News for November 2017

Dear Friends,

You may have heard by now that I am going to Ethiopia! Not permanently, but in January I will be taking part in a Diocesan Pilgrimage. It will be led by our Area Bishop, Andrew, and the Revd Dr John Binns, Vicar of Great St Mary’s in Cambridge, the church where I was confirmed many years ago.

Both leaders come with good credentials, as they know Ethiopia very well.

You may remember that Bishop Andrew came to the Diocese of Oxford, having served as Area Bishop of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa between 2007-11 with direct responsibility for Anglican Christians in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somaliland and Somalia. Prior to that, he served as a USPG mission partner in Ethiopia from 2002 as Vicar of St Matthew’s Anglican Church in Addis Ababa.

Whilst it may seem to us that Bp Andrew has more than enough to do with 170 churches and 120 clergy in his episcopal area, this is considerably fewer than he had as Area Bishop in Ethiopia. John Binns has written on Orthodoxy, and Ethiopian Orthodoxy in particular. As well as being Vicar of Great St Mary’s he is Visiting Professor of Eastern Orthodox Studies at the University.

During our first two weeks we will be visiting some of the tourist sites and will be travelling off the beaten track. We will have opportunities to see places and meet people the normal traveller would never see. So, it’s all very exciting, and I’m very much looking forward to going. This will be my first time in Africa. I have always longed to go, so this was too good an opportunity to miss!

We have been promised the best coffee in the world(!), the chance to enjoy typical Ethiopian food, and to see what the leaders describe as ‘the extraordinary political reality of modern day Ethiopia: crushing poverty and rapid development existing side-by-side.’ In our final week we are going to Gambela, an area of Ethiopia where the churches have experienced very significant growth.

We will be worshipping with Orthodox Christians, as well as spending time together praying, reflecting on the Bible, and sharing in the Eucharist. We are lucky to be in Ethiopia for two Christian festivals – Ethiopian Christmas on 7th January, and Ethiopian Epiphany on 19th.

We will be travelling around in Ethiopia by air, road and on foot – spending time in Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar, Gonder, Lalibela, Bishoftu and Gambela. I am hoping to visit one of the breakfast sessions for street children whilst in Addis Ababa, so I hope to bring back photos for you all to see. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to see in action the project we have supported at harvest.

There will be roughly 25 of us in the group, mostly clergy from our Diocese. The Revd Sally Lynch from St Luke’s is also going, so we hope to find appropriate ways of sharing the experience with you all on our return.

I am very grateful to our churchwardens, Donna and John, and Rob, our Churchwarden Emeritus, for giving their support for me to go on this pilgrimage. I am sure you will all give them support whilst I am away.

One might think that going away for such a long time in January would mean missing the Cox Green Pantomime…. but, no, thankfully I am back with a week to spare, so may just squeeze in a very small part! Mick Cooper, our producer, seems to expect I will be learning my lines on the plane!

With love
Joan