Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Christians Together on Climate - the event

Over 60 people turned up on a rainy evening to St Laurence's church for Reading Area Green Christians' event to help empower churches to act on climate change. Highlights included our school striker, Francesca, who inspired everyone with her story and her commitment; University of Reading doctoral researcher Lydia Messling whose workshop on finding the right words to communicate about climate change clearly taught people a lot; and a final act of worship/lament before we took our ideas home to act on. 

We were especially grateful to those who came with information stalls - notably who are still looking for public buildings with high daytime usage to put solar panels on as well as offering opportunities for green investment; and whose strategic plan for Reading's response to climate change will be out for consultation early next year. 

One of the key reasons for holding the event was to advertise the energy audits available to churches - Oxford diocese are providing financial incentives for CofE churches doing this, but the company will work with any churches - more information here:

There's more information/resources on the extra blog page here for Christians Together on Climate, including some of the information sheet I produced to report back on the event at the Diocesan Synod last week. For just five days you can also still catch Paul Coia interviewing me on BBC Radio Berkshire's Faith programme the Sunday before the event!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Christians Together on Climate

An exciting opportunity to find resources to help our churches respond to the climate emergency with advisors from Oxford diocese, EcoChurch reps from different denominations and lots of representatives from other Eco groups in and around Reading  - please join us!

Creation Season

Highlights of this year's Creation Season at St John's included the invitation to be part of a service at Christ Church Oxford in which representatives from across the diocese were commissioned to work for Creation Care in their parishes. It was the final in a series of services whose sermons have been recorded and can be heard (or read) at:

The following day was our harvest festival at St John's. The proceeds from the monthly church lunch, like the harvest gifts, were given to Readifood and the meal was a vegetarian recipe from Jack Monroe's latest book.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Time is Now

How many St John's congregation members can you spot in the picture? The article is here. The photo was taken just after a long and positive discussion with local MP Matt Rhodda about action on climate change as part of the mass lobby last Wednesday.

In other updates - the Elements youth group appreciated an excellent and thought-provoking and inspiring talk from Sarah Thake on corporate social responsibility and what you can get business to do for the environment and social justice working from the inside.

And here is the evidence of what we did with the proceeds of our last church lunch!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Environment Sunday update

Last Sunday was Environment Sunday and the theme of our Worship Together was 'feast'. Afterwards we had a vegan lunch (chickpea, apricot and cashew nut tagine from a Schumacher College recipe book) and the donations people gave will all be going to The World Land Trust as part of Green Christian's campaign to find 100 churches to spend £100 each on protecting rainforest (we're hoping it'll be a bit more than £100).
Since my last blog quite a few of the church enjoyed the Christian Aid walk the country sponsored event, as usual. Plus our new youth group, Elements, had a speaker who had attended Friends of the Earth's Community Campaigning course and he shared his school's campaign to reduce plastics. Also, Bridget has wonderfully volunteered to ensure a compost bin in the kitchen is emptied in the middle of each week, so now we can make sure all the coffee grounds etc aren't going in the bin.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Christian Aid Week

We started our preparations for Christian Aid Week early this year. Sunday 5th May was our Christian Aid service led by the children with Richard and Abi, picking up on what they'd been doing in Children's Praise the week before and sharing the story of the Good Samaritan. This was followed by a delicious vegetarian lunch and profits from the donations for this will, of course, be added to our contribution to Christian Aid this year.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

More Lenten challenges

The church meal on the first Sunday of April, because it falls during Lent is always a bread and soup lunch (always billed as 'simple' but with sumptuous soups and lovely homemade bread). On this occasion we filled the time between the service and the meal with a lighthearted quiz about what we've done as an EcoChurch, and why, and answers were given before the grace so everyone knew the facts by the end of it - the winners were Jeremy and Don. We also challenged people to suggest some next steps, including action on the tiny open space between the school and the church which most of us had always assumed was the school's land - lots of suggestions were forthcoming, including some ambitious designs from some of the children, pictured:

Monday, March 4, 2019

Lenten Challenges - Engaging the Powers

As we arrived at church yesterday we were each given a copy of the St John's and St Stephen's Creation Care Challenge for Lent 2019. Adapted by Richard C from a challenge used at St Aldate's in Oxford, it is a mixture of daily challenges, meditations, prayers and talking points to help us tread more lightly on the earth. This week's tasks are a gentle preparation - I think week three is when I'm going to start really struggling: when we get to avoiding plastic wrappings on our food.

After the service, and before the monthly church lunch (in aid of Bed for the Night this month) Hamish P shared some of his wisdom on another challenging topic - engaging the powers that keep people across our world in poverty. He began with Desmond Tutu's point:

“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

Then he explained the importance of educating ourselves on how the system works that keeps the poor poor and enables a tiny minority to be phenomenally rich, drawing especially on Walter Wink and Joseph Stiglitz. He'd brought a number of briefing papers, summarising key books on topics of globalisation, inequality and the economy. There is lots more to read and inspire action at

Saturday, February 2, 2019


Harvest was a long time ago now, but I forgot to put up these pictures at the time - the EcoGroup took over the service, choosing liturgy and songs to celebrate Creation, using homemade bread, an additional offertory prayer over the water, and collecting  produce for Readifood food bank. Mark's sermon drew on the readings, Joel 2:21-7 and Matthew 6:25-33, suggesting that harvest festivals matter today as a response to urbanisation, social isolation and the desire to slow down and reconnect with the natural world, acquring additional meaning now in our environmental crisis, highlighted by the IPCC's latest stark report. He invited us to understand Jesus's instruction 'Do not worry' as something very different from 'Do not care' - it means not allowing anxiety to consume us to the point of paralysis but instead to live hopefully and act accordingly. He concluded by inviting us to introduce new traditions to our harvest involving reducing our energy and meat consumption.