Sunday, October 27, 2013


Hugh tells me that Ecotricity CEO Dale Vincent was on Broadcasting House this morning and well worth listening to. Their decision not to join in the Big Six's price hike is much appreciated since our church uses their electricity. It also means that their 'frack free' gas is now cheaper than that of the Big Six (they're working on building green gas mills in Britain so hopefully more people will get on board and make this possible).

Creation Season

Once more at St John's we have been celebrating Creation Season over the months of September and October (rather than returning briefly to Ordinary Time between Creation and Kingdom seasons). The children's work has been re-organised so that the service for all the family (first Sunday of the month) is a communion service and for this year they are themed on the seasons of the church's year, naturally beginning with harvest. The week before that we have Children's Praise Plus - all children together in the refectory for songs with the worship group followed by craft activities that can be used for the following service. The second sunday I lead: all the children over 3 are together for Godly Play. For the two Godly Play sessions of Creation Time we looked at the two Creation stories (I had to invent the script etc for the second one and included the fall and expulsion) - it was a chance to talk about the value of these stories even if we don't take them literally, what they tell us about the world as a gift to treasure, of attempts to understand suffering and of the impact on the many of greed/power grabbing by a few. I was interested that when asked how God felt about the eating of the forbidden fruit most of the children spoke not of God's anger but God's disappointment and 'heartbreak'. The moment when God provides clothes for Adam and Eve as they leave Eden made a big impression and is (allegedly!) depicted in the picture above, along with a playdough angel wielding a flaming sword.


Over the summer there were several events organised by members of the congregation to encourage people to enjoy our beautiful world together - a picnic, a walk and a cycle ride. My family were away all summer but I understand the walk was particularly successful. We came back to that wonderful season when people bring in their excess crops to share and benefited from pears, damsons and grapes - thank you!


 Last June 8th many of the congregation joined the Enough Food for Everyone IF demonstration in London. It was an inspirational event and the sort of occasion, like Greenbelt, for bumping into lots of old friends too. I've been disorganised on my photos, hence the long delay in posting this. I did write more fully on the church facebook page at the time.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Enough Food for Everyone IF

Ahead of the IF event this coming Saturday, I used some of the IF schools materials with Exclaimers a couple of weeks ago. These include a slide show which starts with a question - Is there enough food for everyone in the world? Most of the kids assumed not. I was so struck by the response of one of them when I explained that actually there was: Gasp, 'But that's so NAUGHTY! Why don't the government do something about it?'

Walk the Country

Sorry this is rather a late post! We concluded Christian Aid Week in thoroughly green fashion this year by joining their Walk the Country sponsored walk from Bix.

At least 20 of the congregation were there for a beautiful walk through bluebell woods and fields in perfect walking weather. My eldest was determined to get round in time to enjoy the Good Little Company's barbecue - very delicious sausages and donations go to Christian Aid for every pack bought.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Recycling jewellery and other 'stuff'

Flower NecklaceAt Exclaimers today we looked at the lectionary reading from John (the last part of Jesus's prayer in Gethsemane) in which Jesus prays for unity among his followers and we thought about some of the ways in which Christians who disagree on some things still work together on others, Christian Aid being an apt example: the notices this morning included the last call to join many church members on next week's sponsored walk or the mentally strenuous challenge of the Christian Aid quiz (entries £1).

The children then set up tables with the clutter donations people had brought in (at rather shorter notice than previous times so it was somewhat smaller). £44 was raised for Christian Aid and those donations that no one bought were taken to the Communicare shop so hopefully they will still be usefully re-used for another charity that church members are very much involved in. The jewellery items, however, went into our new recycling box for Traidcraft who are also taking mobile phones (in any condition) and old/foreign currency.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Christian Aid Service

Today we were looking forward to Christian Aid week with a sermon from Jessica from their Oxford office. It was, I was told, an inspiring piece based on the lectionary reading John 5:1-9 - do we really want a world healed of poverty and hunger? Even if it will cost us? How will we be healed? The man in the Gospel thought he needed to be nearer to the pool, but when healing finally came that was not the answer. Will we be surprised by the ways forward? In carrying his mat he broke the laws of the Sabbath. What laws/traditions/habits must we break to achieve healing.

