!
The Komedia Downstairs was laid out like a tightly packed Beer Keller with rows of long tables, end on to the small stage. The Lunch Positive volunteers sat at two tables furthest from the stage but nearest to the bar! Forward planning? Lucky on both counts maybe as the show was hosted by Zoe Lyons who had us all falling about with her sharply mocking Q&A session directed at the sitting ducks at the front; one hen and two stag parties!
Three stand-up acts followed and all were hilarious and very different in style but the hit of the night was undoubtedly the octogenarian, San Franciscan Lynne Ruth Miller, whose take on the frailties of old age and the social changes she’s seen in her lifetime somehow managed to be both outrageously funny and, through her bravery in revealing her vulnerabilities, very touching.
A wonderful night out!
Thank you Gary and Phil.
And, oh, may we all be so fabulous at 80!
17-04-2015 Kings Club
As part of our aim to support groups in our local community we volunteered at Kings Club. Kings Club is a time of fun, games and fellowship for young children run by One Church at Gloucester Place. Barbara and Donna were the leaders there this Friday and Barbara has been running the club for a number of years. It was a great deal of fun from the very start to the very end. I have never laughed so much in an evening. We played games, had a time of sharing individual stories and news, talked about the meaning of Easter and then more games and ended with us all sitting in a circle and saying something we thanked God for. It was an incredible experience. Thank you to Barbara and Donna for making me feel so welcome but most of all a huge thank you to the kids who really made me a part of the crew. ANDREW RAMAGE
12-04-2015 LUNCH POSITIVE SUNDAY LUNCH CLUB
Sadly we came to the last day of the Sunday Lunch Clubs with Lunch Positive at Dorset Gardens. Happily it is only until Autumn and in the meantime we still support the Friday Lunch Club.
Today was a great day though. The lunch was busy and despite a slight hiccup with the hob the food was absolutely delicious and what a choice! We had Turkey, roast beef, salmon and lots of trimmings, followed by ice cream, strawberries and apple pie. The atmosphere was great, lively conversation and even a special visit from two young ladies who came with their Grandmother.
Of course there is no such thing as a free lunch but this was pretty close, right up to the moment we started clearing up. The washing up was more than ably handled by Dean, Havier and I in what was a very warm kitchen. The main room was sparkling after the attentions of Suzy, Caroline, Philip, John, Kim (means chief apparently), Emily and Charlie. All under the ever watchful eyes of Gary Pargeter.
So, having finished the business of the day we decided to have a picture of us all together. Hence the beautifully posed photo above (look out for it and more details in GScene soon). We will all miss being there on Sundays and the great friends we have made but hopefully we see them all on Fridays going forward.
09-04-2015 - Chomp Lunch Club at One Church
One Church run a lunch club during school holidays for children who qualify for school meals. This helps the families with the extra cost of having children home and also allows them to mix socially with other parents/families in similar situations, reducing the feelings of isolation many families feel at times. Andrew Ramage, Sophie Pryer, Rosie Vaz and I volunteered for this, the last Chomp of the Easter Holidays. There was fun, games, laughter and cornflake chicken (big shout out to Harry for the excellent cornflaking of the chicken) there were of course vegetables as well. In addition to the main course there was plenty of fruit, dips and nibbles. All-in-all it was great fun and we all had a good time. Sophie has stood up and volunteered to help out with another of One Church's programmes, as have Andrew and I. So watch out for future reports and breaking news on our activities in the community.
For those of you who think they might have time to offer to a community programme please follow this link ONE CHURCH for the details. Kirsty Smithers
05-04-2015 One Church Easter Morning Service on the beach
08:00 hrs on Brighton beach? Sounds like a recipe for frostbite but surprisingly it was quite mild, the sun made a few appearances and Suzy Miles, Sarah-Jane Ramage and I joined a good sized group of hardy worshippers.
There were people from America, South America and even a woman from The Navy who was due to sail the evening before but her boat was in the marina, so she joined us on the beach (all found the One Church site through the magic of google). Add to that guys from The Village MCC, a large number of One Churchers, some lively kids and a beautiful morning and you have one of the best "Sunrise" services I have attended. There was a dramatic reading of the events of Easter morning with people playing the parts of Mary Magdalene and the disciples, some great guitar playing to help us sing and some words hope from Rev Dave Steell.
All-in-all a morning worth getting up for.The guys (and gals) from One Church then provided us with very tasty hot cross buns and some nice hot coffee. There was an air of fun, joy and fellowship that had everyone smiling and i for one would not have missed it for the world. Andrew Ramage (see above trademark selfie of Suzy, SJ and I)(follow the link on our home page for more info on One Church)
04-04-2015 MCC North London Overnight Vigil
A few of us joined our sister church in North London for their Easter Vigil. As you can see from the picture it was a very spiritual and spirit-filled experience. A big thank you to them for inviting us to be a part of this truly special night. Now to get home, grab some sleep and get ready for our Easter Service this evening.
03-04-2015 Walk of Witness
We started at St Nicholas with a 20 minute service, which included a dramatic reading by characters in costume and prayers brought by Nigel Utting from The Village MCC. It was good to see both Nigel and Gerry there at the service and on the walk (with their two lovely Boxers). Following the service we all moved outside and began the walk behind a young man who really looked the part of Jesus, flanked by two Roman Guards in full regalia (see picture below).
The walk made it's way to the Old Steine via Brighthelm and the Chapel Royal. As we made our way through Brighton the reaction of those we passed was obvious, lots of pictures on phones and lots of heads turning. Clearly this walk had a huge affect on everyone.
Even though it was raining the walk was a great experience and ended at The Old Steine where we were joined by the Salvation Army Band and the walk that had come down James Street. The band played and everyone sang hymns, there was a very challenging talk about God and how the world could be healed and we finished with the sharing of the Grace.
A great feeling throughout the morning and the rain failed to dampen the spirits of those attending.