One church I know calls it their “Inasmuch Group” from our Lord’s statement: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”. Here at St Clement’s, we have called it our “Helping Others Group” which is a bit less esoteric ( and doesn’t demand an intimate knowledge of the King James Version of the Bible!)
Our group is open to all our members and is probably the most important group in St Clement’s. In a way, it carries out the work for which all the other groups exist.
St Clement’s has always supported good causes. For example, a few years ago we gave quite a large sum of money to an African diocese for the work of the Bishop there. And when special appeals are made, such as the recent one for Haiti, thousands of dollars have flowed in. And from my own confidential knowledge of the lives of parishioners, I know how many of them give sacrificially to the poor and needy.
Nevertheless, it is only recently that I have sought to give a higher profile to the corporal works of mercy in and through our own church family. Some of my motives are slightly selfish, for I know from other parishes that working together for others is the best Christian glue that holds a church together, and in this day and age, so many in the Church are tempted to concentrate their energies on minor matters and either leave the Church or switch churches, looking for the perfect one.
But the real reason for the Helping Others Group is just that – not helping ourselves, but giving time and resources to others. And so we have started in a small way. Last year, members of the group delivered the food and clothing collected in church each month to St Mary’s, Bainbridge St, who run a shelter, soup kitchen and clothing store.
At Christmas, specially requested gifts were given by parishioners, and the Helping Others Group liaised with the Episcopal Community Services to see that they got to housebound people who might not otherwise have received any presents. And once a month this winter, the Group were in charge of cooking and serving dinner to twenty homeless men in the Trinity Memorial Church’s Winter Shelter.
Our next venture is going to be shared with St Mark’s Church, helping wherever we can in their plan to reopen the school at St James the Less Church. They will need volunteers for summer schools and then people to take an interest and to help the new head teacher and others, as they get the school going.
Not very much, I know, yet combined with busy lives and good works through many other organizations, about as much as we can tackle at the moment. But we are always open to suggestions from anyone about other ways in which we can serve our neighbours. Our eternal salvation depends on it.