We used Christian Aid materials in the children's groups too. Abi had brought in some chicks, which of course they were all keen to stroke. The materials were about Ivana whose family were given chicks (among other things) by a Christian Aid partner to help them build a more sustainable, varied farm in their Bolivian rainforest home. The accompanying Forest Foods Forever game was a great hit with Exclaimers (despite initial requests for more sewing!).

After the service we watched a short film on the impact for farmers in Kenya of a scheme to send out localised weather forecasts by text message. Then we had a fantastic delicious (vegetarian) meal together - thank you Ali. All profits from the money raised by the meal will be going to Christian Aid.

Next week we'll be raising more funds for Christian Aid, as well as Readifood, with a clutter sale. Please bring in anything you think someone else in church might be prepared to buy to raise funds!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Food and clothes

Our Enough Food for Everyone IF banner has been up for several weeks now, with regular reminders in the notices of the forthcoming gathering in London on June 8th.
Two weeks ago at Exclaimers we were looking at the story of Dorcas and her gifts of clothing for widows and the poor. We used the Godly Play script which worked really well, but before they started on their crafts (mostly cross stitch) we talked a bit about how the clothes we choose to buy can also be a reflection of our faith, looking at fair trade clothing etc. (This was three days before the Rana Plaza building collapsed so we'll talk some more about it this Sunday I think).
It looks like there'll be a good group of us doing the sponsored walk for Christian Aid in a few weeks time, hoping the weather is still this beautiful! And in other good news - the Exclaimers' model farm made out of packaging from fairtrade products has won a hamper of fairtrade goodies which will apparently arrive in the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mothering Sunday

We were using more Christian Aid resources in this morning's service, as they produced a wonderful meditation for Mothering Sunday. Unfortunately the technology packed up on us part way through but anyone wanting to watch the meditation in full can find it here. I enjoyed researching the history of Mothering Sunday for my talk and had to edit out quite a bit, including the fact that Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mothers' Day in the US, vigorously campaigned against the commercial festival it almost instantly became, deriding the use of greetings cards instead of more meaningful personal communication.

This year, rather than just doing a church walk, we've decided to join in with the local sponsored Christian Aid walk through beautiful Oxfordshire countryside and flyers advertising this were handed out to everyone. If you don't have one, there is information here and see Liz Bailey. Everyone also received copies of Christian Ecology Link's latest edition of Storm of Hope. Previous editions of this are available here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Fairtrade Fortnight

On Sunday we celebrated Fairtrade Fortnight in Exclaimers, watching Christian Aid's fairtrade assembly slide show, sharing Divine chocolate and building a farm out of fairtrade packaging. (I'm not sure where the other half of Exclaimers were when Laura took this photo).


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Christianity, Capitalism and the Poor: Where's the Good News

At the Christian Aid Week planning meeting this morning before lunch a couple of people mentioned how inspirational Loretta Minghella, Chief Executive of Christian Aid, was at this year's University of Reading Chaplaincy New Year lecture. It was televised by students so I finally got round to watching it this evening - yes, hugely moving and inspiring. You can watch it on line here.

INF meal at Candlemas

After today's excellent Candlemas Worship Together we had a delicious vegetarian meal. Following the Food Matters meeting, I was determined not to end up buying a pudding from the Co-op on the way to church but I think I'll need to practice the Chocolate and Pear Tatin I made (Green & Black's Ultimate Chocolate Recipe Book) to improve the appearance (although it tasted much as one would hope with that much Divine chocolate in it). The money raised from the meal will be given to INF and so Ali (back from Nepal but returning shortly) showed us a very moving film about their work after the meal.
Less positively from a green perspective, it was again really warm in church today and the figures for the end of year confirm that our gas use (school and church combined) has actually gone up signficantly this year.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Food Matters

On Thursday of last week I attended the inspiring launch of Oxford diocese's Food Matters project for 2013 so some of the material I picked up there is now up on the EcoCongregation notice board. Audio recordings of the talks given can be heard on the Food Matters website and the project's winter resources have been uploaded too. Food was the focus of this Sunday's intercessions at St John's which Pete led, inspired by the Enough Food for Everyone IF launch.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Enough Food for Everyone IF

A dozen of the St John's congregation turned up on Friday 25th January to be part of the launch of a major new campaign to reduce global poverty, along with local MPs and activists from other churches plus a fantastic band from Leighton Park School.

