Welcome to the Areopagus!


These are the homepages of Stephen Welch and Christina Ngozi Welch (née Oniah), located on the Acropolis in the geocity of Athens. They are named Areopagus after the stony hilltop SW of the Acropolis where, in ancient times, philosophers, civic elders and religious leaders met to discuss the issues of the day.

When the apostle Paul arrived in Athens, he met with the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers in the Areopagus to debate with them and tell them what he knew about God through Jesus Christ. Some of this is described in the bible in the book of Acts. In the account of this, Paul says that God made all things and that:

"God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him,
though he is not far from each one of us."
He went on to quote their own poetry:

"For in him we live and move and have our being ... we are his offspring."

Paul's view is that we can't just wait for God to find us, but need to search for him. The first section on this page lists useful Christian resources for anyone who wants to question or think about the Christian faith. These include Christian thought and apologetics (not apologies, but reasoned arguments in support of Christianity).

The other bits of the page are more bits of info about us and our (mainly Stephen's, so far!) interests.

Stephen works in fire research; he studied engineering and specialised in combustion modelling at Cranfield University, UK where he did his PhD. He worked for the Fire Research Station, UK, on computer simulation of fires in buildings until 2004 when he commenced work as a lecturer in the Fire Group at Edinburgh University. A brief selection of fire and combustion links is listed below.

Christina also studied at Cranfield University where she completed her MSc in Environmental Diagnostics. She did her thesis on "Developing a new biofilm detection method based on piezoelectric crystal biosensors" at VTT in Finland. Having worked for a few years at Aventis Pharma in validation and QC, she most recently worked for GlaxoSmithKline in regulatory affairs.

Stephen has an interest in birds and enjoys "sea-watching" and searching for rare migrants on small islands off the British coast. Some Bird links including current bird news (UK, EU, US) and infomation on international campaigns are listed below. The same information is also provided on a standalone page here.

Christina's family are from Onitsha, Nigeria and we've listed a few Nigerian information links.

We have a daughter, Joanne Obiageli, (19/9/03) and more recently a son, Michael Chinedu, (18/10/06).

Finally, there's a collection of other links.

All pages with original content are marked with a "pog" icon thus:

Christianity links

There's masses of stuff out there! If you would like to see a brief Christian response to some of the classic tough questions (like "What about suffering?"), try the Thumbnails near the top of the Thinktank. If you'd like a more interactive presentation, check out WuzupGod? - watch out for those graphics! For more weighty apologetics, try the apologetics section further down in the Thinktank or the comprehensive list under Crosssearch/Apologetics. The latter includes responses to some other religions, including Islam.

Good general resource lists can be found under Christian Resources, the Stained glass web guide, Crosssearch (which includes a search engine) and an excellent UK site is UK Christian web. fish.co.uk is a UK Christian ISP with an interesting site. Classic Christian literature is found in the Ethereal library. Christians in Science produce a quality journal Science and Christian Belief.

Of course, there are many who reject the Christian worldview. Jeff Lowder has produced a comprehensive rebuttal to a popular Christian apologetic, Josh McDowell's "Evidence that demands a verdict". Also, the literature of Thomas Paine is often quoted. However, even a cursory look at these writings reveals assumptions and statements that to a Christian are quite unreasonable, and others are producing new material to demonstrate this.

Some background about Stephen's own Christian story and other thoughts is linked here. Other links are for couple of friends ( Patrick and Phil ), New Wine church in London, an exciting growing church where our college-mate is pastor, Crusaders, where other friends work, our local church, Christina's church, an organisation we support (Iris ministries).

Finally, I strongly believe that Christians need to take a stand on moral and ethical issues. The fish.co.uk website has a section on ethical shopping. Of more serious concern to many is the stance taken by the United States on war with Iraq. Some courageous individuals are leading the campaign against this, e.g. the Moveon organisation, and I've recently developed a linked page with information for the UK.

