Bishop Jackie backs Christmas appeal to help women thrive
The Right Reverend Jackie Searle, the Bishop of Crediton, said a teacher and an older lady in her church helped her find the strength to become one of the first pioneering women bishops.
Bishop Jackie said it was important to help women “thrive and not just survive” and is supporting Christian Aid’s Christmas Appeal to empower women around the world and help them escape poverty.
As churches and individuals remember the resilience and strength of Mary in the Nativity story this Christmas, Christian Aid is highlighting how whole families can thrive if mothers are given the opportunity to discover their voice and inherent gifts.
Bishop Jackie said: “In my primary school I had a teacher, Miss Dickens, who had a great influence on me, she probably has no idea! Her teaching was inspirational, she challenged and encouraged, and she helped me to believe in my own gifts and abilities.
“In my twenties I began to sense God’s call to ordination. It was an older woman in my house group who encouraged me to explore this, even though women could not be priests at the time, helping me to trust in God’s call.
“At Christmas we celebrate the courage and determination of Mary”
“We must not underestimate the power of teaching and encouragement in our world, the effect of education for girls, the inspiration of role models and the faith of others on our behalf.
“At Christmas we celebrate the courage and determination of Mary and are reminded of our opportunity to help more women thrive and not just survive.
“As we think about the gifts we can give this Christmas, perhaps the most precious thing we can give is hope – that might come as a word of encouragement or a space to be heard, or perhaps it is a financial gift to a charity such as Christian Aid, empowering women and their families across the world.
“I know what it meant and means to me to receive support and advice from those around me who didn’t see the barriers in my way that others saw.
Christian Aid has been helping women like 30-year-old Ranjita from Rajasthan, India, who cleaned latrines and sewers by hand from the age of nine. With the help of a Christian Aid-funded self-help group, she discovered she was entitled to a government compensation grant and help to find a dignified occupation.
Ranjita is now earning a living as a tailor and able to send her daughter to school.
Bishop Jackie said “For women such as Ranjita a gift not only changed her life but helped break the generational cycle of poverty, allowing her and her daughter to see themselves differently.
“This Christmas, please do think of the women close to you – your mother, daughter, grandmother, sister, or friend – as well as those far away by supporting the Christmas appeal, and freeing them to meet their potential so more people can experience life in all its fullness.”
Last Christmas churches across Devon raised £3,500 for Christian Aid. Events in support of the appeal this year include carol singing in town centres and supermarkets, carol concerts and Christmas tree festivals.