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Girton Parish News - October 2001

The Front Page.

Joint Churches Summer Club: Starship Discovery

Stardate: 22 August 2001
Mission:  to learn about the disciple, Peter.
Location:  Cotton Hall, Girton.
Attendance:  48 different children over four days.
Objective:  to have fun.
Objective achieved:  yes!
Diary Date:  Highlight Party (for all children and helpers who
attended), 31/10/01, 5-7pm, Baptist Church.
Contact:  Laura Staves, 515206, for more information.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this years Summer Club.
It was great fun and we hope to see even more children next year.


Message from St Andrew's

Blessed are the Peacemakers

There has been so much written in the papers, so much film on TV, and so much analysis everywhere concerning the recent events that have taken place in the United States.  The destruction of the gleaming towers of the World Trade Centre and the damage to the Pentagon should be considered, in any rational person's mind, truly terrible events.  The death toll is still rising, the number of missing loved ones is rising, and hope of finding any more survivors is rapidly falling.  Yet the rescue efforts must persist for weeks and months to come.

I said that these events "should be considered truly terrible".  However, in the eyes of the perpetrators and their many supporters this was a majestic act of "war" against the bully-boy United States.  This is the country they love to hate, yet to whose freedoms and material standards many of them may aspire.  As it has been said, "one person's freedom fighter is another person's terrorist."

The "hawks" around the world are clamouring for one particular person, Osama bin Laden, "dead or alive". They are calling for swift, decisive and conclusive military action against all the nations that harbour terrorists.  But while there may be a lot of evidence pointing to the guilt of this one man, and of his implication in other devastating acts of terrorism, at the time of writing Mr bin Laden has already been judged and found guilty of this World Trade Centre crime and the race is on to find supporting evidence.

So the "hawkish" powers prepare for a "war", a "crusade", or a "campaign" which they consider is justified as a retribution or revenge for these deeds. But what is a "just war"?

The principles of "Just War Theory" are based on the writings of St Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.  These were written a long, long time ago when war was basically very simple and limited in time and place, although rather bloody.  They were drawn up during a period which has lasted until only recently, when combatants and non-combatants were easily differentiated, and the reasons for war were easily identified.

But we have serious problems reconciling these rules with the recent acts of terrorism. Nowadays, terrorists can go, and obviously have gone, about their "normal business" amongst their "enemies" while waging their war or making preparations for it.  Further, as a result of the dispersal of the warring factions amongst non-combatants, it becomes very difficult to wage a conventional war against them because the risk to innocent bystanders is too great.  This is an issue that must seriously be considered by whomever is planning acts of revenge and retribution.

Further, the reasons for war may be to right injustice, or they may be just plain evil.  The solution to the former is much more open to reason and negotiation: the latter is closed to any rational argument.

And then, according to "Just War Theory", there must be a reasonable chance of success.  What would you see as a measure of "success" in the war against terrorism?  There is a whole spectrum of "success factors" between a negotiated rectification of perceived injustice, right through to the extermination of people.

Again, the "theory" says that the potential benefits of a successful outcome of a war must outweigh any evil that happens during its prosecution.  In our current state of mind we cannot consider the matter rationally to weigh up the issues.  We would only compound the evil that has been inflicted upon us.  Not only would an outright war inflict evil against "the enemy", whoever that is, but it would also inflict evil in the hearts of those on "our side".

Remember Gordon Wilson who lost his beloved daughter in the Enniskillen bombing in Northern Ireland.  Despite his tragic loss, he still managed to forgive the terrorists.  He was not agreeing with or condoning their actions, but he realised that evil would persist if he let it rot his own heart into bitterness and lust for revenge.

Jesus said, "Blessed are the peace makers."  A peace maker is not one who just stands back and takes whatever is thrown at him or her.  But a peace maker strives for a just peace that "men may honour one another and seek the common good".  A peace maker strives for justice and fairness, to right the wrongs that exist in the world.

May the rulers of the world be guided to understand what true peace is, and may they discern how to work for it.

Dugald Wilson, Reader

Message from the Baptist Church

Refuge and Strength

I can clearly remember the day when President Kennedy was assassinated.  I cannot recall the date, except that I was not very old at the time, but I can clearly remember the day.  There was an air of solemnity in the house, the news-reader on the television delivered the news in very sombre tones and various grown-ups were saying that the world would never be the same again.  Yet the thing I remember most clearly about the day was that I went for a bike ride.  For about the first time in my life I cycled by myself around the block on which we lived.  It was quite a distance for a little boy on a tricycle and, as we lived on a hill, my circumnavigation of the block involved descending one road to come back up another, not to mention hurtling along the level to avoid the attention of a particularly noisy dog.  Perhaps the phrase, “the world would never be the same again”, had spurred me to go on the journey, to see if my world had changed or remained the same.

Like the day when Kennedy was murdered, Tuesday 11th September 2001, will live in our memories for ever.  We will all be able to say in years to come, exactly what we were doing when we heard the news that terrorists had attacked the United States on a scale we had never witnessed before.  Our hearts go out to all those who have lost loved ones and together we have been saddened, horrified, devastated, angry, anxious and afraid of what might come.  Once again we have heard it said that the world will never be the same.  Rulers and political leaders have declared a war on terrorists and as I write, a week on from the events, we await some military response.  By the time this article is published more things may have happened.

All our human emotions are displayed in the Bible and particularly so in the book of Psalms.  The Psalmist knew sadness, horror, devastation, anger, anxiety and fear, yet through all his varying emotions there remains the confident theme that God will not let him go.  On the day of the atrocities in the USA, President Bush reminded the nation of the words of the 23rd Psalm that, “Even though they walk through the valley of the shadow death, they need fear no evil.”   Faith does not make us immune from the problems of the world, but puts us in touch with a God who knows our emotions and in the words of Psalm 46, “Is our refuge and strength a very present help in times of trouble.”   These great hymns of the Bible are not easy answers to the questions that torment us, as Psalm 121 makes clear.  The writer in that Psalm looked up to the hills asking where he could find help, but the answer was not in the hills.  His only help came from holding on to faith in the God who made heaven and earth, and who never ceases to watch over us whatever may befall.  Our world may change, but God endures for ever.

Phillip Staves

Message from the Girton Glebe School

Message from the School

We are already into the third week of term and Summer feels to be long gone. As always September brings new beginnings for everyone in education and new pupils again renew our school. We welcome all new families and hope they will be happy in the village and their children in the school.

We hear from the local secondary schools that our last year's Year 6 are settling in and enjoying the new experiences. We hope that they will continue to develop their own individual talents and whatever their ability do their best as they did in the end of Year 6 SATs. We were delighted with their achievements of :

        English    82%
        Maths      61%
        Science   90%
although of course we would have liked their greater confidence in Maths to enable us to equal the English result. Apparently we are not alone in a dip in the Maths but we await greater clarification with the publication of the national figures.
We are looking forward to a celebration at the end of September to mark the official opening of the Millennium Garden. There was great excitement at the beginning of term when Abbas' statue was installed in the garden. It was inspired by our school and the children love it. They are able to touch it and feel the different textures that Abbas has finished the stone with and if you look really closely they can see the tiny creatures in the Portland stone. The children have named it 'Best Friends'. 
A very happy new school year to you all.
Susan Baker, Headteacher

Last updated: 3rd July 2001