Season of Creation 2017

The Season of Creation – also known as ‘Time for Creation’ or Creationtide – is observed by Christians around the world from the 1st of September to the 4th of October. It’s a time to reflect on and respond to our calling to steward the earth. There are prayer resources on the Season of Creation website.

In addition:

In addition to local events, there are some online events gathering people together around the globe, including an online prayer service on the 1st of September, an online Taize service with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and a divestment announcement.

In our diocese, Canon David Hodgson, at All Saints, Wokingham, is writing a daily blog for Season of Creation: you can find that here.

To find events in our diocese, go to the events section.

Creation Care and your local church – an Autumn of opportunities…

This Autumn, we have a special opportunity to share our love for God’s creation and for each other … will you join in?

You may have seen the new “For the love of …” campaign. It’s a way of sharing with each other the many different things that we love – people in different parts of the world, our seasons, farming in Somerset, the wonderful majesty of the Great Barrier Reef –  which are threatened by climate change … and because of which we take climate change seriously. Anyone can share what they love online … would you join in, and ask other people in your church to do so, too?

Then there are three opportunities for us to pray and act together as churches, bringing our loves and concerns before God, and putting pressure on politicians to take climate change as seriously as we do.

  • From 1 September to 4 October, many churches will be observing “Time for Creation,” an annual chance to celebrate God’s goodness in giving us this wonderful earth and to explore our role in caring for it. This year the theme is “God Whose Farm Is All Creation,” and the resources (which contain sermon starters and prayers for each week) focus on family farming as well as more generally on creation care and climate issues. If you’re doing something on farming, you might also want to consult the wonderful resources of the Arthur Rank Centre or to talk with our diocesan rural officer, Canon Glyn Evans.

If you’re only choosing one week to celebrate, you might want to pick 21 September, which is the closest Sunday to the UN Secretary General’s special summit on climate change.

  • On the weekend of the 18th and 19th of October, the focus switches to sharing our concern with politicians. Christian Aid’s Hunger for Justice campaign is asking churches during this weekend to invite their MPs to an event or service, and to ask them to speak about their commitments to international development and their responses to climate change. It’s a powerful time offering the chance to pray and to help politicians to see that this is an issue about which we care. If you’d like more information, email Jess Hall at jhall@christian-aid.org or ring 01865 246818. If you can’t invite your MP, you could also use the Hope for the Future letter-writing materials to let him or her know your concerns. Hope for the Future is an initiative of some of the northeastern Church of England dioceses, and it offers a useful pack that you can use to write letters in church or as an individual.
  • Finally, on the 1st of November, you can bring all the Autumn’s events together in a day that involves prayer and fasting (the fasting being in whatever way is appropriate for you and your church). This is the initiative of Faith for the Climate, a working group that brings together a huge number of Christian agencies (Christian Aid, Tearfund, A Rocha, CEL, Operation Noah, CCOW, etc) and churches working on climate change. They’re asking churches to hold a brief time of prayer – and providing service materials if you want them. You’ll be joining people all around the country … and indeed, all around the world. The idea is that we’ll then pray and fast every 1st of the month for a year … praying that God will bring about genuine progress on climate justice at international, national and local levels. If you’d like more information, contact Maranda St John Nicolle.

General Synod to debate climate change and environment

A large group of organisations have joined together to welcome the debate on climate change and the environment taking place at General Synod on February 12th.

A Rocha UK, Christian Aid, Christian Concern for One World, Christian Ecology Link, Climate Stewards, CTBI Environmental Issues Network, the John Ray Initaitive, Operation Noah, Progressio, the Quakers, the Speak Network and Tearfund have joined together to encourage General Synod to address this debate with the utmost seriousness and support the proposed motion, and we commit themselves to supporting the Church of England and relevant bodies in their future endeavours.

The motion, proposed by Southwark Diocesan Synod, which will be debated on Wednesday 12th February is:

‘That this Synod:

(a) recognising the damage being done to the planet through the burning 
of fossil fuels;
(b) aware of the huge reserves held by gas, oil and coal extraction industries;
(c) committing itself to taking seriously our Christian responsibility to care for the planet (“the earth is the Lord’s”);
(d) acknowledging the financial responsibilities of the Church’s national Investing bodies; and
(e) noting that a review of recommended ethical investment policy with regard to climate change has been begun by the Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group (‘EIAG’):

(i) call upon the national investing bodies to ensure that their investment policy (including the option of disinvestment) is aligned with the theological, moral and social priorities of the Church which find expression in the reports “Sharing God’s Planet” and “Church and Earth 2009-2016” and in the “Shrinking the Footprint” campaign;
(ii) call upon the EIAG to publish the report of its review by the end of 2014; and
(iii) agree to the establishment of a General Synod Working Group on the Environment, to monitor this and other environmental issues.’

In the run-up to the debate congregations are being encouraged to get in touch with their Synod representatives to tell them about the joint statement and ask them to support the motion. (The list of members (Bishops, clergy and laity) can be found here and a helpful sample letter/email is given here.).

People are also taking to Twitter using #GSClimate and @CofEGenSyn to show the C of E the support they have for taking action.

You can follow the General Synod debate on twitter and through a live video stream.

Oxfordshire youth representative for UN Earth Summit needs your support

Claire Morris, 23, from Abingdon, is one of over 100 young people from around the world competing for a Date With History. Each person, between the ages of 13 and 30 has entered a video, a vision of “The Future We Want”, which is the theme of the UN Summit. 20 years ago, a young 12-year-old girl from Canada silenced the world for 5 minutes with her speech to world leaders and negotiators of 192 UN member states.  Now Claire is in the running to do the same.

