St Peter / Balsall Common

As part of the Church of England in Birmingham Diocese, we also have strong links with the church in Malawi, including an annual Container of goods sent from Birmingham. We are in regular contact with Agnes Mkoko, who keeps us up to date with what's happening!

The Container arrived in Blantyre, Malawi nearly 2 weeks ago (at the start of October) but was held up because of some discrepancy in the paperwork. However, that has now been resolved and it has been unloaded at Blantyre and Lilongwe. Claire has heard from Agnes and others that they have received our packages. Although not yet opened and distributed they ask her to pass on their sincere thanks. As one said: “Thank you very much for all those items you sent, may the Lord bless you abundantly for all you are doing for us.”

A Message from Malawi - Agnes Mkoko writes:

Hello how are you over there?
Sad to hear about the death of the Queen, she was such a humble and lovely Queen. Loved by many. Malawi is one of the Commonwealth countries, so we mourn with you and in Malawi we have one of our referral hospital named after her, it is called Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital situated in Blantyre.
Our Prayers are with you all over there .

May Her Soul Rest In Eternal Peace.

As our team were packing this (2022) year's gifts to go into the Container, Agnes was also busy! She wrote - 

Hello - how are you all over there? How are all the dear Brothers and Sisters of St Peter's? My greetings to (you) all.  I still remember my visit to St Peter's! This year I renewed my Mothers' Union vows after 50 years as a member of the MU - 'Golden Jubilee'! (See photos) - Love & Prayers, Agnes.

Click on this link to watch a short video of the dancing Malawi MU in Agnes' church!!

and on this link for the lighting of candles - and more dancing

or follow this link to the Diocesan website page on Malawi

Agnes wrote last year with real concern for *us*: Hello .... How are you over there?

I am just concerned about you dear ones over there, after hearing about Storm Dudley and Storm Eunice, are you okay Mama? May the Lord continue taking care of you all over there..
Here Storm Anna has gone just leaving after effects. (Here she sent us a short video clip showing the whole village heaving on a rope to extract a van from the flooded road!)

But we are hearing about another storm Dumako on the way, and we are still experiencing heavy rains, which contains to damage houses, roads, bridges crops. But we have Faith in Almighty God, it will come to an end.

She attached photographs showing the baby clothes knitted by members of our church in use:  

A pile of knitted squares for blankets, and hats for babies!

Agnes, and the gifts in use!


We have also been sent a picture of Bishop Francis, who has visited our church, in special mitre and cope to celebrate 100 years of Mothers Union in Malawi: (You can read a letter from him below)


You may like to read more of the story behind the Malawi Container as seen from point of view of St Peter's Church, written by Claire Laland and Alison Bennett: see (click on)

Last year, Claire heard from Agnes, once the container had arrived: 

'Dear Mama Claire,

Greetings! The container has finally arrived and we have received the packages.

May the Lord bless you abundantly, we don' t take this for granted, we really appreciate. May you please pass on my sincere thanks and appreciations to all who were helping you to source and pack all these items, may the good Lord bless them abundantly.

The rains have started, but they come with storms, some people have lost their lives due to lightning, some houses falling down, our security fence also fell down due to heavy rains. We are just praying for good rains without destroying things.

Once again thank you very much for all your kindness, may you please pass on my sincere thanks and appreciations to all those who have assisted you in sending these items, may the Lord bless them abundantly.

Greetings to all friends at St. Peter's.' 

We heard from Bishop Alinafe, during the COVID emergency, who wrote to Claire:

Dear Mama Claire,

Good morning.

We are well and holding together as a family. We have all received the vaccine, my wife Mercy, our two girls - Mphatso and Alinane, and myself. We have encouraged everyone to go for the jab, some have others are resisting, that’s how it goes! We lost one priest to Covid, and more than 15 clergy and wives got sick but recovered. Bishop James and our Diocesan Secretary tested positive as well but are all fine by now. God’s grace is sufficient in our weaknesses and moments of need! As of now, the third wave is here and is taking a lot of lives, more than 20 deaths every day! God will spare those who have not concluded their mission on earth!

This pandemic has paralyzed church operations. We are only getting about 45% of our monthly revenue, making it very difficult to make decisions and meet Diocesan payroll and other mission needs! But God is our hope and our life.

Thank you so much for always being there for us, for your Christian heart and concern for others, that’s the Jesus mind. We will report back once we receive and distribute the items.

Peace to you, Mama Canon Claire, and every blessing to your family

The Right Reverend Alinafe Kalemba

if you have any questions or want to make a donation, you can contact Claire on this link.

