Charities model partnership for action in new study pack for churches

Two national overseas development charities have worked together to produce a new study pack for churches.

The Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) and Harvest Help have jointly produced Our Common Ground, a free resource for congregations and small groups. The pack offers resources to encourage learning, praying, giving and practical action in support of some of the world's poorest people.

Kevin Fray, from MRDF, explained why the two charities were working together: "Harvest Help and MRDF work closely together in Africa, jointly supporting a number of projects and sharing common aims and objectives.  We felt we should also model this in our work in the UK, celebrating our common ground in this pack."

Our Common Ground illustrates MRDF and Harvest Help's work in Uganda and Zambia. It contains the stories of people, such as Josephine Nakanwagi in Uganda, who depend on the land for a livelihood.  Changes in the local economy could have spelt disaster for Josephine, but led to new opportunities once women in her village began to work together to solve their problems.  Training and support from her local women's group has meant that Josephine can now not only grow plants for food and medicine, but has new confidence to share her skills with others.

As well as inspiring stories, the pack also includes Bible studies, posters, prayers and suggestions for practical action that a church or group could respond to. Kevin Lawrence, from Harvest Help, explained how Our Common Ground might be used: "The pack would be particularly suitable for a Lent course in a church or group, but it can be used at any time of the year.  The stories and studies are designed to highlight everyday life for farmers living in poverty, but also to illustrate the transformation that is possible with the support of UK congregations."

The free packs will be sent out to all churches that currently support the two charities early in 2005.  Free copies are also available from Harvest Help and MRDF. 

 Established in 1985, Harvest Help provides practical support to rural communities in southern Africa, helping them to improve their livelihoods through sustainable farming and increased self-reliance.  The charity enjoys significant support from churches from across the denominations and supports them through the production of free resources and newsletters

Contact details: Kevin Lawrence, Harvest Help, 3 - 4 Old Bakery Row, Wellington, Telford, Shropshire, TF1 1PS Email: kevin@harvesthelp.org

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