Big Sing raises more than £3600 to furnish women teachers' hostel in Malawi

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The Big Sing was held in the Church of Scotland Assembly Hall in Edinburgh

More than 1,000 people sung their hearts out for Malawi and raised over £3,600 which will ultimately help to boost the life chances of women in the country.

Most of the money was raised through the Church of Scotland Guild's Big Sing event at the General Assembly Hall in Edinburgh and will be used to furnish 13 rooms in an accommodation block for student teachers in the community of Embangweni, Malawi.

The Church's World Mission Council has used legacy money bequeathed by Betty Walls of Edinburgh and Betty Bone of Dundee to build the so-called "Two Betty's Hostel, which can accommodate 80 young women while they train to be teachers, at Louden CCAP Mission.

The ten hymns sung earlier this week were chosen using an online poll via the Guild's Facebook page and e-news and were as follows:

· O for a thousand tongues to sing
· Just as I am
· I, the Lord of sea and sky
· Be still for the presence of the Lord
· How great thou art
· The Lord's my shepherd
· Great is thy faithfulness
· I heard the voice of Jesus say
· Make way, make way
· Jesus I have promised

Bible readings were given by National Guild committee conveners, the National and Vice-Conveners and Guild staff members between songs.

A short and moving reflection on 'peace' was given by former Moderator the Very Rev Albert Bogle who also led everyone in an impromptu acapela chorus as part of his opening worship.

A highlight of the evening was a presentation by the Rev Dr Levi Nyondo, General Secretary of CCAP Livingstonia Synod in Malawi

The offering from the event joins the money raised at the last Big Sing held in Dunfermline Abbey in November 2015.

A generous donation of £154.08 from a Big Sing satellite event held in Greenock on Tuesday.

The Guild, which unveiled a new tartan at the Heart and Soul festival, has a long-standing connection to Malawi, particularly to the Umanyano Woman's Guild and the Men's Guild.

Guild General Secretary Iain Whyte said: "The Guild describes its work under three headings...worship, prayer and action, with fellowship in there too.

"The Big Sing at the General Assembly showed all of these in abundance and the evening of praise that brought together over 1,000 people demonstrated just what an amazing asset to the Church we have in the Guild."

Bigsing More than 1000 people took part in the event

Eilidh Marks, Guild Associate Secretary, added: "I think there is perhaps a tendency by some in the Kirk to 'pat the Guild on the head' and just let them get on with whatever they're doing.

"But actually, the Big Sing and other events show the Guild as a force for good to be reckoned with - it is a dynamic movement which sees needs and seeks to make a difference.

"By using the Big Sing offering to furnish rooms in Louden Teacher Training College, the Guild is taking a stand for education and equal rights for women across the world, standing with our brothers and sisters in Malawi to show we care."

Dr Nyondo said he was 'amazed by the continuing generosity of the Guild and delighted that through the twinning relationship between the Guild in Scotland and Malawi, strong bonds continue to flourish'.

He also commented on how Livingstonia Synod Education Department has made a strategic decision to have a special focus on the training of female teachers as it is recognised this helps in keeping girls in school.

The furniture will be made locally, giving a job to local carpenters.

It is hoped that the hostel will be fully operational by the start of the next school year.