Friday, December 4, 2015

Reading Climate Day

Bishops Climate Day 2015
St Mary's Butts was buzzing this afternoon when I turned up to help prepare for tomorrow's Climate Day: 

- 'Green Christmas’ ethical gift and food fair: 10am - 2pm
- ‘Cafe Theologique’ talk and discussion by Professor John Mitchell, Principal Research Fellow at the Met Office, about his work on climate change: 4pm
- Climate Mass with the Bishop presiding and Dr Ruth Valerio, Churches and Theology Director of A Rocha UK preaching - 7pm. (Reception from 5.30pm)
- Exhibition of photographs and information, and interactive prayer stations throughout the day.

Climate Marches

I think there were about a dozen of us from St John's on the Reading Climate March last Saturday. The organizers decided there were 300+ in total whereas the press said 'dozens' which was clearly an understatement. There was a good atmosphere, despite the drizzly weather, many of us catching up with people we hadn't seen for years, but also getting to know new people.
Several others from St John's made it to London for the much larger rally there on Sunday.

Meal profits to Operation Noah

Our treasurer has just forwarded an email of thanks from Operation Noah - we were able to send them £130 from the donations provided after Dominic and Miriam's vegan lunch.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Preparing for the climate talks - upcoming events

the events advertised at yesterday morning's service were: 

Reading People’s March - on Saturday 28th November – see ‘Route’ tab on website: – a march from Christchurch to a rally in the ‘3Bs’ in the Town Hall. 

They are also running a coach to London for the People's March for Climate, Justice and Jobs on Sunday 29th November – to book see or join Richard and Rosemary catching a train straight after our Advent Sunday Service.

Reading Climate Day on Saturday 5th December at Reading Minster
10 am - 2pm Green Christmas - ethical gift and food fair
4 pm 'Cafe Theologique' - Professor John Mitchell, Principal Research Fellow at the Met Office will talk about his work on climate change
7 pm - Climate Mass with the bishop presiding and Ruth Valerio preaching
All day - exhibitions and prayer stations

Also - Hamish invited us to contact Global Justice Now (who used to be the World Development Movement) about WTO plans to debar low-income countries from buying farmers' crops and distributing them to those too poor to afford food at market price. The email address to ask for a campaign card is

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Updating, and glimpsing the Kingdom

We've put our action plan for EcoCongregation on hold for the moment, awaiting the launch of Eco Church next year. But we've still been doing Eco stuff. For September's Godly Play I brought in piles of leaves, conkers, pine cones, twigs etc for the children to use for their craft session and especially encouraged them to make musical items with them (some coffee tins and re-used plastic cups helped here).
As usual Creation Season lasted through September and October and was marked chiefly by the use of liturgy that draws on Creation-related images (our Creation Season service booklets have appropriate images inside and at the back is St Francis's Canticle of the Sun). We're now into Kingdom Season but are using a new Eucharistic Prayer this year which again draws heavily on Creation imagery.

On All Saints Day Dominic and Miriam cooked everyone a fabulous vegan lunch - I glanced in on the cooking part way through the service in case they needed help: there was something incredibly beautiful about the calm production of all that wonderful smelling food and Miriam was cooking with her gorgeous three-month-old strapped to her back, smiling and watching.

The meal was a mixed bean chilli with cashew cream, rice, corn bread and salad. Before we started Miriam explained the three reasons for a vegan lunch
1. At the climate conference in Warsaw in November 2013, Philippine delegate Yeb Sano fasted throughout the conference following a pledge not to eat unless progress was made to stop climate madness. Since then across the world climate campaigners have been fasting on the first day of each month in solidarity and prayer.
2. Meat and dairy products are an inefficient use of resources and farming them is a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions
3. Very often farm animals are not well-treated, their capacity for suffering ignored.

The money left over after donations to cover ingredients will be going to Operation Noah.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mass Lobby on Climate Change

Richard and Christine were among 10 members of the Reading East constituency to meet up with Rob Wilson for this - most of the others were from churches too apparently.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Preparing for the mass lobby on Climate Change

Last Sunday we had a great family service and the lunch was in aid of Readifood. Alison gave us a brief talk about the food parcel service before the meal. We also used the time between the service ending and the meal beginning to do some preparation for the mass lobby on Climate Change on 17th June. Christian Aid have asked us to make bunting along the theme speaking up for the love of things we care about - so here is the bunting that Richard B will be taking to the lobby.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Christian Aid walk

It was the perfect morning for the Christian Aid sponsored walk today. There was a smaller crowd from St John's than usual I think but Simon and Judy were helping with the running and there were at least four car loads of walkers, two of whom met at the finish, above. 

