As usual there was a large group of St John's congregation at Greenbelt this year. The theme, Saving Paradise, was inspired by a book of that title (subtitled: How Christianity Traded Love of this World for Crucifixion and Empire) whose authors were among the speakers (I know Alison made it to a couple of their sessions, I'm planning to download the talks when I get a chance). Both a lovely mini garden at the centre and Soul Space were themed on the four elements (my youngest would happily have spent a lot longer at both) and this theme also flowed through the Sunday Morning Communion - the sunniest part of the festival this year. Indeed we did experience the elements very much with strong wind, lightning,and torrential rain sending rivers along the paths and turning part of the site into a lake of mud (which the children loved even if some of us struggled with it!) There was a venue especially devoted to environmental issues, named Eden - Paul Kerensa opened in there with a genuinely funny take on climate change. Around the side of it were some inspiring small sets including an inspiring piece on SPEAK's Bardic Bike Tour that Fish had set up (maybe others did too, I just happened to see Fish in there).
I started this blog in November 2007 as a resource and a record of our church's journey towards becoming an EcoCongregation. In May 2009 we were assessed for the award and passed. It was due for renewal in 2012 but due to significant plans for rebuilding our church/school plant it seemed appropriate to wait a while. Once EcoCongregation was relaunched as EcoChurch we registered and found our results were mixed: gold for 'worship', silver for 'community and global', but only bronze for 'lifestyle' and 'buildings' (and not enough land to count). In February 2019 a new survey indicated we'd made it to silver with 'lifestyle' and 'buildings' too. So now we have a new challenge ...
I hope that church members will find the blog useful and that it is also helpful to others with a concern for our environment. Please use any of the liturgy, green tips or ideas on it as you like. It would be lovely to hear back if you do. It would also be great to hear ideas and experiences from other churches.
The views expressed herein are my own and may not reflect those of all of the congregation.
The church of St John and St Stephen in Newtown, Reading is attached to a school with minimal green space. The Sunday morning congregation (about 70 from an electoral roll of just over 100) includes a wide range of ages and backgrounds and has long been concerned with overseas development issues (we are a Fairtrade church who support Tearfund and Christian Aid and several mission organisations. A number of the congregation are or have been involved in development and/or overseas mission). This concern was the inspiration for the decision to try to become an EcoCongregation back in 2007.