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This week the new Sheriffs of London were admitted to office for 2023-4. This ancient office was historically responsible for maintaining order in the City of London and enforcing justice. You can read more about them here.

This year, one of the two Sheriffs elected is Alderwoman Dame Sue Langley DBE of Aldgate Ward where St Katharine Cree is located. Like the team who came to restart St Katharine Cree's ministry as a Guild Church to Workers in recent years, Sue comes originally from the East End of London. She has had a successful career in insurance - one of the main industries in our part of the City - and public service. Sue is passionate about widening opportunity in the City, and has set herself a target of reaching at least 1,000 young people who otherwise would not consider a City career.

Each Sheriff appoints an Honorary Chaplain for the year, a role which combines civic responsibilities and pastoral ministry as part of the Sheriff's team for the year. The Revd Josh Harris, Priest of St Katharine Cree, has been asked to serve as Sue's Chaplain and we, as a Church, will be praying for her and supporting her over this coming year. Josh's role will take around a day a week, both for the civic events the role involves (a lot of saying Grace and processing!) but more significantly working to help Sue achieve her aim of making a difference for those on the margins of the City.

We share with Sue her priority of extending opportunity to as many as possible - and we know from our own community of workers and worshippers here how this has to go hand in hand with promoting fairness and justice, so that everyone is free to take the opportunities available.

One of the ways we will work together with Sue is raising the profile of the Living Wage in the City of London. There is no place more capable of paying every single worker a wage they can live on than here in the most successful and prosperous business district in the world. We look forward to convening civic and business leaders during Living Wage Week in November to discuss ways of promoting the Living Wage.

One of our goals at the Guild Church for Workers in the City of London is raising the profile of significant parts of the City workforce who are essential for the City's prosperity and success but are often overlooked. As Josh explained in his Lion Sermon, St Katharine’s ministry recognises the place of workers who are socially and economically marginalised within London's economy, but on whose work our collective prosperity and success depends - like cleaners, security guards, and carers:

Prosperity is sustained not by building walls around our own kingdoms of comfort, but weaving together the many diverse strands of the modern City into seamless and strong relationships of trust and dependability. We all have our different vulnerabilities; but we all have strengths to offer; we all have a part to play. On the foundation of solidarity we can build a better future beyond crisis.

We look forward to working with Sheriff and Alderwoman Sue Langley, and all people of peace, as we seek together the shared prosperity of this City.

Please pray for Sue, her husband Gary, for Josh as he serves as Chaplain, and for our ministry and community here at St Katharine Cree.

Dr Claire Moll Namas, one of our chaplaincy team, reflects on the development of worship in other languages at St Katharine Cree...

St. Katharine Cree has begun celebrating a Spanish language mass occurring on the first Saturday of each month. From 12noon to 1pm the church echoes with the joyous sounds of the song "Pescador de Hombre". However, this initiative was not led by the clergy or staff. In the winter people from across our life at the church, from our ESOL students, to members of the union, to participants in our women's leadership course, all who had first arrived to the building of St. Katharine Cree ostensibly to benefit from our more secular programming, began to ask if we celebrated mass in Spanish on a Sunday. We explained that we didn't, but if mass is something that they might be interested in, we could explore options. Taking a lead from the community, we began a listening campaign focused on exploring the spiritual needs of those coming into the building for any sort of activity. Overwhelmingly the feedback was that people wanted a Bible Study and a mass in their first language.

The Bible Study took place over lent after our morning ESOL class and had a very dedicated group of women. They discussed forgiveness--what the Bible has to say about it, how God and Jesus exemplify it, and how we might implement that sort of forgiveness in our everyday lives.

As for the mass, it quickly garnered 20-30 regular participants. People from across Latin America, all migrant workers in London, gather to receive communion or an anointing of the sick. Many of the congregants are returning to the communal practice of their faith for the first time in years. We know that shift work, often managing multiple jobs, plus the cotidian struggles of family life mean that many low-wage workers have to forgo weekly gatherings like this. Keeping unsociable hours often means a forced separation from partaking in the sacred meal of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. But now, at least once a month, those coming for ESOL or the union meetings can once again access this intimate communal moment.

One woman remarked after the first Spanish language mass, "I finally knew the words to the mass again!" There is very much a spirit of returning to faith happening at St. Katharine Cree in this moment of time. It is a joy for the team to be accompanying so many in this re-encounter. We all have a language of our hearts, and it is in that language that we long to connect with God.

At St. Katharine Cree, we are looking towards the future, and as we partner with more people who have first languages other than Spanish, we hope to build up worshiping communities in those languages as well. Stay tuned for the mass in Albanian or the Ukrainian language Bible Study! As we continue to work to build the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth, we expect our building to become filled with many types of songs of praise--all united in the mission to worship God, welcome our neighbours, and challenge injustice as the Guild Church for Workers.

Musical Director of Sing Tower Hamlets and freelance vocal leader, Leanne Sedin, writes...

Working with St Katharine Cree on the Wrenathon was really special for us. In addition to Sing Tower Hamlets performing being hosted by St Katharine Cree on the day of the Vocal Marathon itself, we also had the opportunity to work with some of the church's established community as part of the wider Wrenathon programme. Through a series of workshops, singers from Sing Tower Hamlets joined together with the majority-Spanish-speaking community of the church, to learn some songs together, talk about the songs we loved and carry with us, discuss we identified with different lyrics, and ultimately write an original piece of music together, to be performed at the Vocal Marathon.

A theme that kept coming up in the discussions was around being split between two places - many of this community originating from Central and South America, having moved to the UK to work - as well as the different things in our lives that keep us going. It was clear these things needed to be expressed in song - and lyrics were developed from these discussions. It was incredibly special for Sing Tower Hamlets to perform the resulting song, entitled "Distance Between", at St Katharine Cree at the Vocal Marathon on 24th June, with one of the workshop participants joining in to sing, and many more in the audience, hearing their own words reflected back.

Another joyful thing to come out of this collaboration was Sing Tower Hamlets learning to sing in Spanish for the first time! We were guided on pronunciation by members of the St Katharine Cree community as we learnt the song "Ya Basta!" (meaning "enough!"), which includes the words of Spanish poet Antonio Machado: "caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar". This translates to "walker, there is no path - the path is made by walking" - and this was certainly our experience journeying through this new and exciting collaboration together.

I'm so grateful for the warmth and generosity with which we were welcomed in by the community of this church, and hosted by Priest-in-Charge Josh Harris and chaplaincy team members Ivonne Loján and Claire Moll Namas. It was a really special collaboration and we hope to build on it in the future!

On a personal note, it was delightful following our performance to then go and see various diverse choirs performing in other Square Mile churches - several of which I stepped foot in for the first time. I'd love to see this kind of event happen again in the future!

Revd Josh Harris writes...

We were so delighted to welcome Leanne Sedin to St Katharine Cree for these singing and story sharing workshops, and the fantastic performance by Sing Tower Hamlets of a new song written out of those workshops. As the Guild Church for Workers in the City, we are building community and relationships of trust and solidarity among workers here - including the many who have travelled from around the world to contribute to the prosperity and vibrancy of the City of London. As followers of the creator God, we know that music, art, singing, and sharing the stories which make sense of our lives is such an important way in which we can do this.

We are grateful to support from the Diocese of London, Wren 300, and the superb producer of this event, Holly Hunter.

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