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4th September 2005
Anglican Ministry to the Persian Community in Britain
In recent years the Iranian community living in Britain has increased and a growing number have been enquiring about Christian faith or seeking asylum because of their faith. Bassi Mirzania has been called to minister to these pastoral needs.
Background: An increasing number of Church of England clergy and parishes are finding that Iranians are joining their congregations or seeking help. For some time concern has been growing as to how the pastoral needs of Persian Christians, enquirers and those seeking practical help particularly within the Church of England could be addressed.
An Anglican Chaplain: Bassi Mirzania, who has had long experience in social work and was Director for Social Responsibility in the Diocese of Guildford, sensed God calling her to ordination and to rriirijster to these pastoral needs. She was born in Iran and became a Christian there, but had to flee after the Revolution of 1979. That call was confirmed by the wider church and in October 2004 the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd John Gladwin ordained her as a deacon, with Bishop Iraj Muttahedeh and Bishop Hassan Dehqani-Tafti, the two retired bishops from Iran taking part.
The work: In her first six months she has found that a major part of her work has been assisting over 30 clergy (and bishops) working with Iranians enquiring about the Christian faith. Over 100 contacts have been made with Iranian enquirers, those involved with them and those involved with Iranians seeking asylum in this country. And the work is growing. For further details contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to helping individual enquirers she is also starting to map what is happening in Britain in relation to pastoral ministry among Persians, to watch for issues concerning Immigration and Asylum and to develop meetings in partnership with the Persian Christian Fellowship that meets in the Earls Court area.
Management: The work is overseen by a small management conunittee chaired by Mr John Clark (Director of the Archbishop's Council for Mission and Public Affairs and Chair of the Friends of the Diocese of Iran) and including the lay leader of the Persian Christian Fellowship; a Persian Reader in the Diocese of Southwark; the Church Mission Society Manager for the Middle East; the Vicar of Christ Church, Guildford (Bassi's training parish) and the Rural Dean of Tunbridge Wells.
The Church Mission Society (which has had major connections with the Anglican Church in Iran for almost 150 years) manages the finances of the project.
Funding: The ministry depends on gifts. The experience of the first six months has provided sufficient evidence that it is needed and it now needs to get on a more assured footing.
It is estimated that it will cost £15,000 per year. A grant from CMS and initial gifts from others raised an initial £3,000. Now more gifts are needed from individuals and from Churches.
Gifts should be sent to Mrs Barbara Shaw, Church Mission Society, 157, Waterloo Road, London, SE1 8UU. Cheques should be made out to 'Church Mission Society' and marked for 'Anglican Ministry to the Persian Community'.
Barbara Shaw (email: email@example.com) can supply relevant gift aid and standing order forms for those who need them.
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