I've been forgetting to add stuff, as usual, but last Sunday I wrote a Godly Play script for the children inspired by John 1 and Ascension so there was lots of emphasis on Creator and Created - a good excuse for very inventive craft activities afterwards.

The week before we encouraged congregation members to do more walking and less driving by handing out Beat the Street cards and inviting them to join the St John's school team. The week before that was another EcoCongregation planning meeting.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Time to Act on Climate Change

Abi succeeded in fill a bus with climate change campaigners from Reading for the Time to Act on Climate Change march. Quite a few of them were from St John's but I've still not got round to getting any of their photos. My family headed down by train earlier in the day so that we could fit in a trip to the Science Museum before joining the march near Charing Cross.

The idea of this march was to encourage politicians to put climate change on their election agenda. I'm not sure there were enough of us in the circumstances (many of the development agencies hadn't really advertised this one), but I'm hoping the National Trust's announcement this morning will help towards that.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Counting Blessings

Someone very organised has ordered the posters for Christian Aid's Count Your Blessings Lent campaign which were distributed with the service booklets this morning. There are still places on the bus Abi is organising for the Time for Action Climate March on March the 7th.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Joy in Enough

I've been forgetting to add events and really should have mentioned the thought-provoking meeting for our home group a few weeks ago at which Christine introduced us to the Green Christian (formerly CEL) project Joy in Enough. Christine belongs to their working group on building social capital ('a mass behaviour of enoughness') so this was the main theme of the evening. She also gave us a brief introduction to steady state economics which does look hugely challenging. Unsurprisingly it includes limiting the range of inequality in income distribution which was the topic of a recent talk at the University from Richard Wilkinson, author of The Spirit Level. As a result of Christine's talk the home group have since been working through Christopher Jamison's Finding Sanctuary.
Christine also recommended we look up Breathe: a Christian network for simpler living, which is connected to the pictured book Consumer Detox.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Acting on Climate Change (and feasting)

For once our family arrived in time to get cycle racks for our bikes this morning (Mark was leading the service so it was necessary to arrive before the first hymn!).

Quite unprompted by the EcoCongregation planners, the notice section this morning turned out to be a climate change marathon - Hamish P has digested a couple of Michael Northcott's books into accessible papers to help us all get at the salient facts easily and he gave an impassioned summary to encourage us all to read them and to start taking meaningful action. Abi announced her planned bus to the climate change march on March 7th. Finally, a Reading University student who is researching electricity use among the over 65s asked for volunteers so that he can set up monitors in their homes - thanks everyone who agreed to get involved with that: 11 volunteers means St John's are providing just over a quarter of the homes he needs.

Liz and Rosemary provided a very delicious lunch, with a small amount of fish and no meat. The puddings were especially fabulous today as Pathfinders had a social yesterday during which they made ginger ice cream, baklava, trifles and cheesecakes. All money raised after the lunch ingredients are paid for this month will go to the LAMB hospital in Bangladesh.

EcoCongregation Meeting

Last Tuesday we had a rather better attended meeting to check up on our pre-Christmas targets. Progress had been slow and clearly more advertising is needed about the recycling but it was good to hear that the school recycling is apparently working well at present. The gathering of info on personal energy use was beginning to bring interesting results but we'd not yet started on the one bit of church energy monitoring that seems practical (the refectory). The school eco-team are working on making sure lights and smart boards are switched off habitually. My task is to shape up the action plan before the next PCC meeting so we can officially get back on the programme with EcoCongregation. We also shared Abi's excellent plan to arrange a bus for Reading people to go to the Time to Act Climate Change demo on 7th March.

Twinned Toilets

I meant to put this post up last week: The Mission Committee have arranged to twin our toilets with toilets in India, Nepal and Chad. So now we have lovely pictures on the back of each toilet door to remind us of the toilets we've helped to pay for in places where they're desperately needed.