Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dazzled in Creation Season

This Creation Season began with a wonderful new initiative - Dazzle - a St  John's festival in conversation with the Festival of the Dark. Many elements were very relevant to our EcoChurch journey, including Kate Raworth's inspiring talk on Doughnut Ecomonics, two theatrical pieces (sadly I couldn't make it to these - there'll no doubt be write-ups in Newt), community gardening and many of the talks at the day symposium with which we finished. This was a real variety of information, leaving those of us who stayed all day reeling slightly from the information processing! Gary and Vincent offered us some fascinating theology and striking poetry, Dave Richards inspired us with a call to dig for a different kind of victory, Kester Brewin invited us to rethink attitudes to education, Alison Webster embraced boundary-crossing, Colin Heber-Percy examined what humanity means and Helen Bilton enthused about outdoor learning. There were also information stalls -  the most challenging for many of us to think on were the Vegan society.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Greenbelt - The Common Good

Just back from Greenbelt 2017 - I know at least 12 other St John's members were there since we bumped into each other but among the 11,000 on site this weekend there were probably others. It was a glorious weekend - apparently the hottest August bank holiday on record which made it beautiful but was also a stark reminder of our increasingly extreme weather. The environment was high on the agenda with Christian Aid's Big Shift campaign - my family plus godsons very much enjoyed their Escape the Vault (although if I'd been on my own I think I'd still be in there). As usual Green Christian and Operation Noah were among the stall holders as well as Hope for the Future who help people and churches lobby their MPs on climate change. Moreover, Natalie Bennett was in no fewer than five sessions and the Most Revd Dr Winston Halapua, archbishop of Aotearea, New Zealand and Polynesia made seven appearances (I am now hugely appreciating his beautiful and intriguing book  Waves of God's Embrace).

Monday, April 10, 2017

Upcoming Creation Care Event

Palm Sunday

Yesterday morning's Godly Play story was the journey from the Transfiguration to Jerusalem, concluding with the triumphal entry. Apparently our Palm Sunday banners looked like 'pagan May poles!' but I think everyone enjoyed making them. Not a very eco topic here - just greenery inside church.

Captain Fantastic

I finally made it to the last instalment of this year's Lent film festival - Captain Fantastic - about a family brought up in and idealistic wilderness, coping with the outside world. Much more light hearted than probably most of the films over the years, but still food for a lot of discussion afterwards - so many dilemmas in parenting. As Harper lectured Ben about whether it was appropriate to talk to the children about their mother's depression and suicide the scene cut suddenly to a violent video game and it felt a bit like being punched in the stomach. Online lists of film quotes include the lines "What's cola?" "Poison water", but not the follow up which I wish I could remember properly, to the effect that they were leaving the roadside cafe because it didn't sell actual food.

Big Shift Campaign

On April 1st about 20 members of Reading churches (many from St John's) gathered in town to hand in requests to the big banks to divest from fossil fuels. (I was organising a birthday party so didn't make it, but this is the photo Rosemary put up on facebook). Next day in church we were all encouraged to sign letters to the banks on the same theme.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Lent Resolutions

Since Lent started on a 'first Sunday of the month' this year, it was a particularly convenient day for an EcoChurch activity between the service and our Lenten bread and soup lunch. We invited people to write up green lifestyle tips that they are already practising and hang them on this tree. The plan is to draw green tips from the service sheet from these in future. We also put out 'lifestyle audits' for people to complete, with the suggestion that through Lent they might want to use these to make their lifestyle a bit greener.

The following week Jennifer Leach from Ourider Anthems came to talk to us about their Festival of the Dark. It feels a bit strange at first for Christians to talk about joining a festival of the dark, but this is about reconnecting with a sense of the changing seasons of our world, using the festivals that for centuries drew us together as communities. She was particularly advertising today's 'The Night Breathes us In' event - it sounds beautiful although many of us were concerned that the cost of producing such an innovative and adventurous event is reflected in a ticket price that does make it rather exclusive. We are hoping the church might be able to be involved in future more accessible events that would also be open to children.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

For the Common Good

Today Hamish shared in church copies of his latest briefing paper - a summary of Herman Daly and B Cobb Jnr's For the Common Good: Redirecting the economy towards community, the environment and a sustainable future. It is not yet up on his Engaging the Powers website but anyone interested will find papers on similar themes here.

After a particularly tough week I very much appreciated Gary's sermon on moments of mountain-top wonder - plenty of food for thought about our experience of God through Creation. I've not read The Solace of  Fierce Landscapes, although it rang a bell when he said it, and I'm thinking this 'explanation of apophatic mysticism' might prove good Lent reading.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Europe's Greenest City

Late last year Christine and I (pictured at the top outside the bishop's palace) were very fortunate in being able to join an Oxford diocese link visit to Vaxjo in Sweden where the theme of the exchange was the environment. We stayed in a church-run college and visited a variety of sites in our three days, including the biogas plant pictured in the middle (part owned by the church because they own a farm whose cows produce some of the manure) and the rapeseed oil powered crematorium (lowest picture). We also learnt about some of the problems with using rapeseed oil at a church whose boiler had ceased functioning but which was part of a deanery where they are rolling out a very high tech plan for long distance controlling not only the heating and dehumidfying but opening and closing up the building and even ringing the bells. After we got to England I gave a presentation on our experiences after church one day and the text for that is now attached as a page to this blog.
I promised to put a link to their bishops' letter on the environment - that is here.