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Bishop sings praises of volunteers and urges everyone to help those in need

PUBLISHED: 15:03 17 December 2017

Bishop Martin Seeley pictured last year helping to feed the homeless at churches which open as winter night shelters every year in Ipswich town centre. Picture: KEITH MINDHAM

Bishop Martin Seeley pictured last year helping to feed the homeless at churches which open as winter night shelters every year in Ipswich town centre. Picture: KEITH MINDHAM

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Suffolk’s most senior Church of England clergyman is urging people to respond to the serious needs so many face, and to make a real difference in the lives of those facing poverty, loneliness, illness and lack of support.

In his Christmas message the Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, praised the work of the many volunteers working through churches and community groups.

These included those who provide food parcels for hungry families, run toddler groups and lunch clubs, visit those in care homes, hospital or prison, and open churches in Ipswich and elsewhere as night shelters for the homeless.

Bishop Martin said: “At Christmas we remember once again that God is with us, coming among us as Jesus, sharing our human condition, knowing poverty, and fleeing with his parents as a refugee.

“Each Christmas in recent years we have seen growing numbers attending church Christmas services in Suffolk, from 44,000 in 2014 to more than 49,000 last year, and I believe people are connecting with this sense that we are not alone, that God is with us, and God wants us to be there for each other.

“People recognise that the birth of Jesus gives all our lives meaning, and that God responds to the troubles and uncertainties we face, by coming among us and inspiring us to help others in so many ways.

“God’s gift to us at Christmas is the source of our hope, of reassurance, and confidence. I hope that those being welcomed to our churches at Christmas will continue to engage in the life of the church, and allow their faith and sense of belonging to grow, to live our lives hopefully and fruitfully, caring for others.”

He hoped everyone would reach out to people facing severe need, not just in Suffolk, but around the world.

Bishop Martin said: “There have been countless thousands of pounds raised by churches to serve their local communities and Christians, people of other faiths and no faith are reaching out and caring for those in real need.

“We have seen food banks and churches open as night shelters, but it is dismaying to think of how many people and families are still hungry in Suffolk this Christmas or those who feel so lonely. It’s important we all continue to reach out to them and make a difference to their lives.”

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