With your votes here and now, for Claire’s vision, we could be listening to a voice from Oxfordshire addressing the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio next month.

Claire has been part of the World Council of Churches Youth for Eco-Justice programme, and is an active member of the global Major Group of Children and Youth to the UNCSD, so she is well-informed and well-placed to speak for youth all over the world, and make sure that everyone’s priorities are included. She also travelled on the African Youth Climate Justice Caravan last November, so she has experienced Climate Change firsthand, and lived alongside impacted communities. Claire needs to be in the top 6 number of votes to get to the jury stage of the competition, so your vote counts.

The voting closes on Sunday May 6th, so please vote now!

Claire is also continuing to support young people she met in Africa… and this week, launched an ambitious crowd-sourced fundraising campaign to fund travel expenses for Njideka from Nigeria, Alpha from Kenya and James from Malawi to travel to the World Youth Congress and the Earth Summit in Rio. The vision is to get 200 donations of $20 (£15) in 2 weeks, from people in developed countries all around the world, so it is not only young people from Europe and America who will have the opportunity to defend their future in Rio.

Make a donation and find out more at http://www.indiegogo.com/RioPlusAfrica.

Questioning the temperature

Phil Kingston, a retired Lecturer in Social Work at Bristol University, says, “…since having grand-children, I have been concerned about how the changing context of the Earth is likely to affect them. For about 5 years I have been learning about the relationship between economic growth and consumption on the one hand; and the overuse of Earth’s resources and ecosystem destruction on the other. The more I learn, the more I am disturbed about the effects of the former upon God’s creation, the poorest peoples of the world and future generations. My biggest concern these days is how the media, politicians and business generally not only do not engage with these relationships: they don’t even refer to them. Indeed my experience is that they avoid referring to them.”

Recently he found the media and governments lack of engagement with the information in the 2011 World Energy Outlook was an example of this, and here he shares why he is concerned with this recent report:

‘Potential breaking of the 2 degrees C. internationally agreed limit to average world temperature’

The International Energy Agency (IEA) published its 2011 World Energy Outlook last November ( www.iea.org/weo/ ). This well-respected publication has particular credibility because the IEA was set up by the 28 richest Western countries which form the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation. It is, so to speak, from the horse’s mouth.

The Executive Summary contains two statements which are likely to be of deep concern to most adults.

  • The first refers to the current policies in place by world governments with regard to limiting average global temperatures to 2 degrees Centigrade – i.e. the average temperature increase which governments agreed at Kyoto to stay below. The report states that with these current policies ‘we are … on …. track for a temperature increase of 6 degrees Centigrade or more.’ And that with policies already agreed but still to be implemented by governments, ‘the world is on a trajectory that results in a level of emissions consistent with a long-term average temperature increase of more than 3.5 degrees Centigrade.’
  • The second is the reference that ‘Four-fifths of the total energy-related CO2 emissions permissible by 2035’ (i.e. the emissions which may keep the temperature increase to 2 degrees Centigrade), ‘are already ‘locked-in’ by our existing capital stock (power plants, buildings, factories etc. ‘. (The term ‘locked-in’ means that the plant, once built, continues to emit CO2 throughout its lifetime). The report goes on to state that if stringent action is not taken before 2017, the new plant then in place will be such that its ‘locked-in’ CO2 emissions will have the world on a trajectory to surpass the 2 degrees C. increase.

If you would like to write to your local paper and to the relevant Government Ministries, below are draft letters you could use:

Phil Kingston

Paul Kingston is a retired Lecturer in Social Work at Bristol University, and writes here in a personal capacity.

Earth Hour – 8.30pm 31 March 2012

WWF’s Earth Hour is a simple idea that’s quickly turned into a global phenomenon. Hundreds of millions of people turning off their lights for one hour, on the same night, all across the planet. It’s about appreciating the brilliant world we all share – and how we need to protect it. Not just for an hour a year, but every day.

Find out more and join in

Switch your church to green electricity

Energy can be the most significant spend for churches therefore good pricing is important as is good contract management to ensure tariffs remain competitive and parishes are not “rolled over” into uncompetitive contracts.

Switching supliers not only can savce you money it can also be complicated – so below we provide details of negotiated deals that make switching easy and include the best deals for churches on green renewable electricity suppliers.

The Diocese of Oxford schemes

The Diocese of Oxford has negotiated schemes with two of the UK’s leading green energy providers that make switching to green electricity easy and make donations to the Church of England’s Climate Justice Fund. Read more…

 

Parish Buying website schemes

The national Church of England has created the Parish Buying website to provide churches access to negotiated schemes with two of the UK’s leading green energy providers, as well as ‘brown’ energy providers.

Parish Buying have appointed the two leading national green energy suppliers, Good Energy and Ecotricity, to provide green electricity to churches. By purchasing green electricity through Parish Buying your church will be eligible for discounts off the standard tariffs.

Find out more and register for free at: www.parishbuying.org.uk/categories/energy.html

Note on rate of VAT

Irrespective of which company supplies your energy, as a church undertaking charitable activities, you should be eligible for exemption from the Climate Change Levy and also benefit from a reduced rate of VAT (currently 5%) . Do check your bills to ensure this is the case, and if not request a VAT declaration certificate from your energy supplier for you to complete and return to them.

* The Climate Justice Fund is the Church of England’s national environmental fund working in partnership with Tearfund. The Climate Justice Fund gives you and your church the opportunity to compensate for the size of your carbon footprint. The website also provides campaigning actions, and resources to help you pray and talk about this issue with others. www.climatejusticefund.org