|St Paul's Church member, Agnes, assists with the feeding programme in Athens|
In some quarters of Greece there are strong feelings of animosity towards Germany as the latter is blamed for the imposition of strict austerity measures as part of the EU financial assistance programme. But at the level of the Church, Anglicans in Germany have been expressing their solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Greece. For three Sundays in Lent, St George's Berlin took up special collections and raised funds which they sent to their sister parish of St Paul's in Athens. On receipt of the funds, the chaplain of St Paul's, Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, wrote to Canon Christopher Jage-Bowler, the chaplain of St George's:
"A very, very BIG expression of gratitude to all at St George’s for this act of solidarity with St Paul’s and the wider world in Athens as we journey through these difficult times. The stories of human hardship we are regularly facing or observe on the streets are heart rendering and overwhelming. The need is great and the resources few.... People’s spending power has greatly decreased because of a rapid rise in taxation, benefits are severely cut along with having to make provision for members in the family who are unemployed (particularly young adults). In the light of all this it seems little can be done. But such is Easter that we cannot give up on hope and generosity. What little we have we must offer. This act of solidarity from St George’s helps to strengthen us in our resolve to respond as best we might in the spirit of our risen Lord".The Athens Church is directing the German support through their 'Ephraim Boms Fund' which was set up in memory of the parish Reader who died last year and who had a special ministry supporting the migrant population in the Greek capital. The Fund assists mainly the migrants who have been particularly hard hit by the economic measures. Some examples of how the Fund has been used in the past weeks include payment for urgent medical tests for a new born baby whose parents are Nigerian but whose father has not been paid by his employer for three months, and the purchase of sleeping bags for several men who have to sleep in one cold rented room, with no mattress or bedding, as they are unemployed. And the needs continue daily.
|The Revd Canon Christopher Jage Bowler, St George's Berlin|