Earlier, in May, last year, we held a “Malawi” service with some pictures from Agnes - she has now been able to view the service online, and writes:


I am sorry that I didn't manage to view the service on 30th May, 2021, due to internet problems. But thank you very for the website, I did manage to view the service through the website you sent me. It was such a lovely service, I really enjoyed, you were waving to me, that was fantastic, may the Lord bless you all abundantly.

I watched everything up to the end, saw our choir singing and dancing, once again thank you very much, may the Lord continue taking care of you all over there.

Best regards.


You can also watch that service - Just click on this link….

If you would like to support Agnes and the other workers of the Dioceses of Malawi, please consider making a donation! Envelopes can be found in the church which is open for private prayer on most days during daylight hours. Cheques should be made payable to St Peter’s PCC and donations can either be left in church or at the Vicarage, St Peter’s House, next to the church.

If you are interested in Malawi, you might enjoy this version of 'The Blessing' sung by the boys of a Malawian orphanage ... 

Here's another update about events in Malawi:

Letter from Malawi – May 2021

Greetings from Malawi!

This is our winter in Malawi, the coldest month is June, but our winter is not like the English winter, not as cold as the U.K. winter, at least we can see and feel the sun's heat.

In Malawi we have new President his name is Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, and his Vice President is Dr. Saulos Chilima.

In Malawi we are also suffering from this deadly pandemic Corona virus, which claimed a lot of lives, but not as it did in the U.K. We are encouraged to observe the social distancing, washing of hands wearing of Face masks and use of Sanitizer for those who can afford. We still attend church services.

I do help those in prisons, like teaching some skills to the women prisoners, made some Protective Face masks to some prisoners, also school children, Help women with skills, also sewing classes. But with the problem of this Covid 19, we haven't been meeting, at a certain period schools were closed due to the Corona virus. But the situation has improved, less infections, less deaths, we really thank God for His unfailing love and mercy.

The M.U. do a lot of activities, like visiting and cheering the sick, the bereaved families, taking care of orphans, the aged, hold Bible studies, some of them do preach in Church, do marriage counselling and many more.

Greetings to all friends.

God bless.


I have sent you the video with the dancing choir of our Church, this is our outstation, they use a rented classroom as they don't have a Church building. This choir is from our main Parish, they went to worship with their friends there. I also went with them.

Earlier she had written that she had received her first Covid vaccine and was due for the 2nd in May. That is really good news to know that the vaccine has reached Malawi. She says the situation re Covid is improving slowly. She also asks to pass this message to us:

“This Covid has brought a lot of misery to so many people. But we still put our Trust into the Lord, He is still in Control. We shall overcome one day. Please pass on my Easter greetings to all Brothers and Sisters at St. Peter's Church. May the Lord continue taking care of you all, dear Mum in Christ.”

We had two letters last September (18/09/2020) from Agnes! With some excellent pictures of what she has been doing in Malawi with the schools, to help combat COVID-19 there!

Greetings from Malawi!

How are you over there? This is just to say hello. How is the situation like over there now with this Corona Virus pandemic? Are you still in lockdown?

How is everyone at the Church? Have you started attending church services?

Here we are fine, the Corona virus infection is reducing, which is good news to us. We really thank God for His mercies. This Corona Virus pandemic has brought misery among people all over the world. But God is still in Control.

Greetings to the family and all Brothers and Sisters in Christ at St. Peter's.

God bless.


(And a second letter)


Thank you very much for the email ..... But we still know God is in control.

Yes, I remember that beautiful Farm shop restaurant.

Thank you for sharing your website, glad to hear that you do out some news from Malawi.

I just thought of sending you these photos which were taken after I had donate some Face masks to one of the rural Primary schools. This school in a rural remote place, the students in the photos are a Standard 8 pupils who are about to sitnfor their Primary school leaving Exams in two weeks time.

The school lacks a lot of Educational materials, such as exercise books, pencils and pens, paper, even reading books ( like a library), their toilets, very dilapidated, it even reminded me of the Toilet twinning, I remembered those toilets in the Church on that day I visited. See the toilets in one of the photos.

I still want to go back to this School to go and help the girls on how to make re-usable Sanitary pads, as it is a necessity to the girls.

Most of them cannot manage to buy from the shops. I just pray the Lord may give me the strength, as it at a distance from where I leave, needs transport too. But I know the Lord will provide as the Bible teaches us not to be anxious about tomorrow. Mathew 6: 34.

May you please pass on my sincere greetings to the Vicar, and to all Brothers and Sisters at St. Peter's.

