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.
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.