Worship Service : Sunday 27 September 2020

Our Worship Service for Sunday 27 September 2020 can be viewed at our website –
Services/Service – Our current Worship Service

There is a dedicated phone line for those who wish to listen on the phone. The number to dial is 01563 444426

Keep safe and well. And we hope that you enjoy the Service.

Fiona Kendall – Italy

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121 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4YN
T: +44 (0)131 225 5722 E: world@churchofscotland.org.uk
Scottish Charity Number: SCO11353
Fiona Kendall – Italy
August 2020
FCEI – Mediterranean Hope
Via Firenze 38
00184 Roma, Italy
Dear friends
I hope this finds you safe, well and in good spirits. I am conscious that the past six months have
been a testing time for all of us and that, for some, this continues to be the case.
I remained in Rome throughout the Italian lockdown, which began nation-wide on 9th March 2020.
From the outset a strict regime was enforced: essentially, we could not leave our homes other than
to shop for groceries, attend medical appointments, work or exercise. All who could work remotely
were asked to do so. A self-certification form was required at all times and fines of up to EUR
3,000 levied for those not complying with the measures. A gradual easing began on 4th May.
Whilst we remain obliged to wear masks in all closed public spaces, including on public transport,
and 1m social distancing remains in place, in many other respects much of the old life has
resumed. For a culture which spends much of its time outdoors and in the company of others, this
is a huge relief.
The past six months have provided me with new insights. I have come to appreciate as never
before the significance of freedom of movement and the value of human connection. I have been
moved not only by seeing folk “for real” again but also by how friendships were made across
balconies and strengthened online. This was unexpectedly underlined in June when I spent a
week in one of Rome’s hospitals after breaking my collarbone whilst out running. Admission was
subject to a negative test for Covid 19 and, for obvious reasons, no visitors were permitted. Virtual
contact there was absolutely invaluable. What a blessing to be able to continue to speak to family
and friends, attend church and even work meetings!
A working group from the Italy Waldensian and Methodist Churches was very quick off the mark in
trialing “Zoom Worship” on 15th March, less than a week after the lockdown was imposed. For the
sixty or so of us who participated in that first try at online worship, it was very powerful to come
together, to see one another’s faces and to be reminded of the constancy of God and faith in even
121 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4YN
T: +44 (0)131 225 5722 E: world@churchofscotland.org.uk
Scottish Charity Number: SCO11353
the most extreme situations. At its peak, participants numbered around 400 – but it was not long
before other churches, including the congregations with which I am directly involved in Rome,
began to offer services via YouTube, Facebook and other means. If you are like me, you will have
enjoyed being able to dip into a number of different services from around the world and to
participate with family and friends in far-flung places as well as close to home. We are now
tentatively returning to church buildings but it is now clear to me that both virtual and “in person”
worship have much to offer.
The Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy, of which the Mediterranean Hope project is part,
responded quickly to the pandemic and raised significant funds to help to alleviate extreme
suffering. The MH team adapted well to remote working. With the exception of those in Lebanon,
who were recalled for their own safety, everyone else remained in situ. We have all stayed
connected with each other and with the migrants we care for via telephone, Skype and Zoom. The
larger scale meetings which normally take me to other cities and countries have also proceeded
virtually. I have found this a very efficient – and environmentally-friendly – way of working. I very
much hope that this will continue, whether or not we are able to travel freely again.
Some of the Lebanon team had already returned to Beirut when the explosion happened on 4th
August 2020. The windows of our office were blown in and one of the team was admitted to
hospital with facial injuries from flying glass. We were fortunate to escape so lightly. Immediately,
the refugees the team works with rallied to offer help to sort out the office and, incredibly, to offer to
put up our staff members in their own homes. How often we find that those who have least offer
The humanitarian corridors scheme, which brings migrants safely and legally from Lebanon to
Italy, had to be suspended in March due to the travel restrictions but we hope to be able to revive
this from next month. Negotiations are underway with the Italian government for a new protocol for
the coming years, and we are asking for new countries to be included in that. It has been good to
hear senior government ministers publicly calling for European Humanitarian Corridors from North
Africa, as this has been our clarion call for some time now.12 The scheme continues to be held up
as a model of best practice by, amongst others, UNHCR3, with whom we continue to work closely.

