Hope for the Future campaign

Hope for the Future is a UK wide campaign aimed at getting realistic climate change policies into the manifestos of the main political parties ahead of the next general election, May 2015. 

The campaign has been started by the North East and Yorkshire Anglican Diocesan Environment Officers Group, and is being put forward as a national and ecumenical initiative.

Hope for the Future encourages church congregations to run ‘Climate Write-ins’ – encouraging people to write individual letters to their MP’s and prospective parliamentary candidates, asking the politicians how their party will incorporate into their manifesto the legally binding carbon budgets to reduce emissions in the UK up to 2027, and plan investment in a low-carbon future for the UK, as recommended by the government’s independent advisor, the Committee on Climate Change.

They are also recruiting and deploying ‘Climate Ambassadors’ to visit churches and encourage them to hold these ‘Climate Write-ins’, strategically targeting key constituencies.

After the ‘Climate Write-in’ people are asked to write follow up letters responding to MP’s replies and lobby them at their surgeries.

For further details and resources visit www.hftf.org.uk.

Low Carbon Oxford Week – 14-22 June 2014

bgrtfeccuaekvgj-jpg-largeThe week of 14-22 June will see a wide variety of inspiring events popping up all over Oxford city – from film showings to food fairs; ‘schwopping’ to super-local suppers; cycling to upcycling – there will be something on offer for everyone and the whole of Oxford is invited.

The Diocese of Oxford is a Pathfinder member of Low Carbon Oxford, and is encouraging churches in Oxford are encouraged to get involved in one of the following ways:

  • Register an existing‘green’ event happening during LCO Week – eg weekly farmers market, bike rides, webinars
  • Add a ‘green’ theme to existing events during LCO Week – eg ‘green’ sermons, upcycling activities in schools
  • Work with other organisations to put on a special event for LCO Week – eg film showings, gigs, talks, open days, tours
  • Provide a free venue – eg a shop window for some artwork, a lecture theatre for a talk or a café for a film showing
  • Donate a prize to the LCO Week upcycling competition
  • Promote Low Carbon Oxford Week on Twitter and Facebook

Find out more at the Low Carbon Oxford Week website.

Contact Jenny Carr on 01865 252564 to discuss how you can get involved.

Renewing ourselves for a changing climate

This column first appeared in the Oxford Mail

The climate has been much on our minds recently. With weeks of rain and flooding causing distress and disruption across the country. Local churches in Oxfordshire and beyond played their part in providing support and refuge, with St Luke’s, Canning Crescent, becoming known as the community’s ‘Noah’s Ark’.

These extreme weather events and consequential floods have bought climate change back into the media spotlight. Politicians have again started talking about the seriousness of climate change, with David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions recently responding to prompting from Ed Milband by saying he believes, “…man-made climate change is one of the most serious threats that this country and this world faces.” Such attention to the issue has been worryingly absent for some time, and this renewed focus is welcome.

The church has also been reaffirming its commitment to play a leading role in the effort to prevent dangerous climate change. In February the General Synod of the Church of England voted overwhelmingly in support of the Church strengthening its work in this area, and made clear Synod’s desire to see this include the Church’s ethical investment activities and ensure the investment policies are ‘aligned with the theological, moral and social priorities’ of the Church on climate change.
Closer to home the Diocese of Oxford last month joined Low Carbon Oxford, the pioneering city-wide programme of collaboration between private, public and non-profit organisations, which aims to ensure Oxford’s future as a sustainable and low carbon city.

On the ground the diocese, working with the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment, has been helping churches access expert energy efficiency advice tailored to their building, aiming to help PCCs reduce carbon footprints and run buildings more sustainably, whilst also creating buildings that are warmer, more welcoming and cost less money to run.

The recent Earthing Faith network gathering, which the diocese runs to encourage and resource churches to connect our faith with environmental issues, in Oxford looked at how churches are developing eco-friendly parishes. Whether it’s hosting events and courses to explore the issues, managing churchyards for biodiversity, changing heating systems or installing solar PV panels, there is lots happening.