God bless.










We also have this picture of our friend Agnes, distributing water dispensers and soap to villagers to help with their hygiene - especially important  to fight the risk of COVID19- 

Presidential Election

The Presidential election held in 2019 was overturned by the Constitutional court due to fraud or irregularity.The court ordered the election to be rerun this year and Opposition Leader, Lazarus Chakwera, was elected defeating the incumbent Peter Muthanka with 58.7% of the vote. Lazarus Chakwera is a theologian, pastor and former President of the Malawi Assemblies of God.

The previous President accepted the result of the 2020 election and sent congratulations to the newly elected President and Vice-President. This is the first time an opposition leader in Northern sub-Sahara Africa has won a voting return after a previous result has been overturned. So congratulations to the Malawi people that this happened without violence and within the legal framework.

Everyone is very excited and as Baird, one of my friends there said, ‘My cheeks are flowing with tears of joy for electing new presidency for this country. We trust there is going to be deep relief for this country’.

In his speech after being sworn in the President said, ‘With your help we will restore faith in having a government that serves; not a government that rules, a government that inspires, not a government that infuriates, a government that listens, not a government that shouts but a government that fights for you and not against you’ .

I have received many messages of thanks for our prayers during this difficult time.

COVID – 19

However Malawi has still to cope with the Corona Virus. Although the virus has not spread as quickly as was feared it does now seem to be taking a hold. A total of 24 deaths have been recorded and attributed to the virus but 5 deaths were recorded yesterday. A big increase. They think this is probably due to workers returning from South Africa. Hundreds of returnees are expected to arrive in Malawi this week, raising fears that cases will increase even more. A survey shows that 82% of Malawians are more scared of hunger than being infected by the virus. Social distancing is difficult due to most people living day to day and often in very crowded conditions. Advice re procedures and hygiene etc has been sent to the Bishops based on experiences in Birmingham.

The schools have now been closed and the staff are requesting buckets and soap for when they are able to return. We are looking at the best way to help them. Mothers’ Union are busy making masks and PPE equipment. A side effect of the schools being closed in Malawi is that many young girls are being pressurised into getting married as their education has come to a halt. Please remember them in your prayers.

Thanks to you all for your continued support and prayers for our brothers and sisters in Malawi. If you require more information please contact me on

Canon Claire Laland, Malawi Task Group and Mothers’ Union

Prayer points

Give thanks for the election of Lazarus Chakwera and that he will quickly win the trust and confidence of all of the people of Malawi. Ask for wisdom as he appoints his new cabinet.

Pray for children unable to attend school especially those who are now expected to marry.

Pray for those suffering from Covid-19 especially in the rural areas where water is not readily available

Every year we send gifts in the annual container which is sent from Birmingham. Two years ago we also made greetings cards which were given by the children to Revd. Isaac Phiri, who was able to visit our church. He has taken them to share with the people of Upper Shire Diocese in Malawi! 

You can click here to see the Facebook post about this!

At the start of our Lockdown, we received the following letter from Agnes, our friend and correspondent in Malawi: it was sent to Claire Laland to share - 

Dear Mama Claire,

Thank you very much for this informative email. I was just thinking about you now before receiving your email. You are in our prayers, we have prayers every morning at our Church, it is a very difficult and worrying situation, as we hear in radios and televisions. Very sad to hear about thr cancellation of Church services, and for people being in doors most of the time, this is a very difficult and sad situation indeed.

We here some African countries have been affected too, we here African countries like Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia. Most of our people do Business in these countries, so it is most likely it will affect Malawi too. But the Malawi Government through the ministry of Health are encouraging and educating people on how to prevent the Corona virus problem, like washing of hands, avoiding crowded places, handshakes.

But in Malawi it is difficult, like the crowded buses, crowded markets, even crowded hospitals. If the developed world are worried, it will be difficult for countries like to contain it as hospitals don't have enough equipment for testing the virus.

My dear mama Claire, as believers, Christians, may we just put our trust in God the creator, God takes care of everyone, the elderly and the young ones, He does not choose. He was there, He is there, and He is still there for us all. Don't despair the Lord is always there for you. He took care of the Israelites in those 40 years in the wilderness, it is the same God who will eradicate this deadly Corona virus.

May we continue praying to God to give Wisdom and Knowledge to the medical personnel to find proper ways if eradicating this deadly Corona virus, and find the proper treatment.

Jesus is always there, and promised us, if we ask anything from Him it shall be given, but we should pray with Faith.

May the Lord continue taking care of you during this trying time of the CORONA VIRUS.


God bless.