1 https://www.firenzepost.it/2020/07/16/tripoli‐lamorgese‐incontra‐al‐serraj‐attivare‐i‐corridoi‐umanitari‐
2 https://www.agensir.it/quotidiano/2020/7/29/migranti‐del‐re‐viceministro‐esteri‐attiviamo‐subito‐i‐

121 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4YN
T: +44 (0)131 225 5722 E: world@churchofscotland.org.uk
Scottish Charity Number: SCO11353

121 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4YN
T: +44 (0)131 225 5722 E: world@churchofscotland.org.uk
Scottish Charity Number: SCO11353
The team in impoverished Calabria has continued to support exploited migrant workers. In the
early weeks of the pandemic, their focus shifted to educating those in camps about the real threat
posed by the virus – rumoured to be a “white man’s disease” – and to providing masks and handsanitiser, particularly crucial in a setting where there is often no running water. Interestingly, the
health crisis has triggered a change in Italian law, long campaigned-for by activists, which will see
some of these exploited workers provided with documents, rights and conditions which were
previously denied to them. Our team has now turned its attention to finding accommodation for
these workers, the government having announced its intention to dismantle the tent cities where so
many reside in appalling conditions.
Lampedusa has again become the focus of media attention. The fine summer weather has, as
usual, seen an increase in the numbers attempting the deadly Mediterranean crossing from North
Africa. Whilst the numbers are significantly lower than was the case five years ago, any arrivals
pose challenges. The “hotspot” (detention centre) is full and, after an outcry about those arriving
being forced to sleep outdoors on the quay, a ship is now moored off Lampedusa to quarantine
those arriving for fourteen days before they are transferred to other parts of Italy to begin the
asylum process. The team there continues to offer what support it can to those arriving and to
work with the local community to dissipate tension.
In short, MH continues to work to improve the lot of those seeking a better life in a foreign place, as
well as the communities where they end up. For a team which relishes new challenges and being
creative, the pandemic is simply another obstacle to be tackled, with the usual tenacity and good
humour. It remains a joy to be part of that team.
The pandemic did, however, force me to postponed my long-planned deputation period in Scotland
during the month of April. I very much hope that this can soon be rescheduled – perhaps to early
next year – and that we can meantime maintain virtual contact. Thank you to all who continue to
encourage and pray for me, and for MH’s work. If you are willing, please pray for the following:
 A continued sense of responsibility in keeping ourselves – and others – safe from Covid 19;
 Revival of humanitarian projects affected or suspended by the pandemic;
 Reasoned debate about migration issues and recognition of the contribution migrants
Every blessing

From the Church Magazine: Help offered

HELP OFFERED: Michael and Jennifer Steven are both key workers but, although working throughout the lockdown, are in a position to assist anyone who is selfisolating, shielding etc by picking up medicine food or any other essential items. If you need help or wish to offer help, please contact Michael on 07791 143782 or email m_steven@sky.com

An Easter Day Word

Letter 2020, Easter

Easter Sunday 2020

An Easter Day word from the Rev Fiona Maxwell

The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all’

As many of you will be aware, I am currently on extended compassionate leave after the death of my Dad four weeks ago. Dad’s funeral was attended by a very limited number at the Crematorium and we were unable to have a Thanksgiving Service. This, of course, the experience for so many in these changed times.

I take this opportunity to ‘thank you’ for your kind words in cards, your thoughts and prayers for me and my family which have been a source of comfort.

In many and varied ways all our lives have been changed not just for now but perhaps for ever. I wonder what thoughts, questions, doubts, fears, hopes and dreams have been going through your minds in these days? There are no easy answers. No glib statements that can make everything ok. We need to acknowledge the sadness we feel. So many kinds of grief afflict us, as we think of the losses of this time, not only those associated with bereavement but everything else we have ’lost’ in these days. We need to be gentle with ourselves and one another, now and in the days to come when we emerge from isolation back into community.

On this Easter Sunday, so different as we find ourselves apart and not together, I pray that you may each know that Christ has walked where we walk and is with us in these days.

The words of poet John O’Donohue

This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,

Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning’

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again, Jesus said, “Peace be with you! (John chapter 20)


May the celebration of resurrected life bring new hope to your being.
May the victory over earthly death turn your eyes to the promises of heaven.
May the empty tomb help you to leave your sorrows at the foot of the cross.
So that God’s hope, promises and forgiveness reign in your life forever.