At the beginning of April I will be making my first visit to Malawi. As part of this visit I shall be visiting one of the schools receiving a new classroom block which has been made possible through the generous support of many here in our own Diocese. I am very much looking forward to opening and dedicating this much-needed building. This is a token of our love and care for our Malawian sisters and brothers and their children. The aim is to provide a new classroom block in each of the four Dioceses, but we are not quite there with funding to complete this. Please do click here to read the report on current progress. It would be wonderful if we could reach our final target by Easter.
I have long been concerned with the importance of education and its part in enabling full human flourishing. I have been deeply grateful for opportunities that I have had, coming from a family in which I was the first to go to university. I was especially pleased to play a part in the widening access agenda when chaplain at the University of Derby and also involved in educational issues at national level on behalf of the Church of England.
In countries like Malawi, the resourcing of education at all levels, especially for girls, who too often drop out before the end of schooling, is vitally important for development as well as the flourishing of individuals. I see support of the schools there as an integral part of the holistic mission to which God calls us.
The Revd Tim Harford, Director of Fundraising and Communications for USPG, describes in an article how the Anglican Church in Malawi is also taking a multi-faceted approach to mission. He writes:
“Every day at USPG – we are grappling with the meaning of mission. It’s not a simple thing to define and our Anglican partners around the world hold many different perspectives and priorities. But one thing we would generally agree on is that mission is ‘holistic’, which means multifaceted, addressing body, mind and soul”.
At this time in the Church of England, Birmingham, we have been reviewing our Transforming Church vision with a view not simply to growing the church, but to increasing our ability to be a transforming presence in the world through transformed lives. As we enter the season of Lent, may I encourage us all to reflect afresh on what it means in our mission to address body, mind and soul. May I also invite your renewed prayers for our sisters and brothers in Malawi, and your prayers for those of us travelling to Malawi this Passiontide.
Wishing you every blessing for this holy season.
The Rt Revd Anne Hollinghurst
Bishop of Aston