Sunday, December 2, 2012


The Church's New Year started with a lovely Worship Together service themed on the Jesse Tree. We wrote the names of those in our own spiritual family trees on colourful luggage tags that became the decorations for a very Christmassy looking Jesse Tree.
Over coffee Rosemary told me about the Greenbelt ADVENTurous event she attended yesterday and in particular Ruth Valerio's talk in which she said that it is now generally accepted that there will be a 4C rise in the earth's temperature, (this used to be something we considered the high end of possibilities).Overall it was a bleak picture, although there were some local positive events going on. Later I headed round checking up the thermostats - disappointed to find that every radiator in the refectory was on max.
We did enjoy a lovely church meal with spectacularly good veggie moussaka.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Life in all its fullness

We began the Season of Creation last Sunday with a Worship Together service on the theme of Life in all its Fullness which included some great songs from Greenbelt worship. Afterwards we had a simple but delicious vegetarian meal - it's great when autumn arrives and the puddings start clearly coming from people's gardens (in our case it was the raspberry harvest which has been excellent this year).

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Saving Paradise

Bruce Cockburn in the Big Top
 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).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

sMeasure so far

I put up a couple of charts on the EcoCongregation notice board showing energy use and carbon dioxide emissions in recent weeks. These charts are just for the gas in the refectory (where there are various meetings during the week) and for the electricity. There was a very obvious dip in electricity use during the Easter holiday (2-16 April) when the children were not in school, although curiously not in the gas (despite fewer meetings). Gas did dip in the good weather before the holiday. Technically, I think, since we use Ecotricity New Energy Plus the CO2 measurement for the electricity might be discounted although it would still be good to reduce the usage!


As recycling facilities in Reading have improved our micro-recycling at church has changed. I put this poster up a couple of weeks ago to summarise what we do now.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Christian Aid week approaching

After this Sunday's fantastic Taize Worship Together we had our usual first-Sunday-of-the-month lunch together. It was, as it commonly is, meat free, and the profits from the donations given afterwards will all go to Christian Aid this week.

In between the service and the meal Sarah from the Oxford Christian Aid office gave us an inspiring talk on this year's Christian Aid week theme 'Let's give the tools to help people out of poverty'.

As well as encouraging us to remember that lots of us doing a little together makes a huge difference, she mentioned that there are lots of 'alternative' ways to give to Christian Aid. She cited the Good Little Company's ethical sausages available in Waitrose (I was astonished that 7p a pack would add up to such a large sum, although I'm afraid I forgot to note it down). At the Christian Aid website there is a whole list of different ways to support them including through Traidcraft, Ecotricity and Triodos Banking, as well as cartridge recycling, internet access . . . .

In the meantime we have our own alternative means of giving because Hugh and Judy have wonderfully invited us to a barn dance to celebrate their anniversary and asked that all gifts should be donations to Christian Aid.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Measuring the Carbon Footprint

When we were assessed for our EcoCongregation award the major issue we were asked to address was measuring our carbon footprint. It's something I've nonetheless been putting off because the whole thing seems so complex - on a household basis two different calculators can give widely varying results.

However, Oxford diocese have now made it impossible to resist by engaging with sMeasure to allow all churches in the diocese to use their energy measuring software free for this year as part of a pilot project in the hope that the wider Church of England will be involved in subsequent years. Two weeks ago I finally bit the bullet and set up an account. Unfortunately it is impossible to measure the energy use of the church separately from that of St John's school, although some sort of guestimate is possible based on the proportion of bills we've agreed to pay. This Monday I put in my second readings and discovered that the combined school and church emissions of carbon dioxide for the past week came to just over 2 tonnes. Sobering information.

The same software is available for any domestic household to use for free through iMeasure. It is really quite easy even for a technophobe like me and I can see the urge to get those measurements down could be quite constructive.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Solar update

I thought we would be the only cyclists arriving in yesterday's snow but actually there were already two bikes chained up and more inside for those who had been at the Homelessness Sunday sleepover.

Further donations have now brought the total raised from the Clutter Sale to £180. Exclaimers' panel can now be seen on New Christ Church's virtual roof. Thank you to the congregation members who also supported New Christ Church's Bollywood Evening which raised over £500 (thanks to Alamin Tandoori's generous donation of food at a much reduced cost).

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Solar Clutter Sale

Thank you to everyone who donated or spent this morning. Exclaimers are delighted to announce that we raised £155 at today's Clutter Sale. This will be split between New Town Primary School in our parish and New Christ Church Primary School which is attended by James and Matthew. If anyone would like to send in any more money to help raise funds for the schools' solar panels, please go to and find the school you would like to donate to. Or speak to Hugh or myself about contributing to a church donation.

We had a fantastic spread of donations and I know Mark is very happy with the coffee maker he brought back and the boys have been having great fun with the remote control helicopter! All the non electrical goods that were not sold are now on their way to the Communicare shop. Helen is trying to find a charity shop that will take the electrical goods for us.