Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Energy Audit


We have now received the report back from the Diocesan Energy Audit that was carried out on 12 October. It is hugely useful and positive. It includes 17 practical suggestions for actions with details of the estimated costs, carbon savings and eventual financial savings as well as whether they would require a faculty.

The next step is for the PCC to work out which they want to prioritise and how to take this forward.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Climate Sunday

 Last Sunday's service was our Climate Sunday - for the first Sunday in Creationtide. This is part of an initiative organised by CTBI's Environmental Issues Network supported by Operation Noah, Green Christian, Christian Aid, A Rocha, Tearfund and many others. The idea is to explore the theological and scientific basis for action on climate change; to commit to action and to join in campaigning on this ahead of COP-26.  The commitments will be shared as part of an event in a year's time in Glasgow to add pressure for meaningful action from the UK government. The Climate Sunday website has lots of resources and these are being updated throughout the year. We actually put our own together, in part so that it would fit with the structure of our Zoom services.

Our service was quite brief on the science/theology since we have covered it so often before and instead we focussed more on connecting with God through Creation. Our readings were Isiah 58: 6-8 and John 1 and we used Romans 1:20 to inspire discussion in breakout rooms. We're already committed as a church to achieving whatever energy reductions we can as part of our EcoChurch journey so we focussed on ways to ensure every congregation member could find a way to take part - we offered a choice of four suggestions and someone to contact to follow these up and used a Zoom poll to see which was the most popular choice. The service concluded with Rosemary reporting back on joining Christian Climate Action's prayer vigil at the September Rebellion.

Climate Emergency

This blog has been silent since the Lockdown began but there's been quite a bit going on in our electronically connected world. Just days before the order came to stay at home, four of us from St John's were on the team leading worship for the Diocesan Synod ahead of their debate on a motion to declare a climate emergency and commit to becoming carbon neutral by 2035. Along with scripture readings we included Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem "God's Grandeur" and a quote widely attributed to Gus Speth (in fact slightly paraphrased from a report by someone who attended his talk at a retreat), and the songs "God of the Poor" and "I the Lord of Sea and Sky". The motion passed and you can read more here.

In May Rosemary spent a long time working on the Climate Stewards' 360 degree carbon calculator. Because much of our heating and electricity is from Ecotricity this significantly reduces our total, although we are aware that cutting our energy use is still needed. Our annual total came in at 16.32 tonnes.

We've also managed to find two churches to partner with us for the diocese's energy audit, as soon as it is practical to carry that out - this should help us find ways of directly cutting our energy use.

Many of us lobbied our MPs by Zoom on 30 June as part of the Climate Coalition's: The Time is Now campaign. 14,000 others across the country joined us.

Very recently several of the congregation have supported Christian Climate Action at the Extinction Rebellion September Uprising with Dr Rowan Williams, Bishop Olivia and others

Sunday, March 1, 2020

First Sunday in Lent

Despite being the first Sunday of Lent, today's All Age Communion felt a particularly joyous service. It was a beautiful morning to walk in, with daffodils greeting us at the edge of the forecourt. Hamish singing 100 billion times, a gorgeous Creation song, was certainly one of its highlights.
Our shared lunch was vegetarian and mostly vegan - soups and no puddings because it is Lent, but delicious and satisfying nonetheless. The proceeds from the collection for that are going to Yeldall Manor.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Fairtrade again - Public lecture by the CEO of Cafedirect

John Steel, CEO of Cafedirect, will be speaking at the University of Reading at 6.15 next Wednesday (4 March). The event is jointly organised by the University Chaplaincy and the Department of Economics and is open to members of the public as well as staff and students.

Climate change, social enterprise and business values are all likely to be under discussion. Entrance is free but booking is essential and there are more details here.

Ash Wednesday - being human and fairtrade

There are, as usual, an abundance of resources to mark Lent this year. The Archbishop of Canterbury's Lent Book is by Ruth Valerio - Saying Yes to Life. This works through the days of Creation to consider matters of environmental and ethical concern. Some of us will be reading it through Lent (although I think Rosemary has already finished it!). 

The book is designed for individuals or use in groups, but at St John's Lent is when home groups stop. Instead we gather together each Thursday for a film shown in the church and some of those who join us are not Sunday worshippers at all. The film titles are usually released only at the last minute, but this year's theme is 'What makes us human'. Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, the write-up for the Lent Book explains that "Foundational to Saying Yes to Life is what it means to be human and, in particular, to be a follower of Jesus"

So that we do all have something to do at home too - last Sunday everyone received Christian Aid's, Count Your Blessings leaflet. Its focus is the climate crisis.  There's some interesting articles on Lenten themes in the current issue of Pathways too.

Meanwhile, the first week in Lent is always the beginning of fairtrade fortnight so the church Traidcraft stall was being 'borrowed' for a fairtrade stall at a local primary school and there were fairtrade toppings for pancakes at the University Chaplaincy's pancake party on Tuesday.

Citizens UK

Jessica Maddocks of Citizens UK has been exploring the possibility of a Reading branch of this community activism organisation. Several of our congregation have been on her list of interviewees so far and apparently a desire for political action on climate change is a particularly high priority in Reading.

Last night I joined a Citizens UK delegates' meeting (along with Jessica and members of the University of Reading's sustainability team) in a skype link to the Milton Keynes Citizens UK meeting. We were considering priorities in lobbying during the Police and Crime Commissioner election. The proposals under discussion included asking for a commitment from the Thames Valley police to set an ambitious target for the force to be carbon neutral; building stronger links between schools and police with named police contacts for every school; and a commitment that all those employed by the force (including contractors) should be paid a real living wage. Oxford diocese were also represented through a remote link and many community groups at Milton Keynes were in the room.

Despite some technological hitches with our sound link, it was an invigorating and interesting experience of democracy in action. Hopefully some of us will make it in person to the next event.

Carbon Neutral by 2030?

At last week's PCC we were discussing the deanery synod's recent motion on reducing carbon emissions to net zero. Here is the related announcement from the General Synod in the Church of England's environment bulletin from 12 February:

"Today, General Synod passed a motion recognising the climate emergency, calling on all parts of the Church to reduce their emissions year-on-year, aiming for a target of net zero by 2030 at the latest, and requiring progress to be regularly reviewed.

Members voted in favour of this revised date, encouraging all parts of the Church of England to take action and ramp-up efforts to reduce emissions

Read about it here

To reach Synod’s target of 2030 we will each need to hear this as an urgent call to action.  Please raise this landmark decision within your church, school, and diocese." 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The sound of the turtle dove is heard again in our land

As I'm planning our first EcoChurch meeting of the year I realise I forgot to mention that our church's year began with a sermon About a Tree and on Christmas Day our vicar's 'morning talk' began with the sound of the turtle dove and with Isabella Tree's book Wilding as a source of hope in our land - you can read it all here.