As we approach Easter Christians are preparing spiritually in Lent, a season for repentance and renewal. Following the wake-up call of the the recent weather events, repenting for our impact on climate change and renewing our response to its impacts should be part of that preparation. Some are choosing to ‘fast from carbon’, others may intentionally go for a walk to notice the world around you, to catch the first signs of spring and take time to reflect on our impact upon it. However, you choose to mark it, this season of Lent provides an opportunity to reflect on what has been, and, in the waiting, to renew and inspire ourselves for how we might respond to a changing climate.

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This column first appeared in the Oxford Mail

Matt Freer is a freelance project manager and Environment Advisor for the Diocese of Oxford, where he co-ordinates the EarthingFaith.org network

Reconnecting church and earth in the 21st century – 29th April 2014

The Bishop of Dorchester is hosting the “Reconnecting church and earth in the 21st century” event at Dorchester Abbey on Tuesday April 29t 2014, 10am to 3.30pm.

In the biblical story of creation in Genesis the writer pictures humankind being formed from the earth and at the same time given responsibility for the creation. That theological metaphor shapes and determines the Christian’s understanding of our relationship to and stewardship of the earth. The purpose of our gathering will be to discover afresh how the church can continue to connect with the issues facing the land and the environment, and particularly build a partnership with the earth trust.

During the day we shall hear about the work of the earth trust at Little Wittenham, an update from the Environment Adviser, Matt Freer, and an introduction about the new Thames Path Pilgrimage from Sarah Meyrick (Strategic Adviser to the Bishop of Oxford and Diocesan Director of Communications).

The Bishop of Dorchester explains that: “The idea for this event arose after an excellent visit I had to the Earth Trust last autumn. I am keen not only to link the work the Earth Trust is doing with our churches and church schools in the diocese. I hope this event will go some way towards building stronger links. I hope you will be able to join me for this day!”

Full details here.

To book your place please contact Glyn Evans – the Diocesan Rural Officer – by April 11th using the form below:

Earth & Faith in Faringdon

EARTH & FAITH is a new ecumenical project for Churches Together in Faringdon, launching in May 2014.

EARTH & FAITH will be a focus group among the Faringdon churches, to help us develop our understanding and care of the environment.

As a pilot project, we are planning one whole year of monthly events – plenty of opportunities to:

  • celebrate the gifts of God in Creation
  • discover the interdependence of the natural world, including ourselves
  • learn about our human impact on ecological systems
  • resist apathy and despondency about ecological problems
  • find grounds for living in hope for the future of the Earth.

There are of course many interest groups in the neighbourhood that care about the environment, and some church members belong to these already. Our new group will not try to reinvent the wheel, but we do hope to be a channel of information and ideas from other sources to the churches, and a witness to our neighbours of the churches’ concern for these issues.

A small steering committee meets for the first time in April to begin to plan the programme. First events in early summer.

For further details and to get involved please contact Pam de Wit, member of All Saints Faringdon, using the form below:

Earthing Faith Gathering – 27 Feb 2014

Developing an eco-friendly parish: a resource evening for churches in Oxfordshire

In 2014 Earthing Faith gatherings will bring people together to showcase resources to help churches explore environment related issues in a parish, with a particular focus on resources for worship.

EF_Oxf_gathering_327The Oxford gathering took place on Thursday 27th February at New Road Baptist Church, and included an introduction by the Bishop of Oxford, which was followed by showcasing of resources churches have found useful and examples of how they are approaching environment issues. We heard about:

  • Running an “Earthing Faith Year” at Holy Trinity, Headington Quarry (Rev Tim Stead).
  • Resources for parishes from A Rocha (Chris Parkman)
  • Christian Aid’s Climate Justice campaign and how parishes can get involved (Jess Hall)
  • An update on the Food Matters project and how to use the seasonal resource guides this year (Maranda St John Nicolle)
  • Plans to make St.Clements Church, E Oxford, more energy efficient and welcoming, as well as the Eco-congregation initiative (Clare Newgass)
  • Fossil Free Oxfordshire’s disinvestment campaign (Karl Wallendszus)

Slides from the above presentations are available below.

The gathering closed with an act of worship written (click here to download pdf of worship) and led by Rev Tess Ward and Susie Stead.

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Missed this one? There will also be similar gatherings on Thursday 1st May 2014 with the Bishop of Reading at St Nicholas, Earley, Reading – and on Thursday 9th October 2014 with the Bishop of Buckingham in Aylesbury.