Coventry Welcomes Canterbury

As we waited for the Archbishop of Canterbury to arrive we were entertained by English Chamber music and then by Congolese drummers. Then his arrival at the Welcome Centre for an evening with Coventry’s new communities was greeted by three Romanian children singing “Amazing Grace” to a bagpipe accompaniment followed by “You Raise Me Up,” both in Romanian! The entertainment continued with Sikh sacred music, Hindu and Tamil dancers, a fusion of Bollywood, Bhangra dance, an Afghan children’s choir and the Drummers from the Refugee & Migrant Centre’s Mens Group. All enjoyed by an audience representing the many nations of the world who have found a new home in Coventry.

The highlight of the evening was a speech of welcome from Sabir Zazai who arrived here twelve years ago having fled Afghanistan and the response from Rowan Williams. As Sabir learnt English he also learnt that he had been settled in a City of Peace and Reconciliation, he met people who welcomed and encouraged him, who gave him hope for a better future. Sabir is now proud to be a Coventrian and is involved in a number of organisations who look to provide the same welcome, hope and sanctuary that he has enjoyed. The Archbishop responded by telling the story of Elijah and widow at Zarephath,(1 Kings 17) how in sharing the last of her flour and oil with a stranger she was blessed with more. He linked that to the wish of some to meet austerity by giving less, but Scripture and experience teaches us that the more generous we are the more we will receive and the better will be our own sense of belonging to a place of welcome. He spoke warmly of Coventry as a place that has welcomed and hoped that it would continue to a be place where people could enjoy peace, reconciliation, hope and sanctuary.

In sharing that wish I have become more involved in the steering group for City of Sanctuary as part of the pledge that St. Columba’s and Wyken made to welcome and include in our activities, those who seek sanctuary in our city. The aims of City of Sanctuary are:-

  • Promoting the inclusion and welfare of refugees and asylum-seekers by encouraging public, commercial and voluntary organisations to make a commitment to provide welcome and safety within Coventry ʻCity of Sanctuaryʼ.
  • Facilitating new and established networks; encouraging and supporting local communities, businesses and organisations in welcoming and assisting asylum-seekers and refugees.
  • Publicising and celebrating the contribution of asylum-seekers and refugees to their local communities and to UK society and culture. Challenging hostility and discrimination against them.

The meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury was a great opportunity to celebrate the contribution that migrants have always made to Coventry and encourage those who are newly arrived that this is a City where they can belong and contribute.

As with any good party, we continued with food Tamil and Congolese in my case – but there was lots more to enjoy. May we each enjoy the welcome we give and the welcome we receive.

Be blessed


Say Hello

On Sunday we said goodbye to Say “Hello!” until we probably do it all again at Stoke URC in the first week of August. We had great fun, our 9 children were a bit swamped by our 19 leaders but it meant that they had lots of help and attention and our leaders ranging in age from 13 to 70 something learnt that they can work with children, lead games, create music and big art.

We began with Moses, approaching the burning bush, learning what it can mean when God says “Hello!” We listened to Jesus teaching his disciples how to pray and we prayed with them, “Our Father in heaven ….” and we asked the question, “Who is my neighbour?” with a couple of dramatic retellings of the Samaritan story before serving coffee and cakes to parents and friends.

Valentines Day

During 2010 Stoke United Reformed Church are looking to celebrate the role we have played in peoples lives over the years. This year Valentines Day falls on a Sunday and so we have decided to invite people who have been married at Harefield Road (or elsewhere) to join with us that morning to give thanks for their relationship and perhaps take part in a renewal of marriage vows.
Our service starts at 11:15 am, although people tend to gather from just before 11.00 am for coffee and to share news. The service will last for about an hour and will be led by our Minister Craig Muir. 

However long it is since you were last in the church, it would be lovely to see you on this or any other occasion.

Lent 2010

Changing Stables

Changing Stables Poster.001

Gathering After Eve for the Autumn

A new programme for the Autumn includes Changing Stables a series of Advent/pre-Christmas gatherings for all the City of Coventry United Reformed Churches – go to the Gathering After Eve page for full details.

Changing Worship Times

From 13 September Wyken and Stoke are going to be changing their Sunday morning worship times so as to enable the Minister to lead worship with each congregation twice a month.

Wyken will begin at 10.00 am and Stoke at 11.15am, with Coffee and chat BEFORE the service from about 10.45am. In addition Wyken’s Communion service on the 4th Sunday of each month will be an All Age Service – aiming to be contemporary and relevant to everyone.

We will review this arrangement at our January Church Meetings but will continue to at least Easter 2010.