Rev Robert Weston, of Park United Reformed Church explained the reason for the IF campaign:

The world produces enough food for everyone, but not everyone has enough food.
Hunger is the greatest scandal of our age.
This year, with the G8 coming to Britain, we can make a real difference if we act together and act now.
The aim of the IF campaign is to tackle the scandal that sees 1 in 8 people in the world go to bed hungry. The food system is broken. There’s enough food, but it’s not going to hungry people who need it to live. We know we can change this. All this suffering and death is preventable IF we persuade our governments to act.

Nearly 100 leading charities have joined together to demand an end to hunger. In June the G8 Summit comes to Britain. This is our chance to end the scandal of hunger. Our leaders will listen IF we act together and act now.’

The Mayor of Reading, Councillor Jenny Rynn gave her support for the IF campaign saying that this could be a major help in achieving the UN’s Millennium Goal to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

MP for Reading West, Alok Sharma, gave his full support to the IF campaign emphasising the importance of the government’s commitment to ensure that 0.7% of the United Kingdom’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is spent on international development and aid. This contribution helps to alleviate some of the worst poverty and hunger across the globe.

The Bishop of Reading, Bishop Andrew, reflected on his 9 years of ministry in Ethiopia, where he saw first-hand the impact of multinational companies on the lives of poor communities. The displacement of local farmers, to create vast fields of crops to produce biofuels is having a negative effect on the provision of locally grown food for people in Ethiopia, creating food shortages. Bishop Andrew encouraged the crowd outside St Lawrence Church, saying that together we can make a difference and build on the success of the ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign.

MP for Reading East, Rob Wilson, also gave his full backing to the project and drew attention to the scandal of food waste, a contributing factor to the global problem of food shortage. Rob has been involved in an innovative local project to use the fruit grown in local gardens, parks and allotments – which can be used to produce fruit juice, jams and other products.

The crowd of supporters were delighted to enjoy a piece of music written specially for the launch event and performed by students from Leighton Park School. The piece composed by Leighton Park music teacher Chris Mitchell is in a Latin American style, featuring brass and percussion, and the performance is named "Jubilee Shout".

Maranda St John Nicolle, co-ordinator of Christian Concern for One World was delighted with the level of support for the campaign in Reading; saying, ‘It is always encouraging to see such a vibrant community seeking to raise awareness of global issues. I hope others will want to get the message out there: the world produces enough food, but not everyone has enough food. IF we get together, we can make a difference and we can solve this problem.’

At the launch event were:
Mayor of Reading, Councillor Jenny Rynn
Bishop Andrew, Bishop of Reading
Rob Wilson MP
Alok Sharma MP
Rob White, Reading Borough Councillor
Rev Robert Weston, Minister, Park United Reformed Church, East Reading
Rev Neil Warwick, Vicar, St Nicolas Church, Earley
Rev Ali Marshall, Minister, St John and St Stephen Church, Newtown
Maranda St John Nicolle of Christian Concern for One World, Oxford
Hamish Preston of Reading Campaigning Network

There will be Enough Food for Everyone….
  • IF we stop poor farmers being forced off their land, and use the available agricultural land to grow food for people, not biofuels for cars.
  • IF governments keep their promises on aid, invest to stop children dying from malnutrition and help the poorest people feed themselves through investment in small farmers.
  • If governments stop big companies dodging tax in poor countries, so that millions of people can free themselves from hunger.
  • IF we force governments and investors to be honest and open about the deals they make in the poorest countries that stop people getting enough food.We want our leaders to act on the four big issues that stop everyone getting enough food.

To sign up to the campaign