Christianity Thinktank
Christian Resources (primenet)
Christian web guide (stainedglass solutions)
Guide to Early Church Documents (ICL)
Crosssearch Christian resource list
UK Christian web
'Areopagus defined' site
Isizoh comments on Paul's Areopagus speech
Christian classics ethereal library
Christians in Science
Mission Aviation Fellowship
Give some food to a hungry person - free (seriously!)
Give a bible to someone who really needs it - also free!
Cranfield Christian Union
Bible gateway
Jeff Lowder on Josh McDowell's "Evidence"
The secular net: Thomas Paine
Comments on writings of Jeff Lowder
Stephen's Christian story and other musings
Patrick's Patch
Philip's Home Page
New Wine church, London
Crusaders Youth page (requires Flash 5)
Longniddry Parish Church (our local church, where Stephen is an elder
St Luke's church, Bricket Wood (our previous church)
All Souls, Langham Place (our other previous church)
Iris Ministries
Moveon peace campaign
No war UK information

Fire/combustion links

Stephen attended Banchory Primary School and Banchory Academy on Royal Deeside. He began his engineering studies at Cambridge University, and later moved to nearby Cranfield University, UK where he specialised in combustion modelling and undertook his PhD research. He worked for the Fire Research Station, UK before moving to the Fire Group at Edinburgh University in 2004 where he is lecturer in Computational Methods for Fire Safety Engineering. His main research interest is the development of computer-based methodologies for simulation of fires in buildings and transport applications, mainly using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software, for example, the research code known as SOFIE.

Cranfield University combustion modelling homepage
Fire Research Station, UK
Page set up for ISO TC92 "Fire Safety"
Page set up for ECSC NFSC3 project
SOFIE CFD fire simulation software
NIST fire page
Worcester Polytechnic Institute fire page
SP - Swedish National Testing and Research Institute
VTT, Finland
List of papers

Nigeria links

Amongst these, the "West Africa news service" has the advantage of being able to select news by subject.

West Africa news service
Chuck Odili's Home Page
Nigeria newswires
Nigeria Exchange
Wazobia links
Nigerian languages
Onitsha Ado
Useful anti-malaria advice for travellers
Trip report and pictures from our trip to Nigeria, Nov 2002

Bird links

Stephen could be described as a 'birder' (rather than a 'twitcher'), and did most of his early birding near his parent's home in Banchory on Royal Deeside, Scotland. This is a great area for birds, and he has seen nearly 200 species in Grampian region. He has spent some of his holidays on Skye (1977, 1978, 2001), Harris & Lewis (1981), Rhum (1988), Orkney (North Ron) (1980,1989), Shetland (1990), the Faroe islands (1990), Cape Clear Island (County Cork) (1996), Bardsey Island (1997), around Land's End in Cornwall (including seawatching off Porthgwarra) (1998), Enoshima Island, near Toyko, Japan (1999), Anglesey/North Wales (including sea-watching from the South Stack and the Great Orme) (2000), the Outer Hebrides, including Barra, South Uist, Benbecula and North Uist (Jul 2001), around St David's Head in Pembrokeshire (including seawatching off Strumble Head) (Oct 2001), St Abbs Head and Barns Ness in SE Scotland (Aug 2002) and most recently from Morte Point in North Devon (May 2003). His best find was a Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), a native of the Eastern Mediterranean, which he came across at the Loch of Strathbeg, Grampian, on 27th September 1986. A summary of some of his other records is included and also a list he's recently put together of some of the most incredible bird records of all time in the Western Palearctic, including a more detailed documents about the about the recent occurrences of Swinhoe's Petrel and Elegant Tern in the North Atlantic.

For those who don't have time to get out to look for birds, observation of garden wildlife can also be a very rewarding hobby. Regular observation can contribute to long-term scientific research on bird populations, e.g. through the BTO's "Garden Birdwatch" scheme, and can even turn up rarities - e.g. a Serin over our garden in Watford on 26th August 2001. I've put together a linked page on garden bird listing.

There's lots of other bird information on the web and one of the best sites for general bird information is the Fatbirder website which has over 1400 pages of information covering many countries. Some other sites providing bird news are listed below. The online library available from birdguides is a wonderful resource for information about species occuring in Britain (distribution maps, colour photos etc.).

