Friday, September 9, 2011

Introduction to EcoCongregation

"God's World": an evening with the Bishop of Reading exploring why and how to become an EcoCongregation.

At St John and St Stephen's Church, 121-147 Orts Road, Reading, RG1 3JN
Thursday 17th November, 7.30 - 9.30 pm.
Free entry, open to all denominations.
Bishop Andrew Proud will be speaking about the church's role in caring for the environment. There will be prayer, resources and stories from Berkshire EcoCongregations shared over fair trade refreshments.
Discover simple ways to help your church address the third and fifth marks of mission:
Responding to human need and safeguarding the integrity of Creation in the face of Climate Change, Peak Oil and a growing world population.

Please e-mail for further details and to confirm your attendance so that we can provide enough refreshments.

Creation Time

Last Sunday we opened Creation Time with a worship together service inspired by an organisation we encountered at Greenbelt: Test of Faith. We had some reservations about the theology expressed but they do have a very useful service plan on their website encouraging people to think about science and religion and the astonishing immensity of the cosmos. We adapted these, including an interview with one of our congregation's many scientists, Rachel. She said that her work made her realise how much 'bigger' and beyond our comprehension God is and for her awe in Creation often came from the very tiny things. The Test of Faith website has videos accompanying scripture readings which had my children transfixed. It was a service which engaged all ages and provoked plenty of discussion afterwards.

We also handed out Cafod's Live Simply prayer cards.

Greenbelt 2011

As usual a large group from St John and St Stephen's attended Greenbelt this year, many camping with members of our vicar's former church.

Last year I was disappointed by the sudden disappearance of the climate change issue. This year, as a CEL speaker noted, it was still scarcely on the speaker agenda. Nonetheless, perhaps still rubbing bruises after Copenhagen, it was very much an issue in the G-Source tent and similar spaces: Cafod are getting us to sign postcards to George Osborne, urging him 'Don't drop the ball on climate change' ahead of the talks in Durban later this year. Unicef are asking us to persuade the Chancellor and Climate Change Secretary to 'Get Children Climate Ready' by using a Robin Hood Tax and a tax on shipping and aviation fuels to provide the money that has been promised to help poor countries deal with the effects of climate change. The Salvation Army had a very family-friendly tent where they explained some of the actions their international development organisation are taking to help the most vulnerable to make responsible use of their resources and to adapt to climate change as well as urging people to make changes in their own lives and support Stop Climate Chaos. The Christian Aid tent was a fantastic rainforest venue with lots for the children to do and very much more high-tec cafe than the one I used to volunteer in! The picture of Richard and Rosemary above is taken from Christian Aid's website. There was a display (with accompanying excellent harvest festival materials) highlighting the development of saline resistant rice and crab farming that was being introduced to help Bangladeshi farmers cope with flooded fields and my seven-year-old was very enthusiastic to join in the photo petition to David Cameron asking for more action on climate change.

There were of course lots of specifically environmental groups in the G-Source tent too. Christian Ecology Link's session there was well attended and entertaining as well as inspiring. They suggested that our response to the catastrophe facing the planet might be charted according to the traditional graph of the grieving process - awareness, reaction, denial, frustration, letting go, testing, search for meaning, integration - and that a lot of us were at the lowest morale point 'letting go', needing to move forward. As well as being persuaded to take the plunge and look properly at their EcoCell scheme, the principal message I took home was the importance of working with others. There was also a useful workshop on Transition Towns which was attended by about a hundred people.