FORGET the ice bucket challenge, a vicar from Huddersfield has just launched a freedom to worship and pray challenge to help all those suffering persecution for their faith or identity and raise vital funds for Christian Aid’s emergency appeals.
Revd Heather Atkinson launches her freedom to prayer and worship campaign
The Revd Heather Atkinson, vicar of Moldgreen and Rawthorpe, in the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales, is challenging people of all faiths and none to join her by using social media to post a picture of themselves at a/their place of prayer or worship. They could even post a film of themselves with a few words to explain what it means to them.
She wants people to nominate others to do the same and to raise funds for Christian Aid’s emergency appeals for Iraq, Gaza and Syria to support all those suffering for their faith and identity across the world today.
Said Heather: “When I was nominated to do the ice bucket challenge, it made me think about what’s going on in the world today and the freedom to worship and pray challenge idea just sort of popped into my head.
“I’d like to think there was a bit of divine inspiration going on there,” she added.
The challenge is supported by the Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines, who is actively engaged with these matters and Bishop Tony Robinson, the area bishop for Wakefield and interim bishop for Huddersfield who chairs the West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council and has extensive interfaith involvement in the region.
Bishop Tony said: “We are witnessing such awful events happening in our world. All people of good will must stand up and be counted as we combat those who are doing these things in the name of religion. I think the Queen summed it up well when she said: "Religions can never become vehicles of hatred, that never by invoking the name of God can evil and violence be justified. Today, in this country, we stand united in that conviction. We hold that freedom to worship is at the core of our tolerant and democratic society".
“Let's get behind this campaign and be counted,” he added.
Christian Aid condemns all discrimination or attacks on the basis of their identity in Iraq, Syria, Gaza and throughout the world. In the last six months violence has forced 1.45m people to flee their homes in Iraq while latest figures for Gaza suggest almost 2,000 Palestinians have been killed and 66 Israelis while casualties number over 8,000 casualties.
Alex Jones, Christian Aid’s Deputy Head for the Eastside of England said: ‘Christian Aid partners on the ground in Iraq and Gaza are working in very difficult circumstances to provide desperately needed help for those forced from their homes. We share Heather’s call for the protection of all people regardless of their belief and identity and encourage others to join Heather in this challenge’.
JOIN THE CHALLENGE…You can text HELP5 and HELP10 to 70060 to donate £5 and £10 respectively to Christian Aid – donations will be shared between the Iraq, Syria and Gaza emergency appeals.
And spread the challenge on twitter using #freedomtopray