The Diocese of Manchester is linked with the dioceses of Lahore in Pakistan, Namibia and Tampere in Finland. Our links are a means by which people can grow to know each other, learn from each other and encourage each other in their worship, witness and mission.
Pakistan has a population of almost 200 million people, of whom 96% are Muslim. Sharia law, enacted in 1985, is discriminatory towards people of other faiths – for example, no Christian can become a judge. Many Christians in Pakistan live in shanty towns called ‘Bustees’ and experience differing degrees of poverty and discrimination.
The Diocese of Lahore is part of the United Church of Pakistan. It places great emphasis on pastoral ministry, caring not only for the spiritual health of church members but also in sharing the love and grace of God through education, medical and other ministries.
As well as running 22 church schools, all of which have a reputation for high academic standards, the Diocese of Lahore delivers a programme to empower women, vocational training, and a number of community development and income generation schemes.
Although our needs are different, the link benefits people and communities on both sides as they share and learn from one another.
Lahore Link Facebook page
The city of Tampere, about 100 miles north of Helsinki, is the third largest city in Finland and has much in common with Manchester. Each was a cradle of the Industrial Revolution and centre of the textile industry with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Both have seen the collapse of their traditional industries, and are now re-inventing themselves successfully as centres of research, innovation, education and tourism. Immigration and the presence of other faiths are relatively new for the Finns, and they want to learn how the churches in the UK have responded. The Finnish Church currently has resources to deliver high-quality programmes for all ages, which can help us, in turn, to develop a variety of aspects of our church life. There is much that we can learn together about faith, mission and ministry in rapidly changing urban environments.
Our link with the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of Tampere developed out of the Porvoo Agreement. Since the link was formed, we have grown in friendship and mutual learning in a variety of ways, including:
- Parish links
- Visits from parish clergy, parishioners and diocesan staff
- Placements, both long and short term
- Joint spiritual retreats in Finland and the UK
- Participation in each other’s diocesan conferences.
- Young people’s confirmation camps in Finland and the UK
- Isonen on the Road youth leadership programme
- Joint theological reflection project and conference.
Established in 1995, our link with Namibia aims to encourage the development of faith an enrich the spiritual lives of people within the diverse social and economic cultures of the dioceses of Manchester and Namibia.
We do this through direct parish to parish links; currently five parishes and three primary schools within the diocese have strong links. We actively support youth and adult exchange programmes, education links, social and economic support programmes-promotion of positive health schemes-poverty reduction programmes, ongoing clergy training and support.
We challenge our church members to explore issues of poverty and social justice as they affect people whose faith is shaped by a different culture: those living in the poorest communities in the northern regions of the country. Perhaps to engage with families devastated by the effects of the HIV pandemic, or communities whose livelihoods depend on subsistence agriculture and find themselves victims of climate change.