Report of the work of the Lord Wharton Charity – Autumn 2015
Having been encouraged to think about how the death of Jesus 2,000 years ago could change their lives today, the young people from the Cumbria Network of Youth Churches were each given a Bible from the Charitable Trust founded by Philip, 4th Lord Wharton who died 320 years ago.
Saturday 17th October saw nearly 100 young people drawn from across Cumbria to “Ablaze”, an event run by the Carlisle Diocese to support the county’s Youth Network drawn from the Anglican, Methodist and United Reformed Churches across Cumbria. The afternoon was spent in study, activities, talks and games culminating with worship led by a band from Whitehaven and an evangelistic call from Rev Chris Casey. The day ended with every young person taking home a copy of the Soul Survivor NIV Youth Bible funded by the Lord Wharton Bible Charity.
In 1692, four years before his death, Philip, 4th Lord Wharton put land and money into a trust to be used to give the children of Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire and Berkshire (the counties where he held land and had his various homes) a Bible. Over 1,000 were given every year. Ever since the Trust has followed his wishes and children and young people, having learnt a number of Psalms by heart, have received Bibles bearing his name. Many readers may have one in the house given to them or a relative from an earlier generation. The Charity Trustees are ordained ministers or lay people from the Methodist, Baptist, United Reformed Churches as well as the Church of England. Philip, Lord Wharton was from a Presbyterian background but supported toleration during a time of great upheaval including the English Civil War. He was a friend and critic of Oliver Cromwell but also spoke against the beheading of King Charles 1. His Bible charity was for children of Anglican and non-conformist churches.
Unfortunately the financial crash of 2008 badly affected the Charity’s finances and since then it has been impossible to make regular gifts; so it was also a great day this month for the Trustees to be able to resume this important work. The Lord Wharton Charity was represented by the Reverend Peter Sheasby (the Methodist Trustee) who heard Carolyn Dykes (the Project Development Officer for the Carlisle Diocese responsible for the Cumbria Churches Youth Network) speak at Germinate, a Conference held in October 2014 by the Arthur Rank Centre. She had explained about the work of the Network Youth Church in Cumbria and it seemed an ideal way of restarting the disbursement of Bibles in an area which was part of Lord Wharton’s initial bequest.