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15 May 2014

Bishop jumps for justice

Bishop jumps for justice

The Bishop of Swindon and Alliance council member, Rt Rev Lee Rayfield was one of 42 people to drop 70ft in a free-fall abseil for charity on Sunday. Bishop Lee, who is recovering from lymphoma, took part in the event which launched Christian Aid week (11-17 May) at St Sampson’s Church, Cricklade, in Wiltshire. 

Other participants included two octogenarians, three generations of one family and five members of local clergy. The sponsored fundraisers, who had to lower themselves through a hole in the ceiling of the tower before the harness caught, are expected to raise over £8,000 for Christian Aid week which this year is raising the profile of those living in fear around the world. 

Bishop Lee, who last year took part in a 172-mile bike ride around Wiltshire, said that the abseil was something of a challenge: “I don’t have a great head for heights. I felt reasonably ok until I was told you had to step out into nothingness. I must admit that gave me a shadow of doubt. 

“So why did I do it? Well, what Christian Aid are doing this year is particularly close to my heart, because I’ve seen people who have had their lives absolutely ruined by violence and tragedy and seen how long it takes to rebuild things. 

“So this thrust on reconciliation and restoring safety and security is very important to me. In the diocese of Bristol, because of our links with a diocese in Uganda, I think it resonated with lots of churches and the clergy and it was fantastic to see so many of them there.” 

The jump was part of the Cricklade Big Day Out which began with a packed ecumenical service and included a justice march. Katrine Musgrave, Christian Aid Wiltshire co-ordinator, said: “I was overwhelmed by the success of the Cricklade Big Day Out. It was powerful to take part in the march and to see and hear over 50 people carrying banners and shouting for justice as they processed. 

“So much of our work relies upon the power of solidarity and we saw that in droves throughout the day which was attended by around 400 people. The money raised will fund vital projects around the world where Christian Aid is responding to disasters, developing long-term partnerships and calling for fair and just systems.” 

Christian Aid works with partners in countries around the world who are dealing with on-going conflict, or the legacy war leaves behind including Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Angola and Sierra Leone. They provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.