A sadder aspect of bird-watching is where man's greed and commercial pressures combine to put rare species under pressure and in some cases lead to decimation of native bird populations. In Europe these issues are particularly accute in some Mediterranean countries, such as Malta and Cyprus, where there has been a long tradition in killing vast quantities of migrant birds by a variety of means. For example, it is estimated that over 500 million birds were shot or trapped in Meditterranean counties last year, the vast majority of which are "fully protected", i.e. it is illegal to kill them. But even here in the UK, rare species are routinely persecuted by those with an interest in doing so, and the penalties for any who are caught are similarly small.

Pressure is now being applied to those countries which turn a blind eye to illegal persecution of birds, via various international campaigns. This may be particularly pertinent in some cases where the nations concerned are applying for full membership of the EU. I have developing a brief new page providing some more information about these matters.

The Fatbirder website
Ocean Wanderers - comprehensive seabirds site
Birding on the net - vast US site with lots of mailing list archives
Surfbird - great site on rare birds and ID with latest rarity photos
Birdguides UK rarity news - real-time with links to species and sites
Birdguides current UK rarity map
Birdcall UK rarity news - organised by county
Birdnet UK rarity news - from pager reports
Birdlinks UK rarity news - round-up of last few days
Grampian & North Ron Bird News
Herts Bird News
Fair Isle Bird News
Birding Scotland
Scottish Ornithologists' Club
The North Sea Bird Club
Irish Birding (includes summary of European news)
Icelandic bird news
Dutch bird news
Danish bird news; includes Faroes and Greenland!
Norwegian bird news
Swedish bird news (mainly in Swedish)
Heligoland birds (fantastic site - includes archive of all significant sightings since 1830!)
Bavarian bird news
Spanish bird news
Russian bird conservation
US alerting service
Another large US site
Birding Africa
A really good South African site
EuroTwitch/European Birdnet - free emailed rarities news
WorldTwitch - world news
The British Trust for Ornithology
British Birds journal
Summary of the status of the European "Birds directive" (1979)
PROACT website
Malta Tourist Action
Beautiful bird photos

Our pages


Trip report and pictures from our 2002 trip to Nigeria
Discussion of identification of Plain-backed and Long-legged Pipits seen in Nigeria
Trip report and pictures from our recent trip to the USA


Garden birding
Garden bird log for our former garden in SE England
Garden bird log for a garden in NE Scotland
Garden bird log for our current garden in Longniddry, near Edinburgh
An annotated garden list for Garston, Hertfordshire, England
An annotated garden list for Banchory, Kincardineshire, Scotland
A comparison of the above garden lists (100kB zipped - requires MS Excel)
HTML version of the Garden bird comparison spreadsheet
An annotated compound list for my wife's family home in Festac Town, Lagos, Nigeria
An annotated yard list for my brother-in-law's home in San Jose, California


My local patches
Study of Herring Gulls from central London roosting at Hilfield Park Resr, 2004
An annotated species list for the Grove Mill area, Hertfordshire, England
Personal survey of a local wood, Watford, 2002 (Excel version)
Information on large gulls wintering in Banchory area, 1984-2004
An annotated species list for the Loch of Leys, Kincardineshire, Scotland
Analysis of Banchory Waxwing records
My other bird records


Gallery - my digiscoped pictures
A few gull photos


Western Palaearctic - incredible bird records
Swinhoe's Petrel
Elegant Tern
Recent articles on Slender-billed Curlew


Persecution of birds in Europe"

Other links

PNE, the 'original and best' UK football team
Soccerbot, a good place to check the score

IT/web links

Blue Mountain - environmentally-friendly cards
Nice ASCII pictures!
Key to web shorthands (emoticoms)
Other more conventional graphics (clipart)
Fight spam

Send us a message (or email: steve_extra "at" yahoo.com/chistina_extra "at" yahoo.co.uk)

Pages created Feb 1997, last updated 10 May 2008; you are visitor number:

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