Monday, March 4, 2019

Lenten Challenges - Engaging the Powers

As we arrived at church yesterday we were each given a copy of the St John's and St Stephen's Creation Care Challenge for Lent 2019. Adapted by Richard C from a challenge used at St Aldate's in Oxford, it is a mixture of daily challenges, meditations, prayers and talking points to help us tread more lightly on the earth. This week's tasks are a gentle preparation - I think week three is when I'm going to start really struggling: when we get to avoiding plastic wrappings on our food.

After the service, and before the monthly church lunch (in aid of Bed for the Night this month) Hamish P shared some of his wisdom on another challenging topic - engaging the powers that keep people across our world in poverty. He began with Desmond Tutu's point:

“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

Then he explained the importance of educating ourselves on how the system works that keeps the poor poor and enables a tiny minority to be phenomenally rich, drawing especially on Walter Wink and Joseph Stiglitz. He'd brought a number of briefing papers, summarising key books on topics of globalisation, inequality and the economy. There is lots more to read and inspire action at

Saturday, February 2, 2019


Harvest was a long time ago now, but I forgot to put up these pictures at the time - the EcoGroup took over the service, choosing liturgy and songs to celebrate Creation, using homemade bread, an additional offertory prayer over the water, and collecting  produce for Readifood food bank. Mark's sermon drew on the readings, Joel 2:21-7 and Matthew 6:25-33, suggesting that harvest festivals matter today as a response to urbanisation, social isolation and the desire to slow down and reconnect with the natural world, acquring additional meaning now in our environmental crisis, highlighted by the IPCC's latest stark report. He invited us to understand Jesus's instruction 'Do not worry' as something very different from 'Do not care' - it means not allowing anxiety to consume us to the point of paralysis but instead to live hopefully and act accordingly. He concluded by inviting us to introduce new traditions to our harvest involving reducing our energy and meat consumption.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Bottle Top Voting

St John and St Stephen's have long made it our policy to give away 22% of our general income to a variety of projects (eg A Rocha, Christian Aid, Readifood, for more details see here). This Sunday the Community Partnership Committee asked the congregation to vote on who should receive a share of some extra funds that were available. It was a great opportunity to remind people who the different organisations are that we support. Voting was done, as in a supermarket, with bottle tops put into jars - and this doubled as a reminder that we recycle bottle tops for charity in church!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Walk the Country

As usual there was a large contingent from St John's on Christian Aid's Walk the Country near Henley this year - these included the Pathfinders group which I was with. It was, as ever, a glorious day (although it did mean missing the royal wedding).