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.

Speaker opportunity – Why didn’t you save the forest?

Church Mission Society mission partner, Dr Andrew Leake, is visiting the UK from  September 14th to September 28th 2014.  Andrew works with the indigenous peoples in the Chaco region, and is engaged in pioneering work to protect the environment and prevent deforestation there. If your church would be interested in hearing from Andrew, please do contact Katie Jenkinson at CMS on 01865 787522.

Listen to Andrew speaking about the environment.

St George continues to go green…

St George’s Church in Wash Common, nr Newbury have been busyover the last few years making their building more welcoming and warmer.

Through their innovative George Goes Green project the church has been creating a warm, welcoming, usable, sustainable, community space by:

  • Ensuring the church building is accessible, flexible, affordable and widely used for local events
  • Installing a cost effective heating system with low running costs to benefit future generations
  • Lowering our carbon footprint; using green energy and moving away from fossil fuels
  • Flexible hire rates according to means What have we done so far…?
  • Replaced and insulated the church ceiling
  • Installed 129 solar panels plus control systems, and connected to the national grid
  • Added secondary glazing to high windows
  • Created a thermal lobby at the cloister entrance with independent accessAdded a welcome area and re-worked the north car park
  • Resolved pre-existing damp problems

“So much has already been achieved. And now it’s time for the final push; to install a sustainable heating system and open up the church to community use.”
Revd Paul Cowan, Vicar

The project is now moving on to renewable heat through a ground source heat pump.

What’s left to do?

  • To harness ground source heat, requiring 5 boreholes in church grounds
  • To replace the old and inefficient boiler with a ground source heat pump
  • To replace the church floor and install under-floor heating
  • To glaze the north transept to enable its use as a multipurpose meeting space

To help the church to realise the final phase of the project they are asking people to:

  • Use, and recommend, St George’s as an events venue to your friends and neighbours
  • Donate to the project – collect a green form from the back of church
  • Organise a fundraising event
  • Keep your eyes peeled for external funding opportunities
  • Spread the word – raise our profile!
  • Pray for the church community and this project

For more information about the project visit:

www.georgegoesgreen.org

www.st-george-newbury.org

For more information about renewable energy options and your church visit the Diocese o Oxford website.

Deanery Calls For Disinvestment From Fossil Fuel Companies

Revd. Dr. Darrell Hannah Rector of All Saints’, Ascot Heath explains about a move in Bracknell Deanery to call for the Church of England to disinvest from fossil fuel companies and how you can help…

In Febraury 2014 General Synod of the Church of England voted overwhelmingly in support of the Church strengthening its work on the environment, 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.

Building on this support in February 2014 Bracknell Deanery passed a motion urging the National Investment Bodies of the Church of England to disinvest from Fossil Fuel companies. The motion was an amended version of a motion which originated in the PCC of All Saints’, Ascot Heath.

When the motion was first introduced to the Deanery Synod, in December 2013, there was much uncertainty over the issue of disinvestment. So a special meeting of the Deanery Synod, but one open to non-members, was organised to explore the issue. Speakers on various sides of the issue were invited: Bishop David Atkinson and Mark Letcher, both of Operation Noah, and Dr James Corah, of CCLA. This proved to be a very informative evening.

Before the Deanery Synod met again, in February, I wrote the following paper – Download the proposal for Bracknell Deanery Synod here – and after some debate the motion was passed. In the House of Clergy there were five votes in favour, one against and five abstentions. In the House of Laity there were thirteen in favour, three against and four abstentions.

The motion will now be considered by Oxford Diocesan Synod at its November meeting – and we are calling for other deaneries to pass similar motions in the run-up to diocesan synod. If you would like to explore doing that please do be in touch with me using the contact form below.

This is part of a wider movement and the Bright Now campaign is calling for people to sign a petition and write directly to the Church Commissioners in the Church of England.

Contact Revd. Dr. Darrell Hannah Rector of All Saints’, Ascot Heath

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.

Environment and Hope – latest edition of Anvil Journal

Revd. Margot Hodson tells us about the Environment and Hope project…

Serious issues about the environment seem to be in the news on a regular basis. This combined with the lack of progress on international climate change negotiations, have led many people with environmental concerns to lose hope.

Three years ago Margot Hodson and Ruth Valerio met up and realised that their hope was also running a little thin. As speakers, their hope had become less proximate and more eschatological. In other words it had changed from “we can fix it” to “it will all work out OK in the end”. Thus began the “Environment and Hope” project. They first gathered a small group of theologians, scientists and activists in Oxford in October 2011 to thrash out some ideas.

In May 2012, they held a much larger meeting called “Communicating Hope” at High Leigh Conference Centre, with 60 people, many of whom are involved in communicating the news about climate change and other environmental problems to Christian audiences. The keynote speakers included theologian Richard Bauckham, and Andy Atkins, the Executive Director of Friends of the Earth. We then needed to publish all this material, and it was Richard Bauckham who suggested that it could go into a special issue of Anvil, the theological journal.

The “Environment and Hope” volume was published online on 5th September 2013, around three years after Ruth and Margot Hodson began the process. All the papers are open access and are FREE to download at the journal website: www.anviljournal.org

Anvil (Volume 29, Issue 1, September 2013, pp. 1–129) contains the following articles:

  • Margot R. Hodson: Editorial: Discovering a Robust Hope for Life on a Fragile Planet.
  • Martin J. Hodson: Losing Hope? The Environmental Crisis Today.
  • John Weaver: Exploring Hope. Richard Bauckham: Ecological Hope in Crisis?
  • Archbishop Thabo Makgoba: Hope and the Environment: A Perspective from the
  • Majority World.
  • Andy Atkins: Communicating Hope in the Real World.
  • Bishop Geoff Davies: Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI).

Revd. Margot Hodson is author of Cherishing the Earth and Vicar of the benefice of Haddenham

Church energy audit scheme launched

St. Peters Church

  • Does your church struggle to keep the heat in your building during the chilly winter months?

  • Would you like the building to be warmer, more welcoming AND cost less money to run?

The Diocese of Oxford and the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE2) have developed a grant scheme to provide churches with expert energy efficiency advice tailored to their building, aiming to help PCCs to save money and run buildings more sustainably.

The scheme is restricted to 24 churches in Oxfordshire, and churches are invited to apply for the first round of the grant scheme by the end of October 2013.

“This scheme is such good news! Increasing energy efficiency in church buildings can seem a daunting project. We need to juggle the different comfort levels for a variety of users with the historic nature of our buildings, whilst keeping costs down.

“Now, thanks to this joint scheme, we can offer churches in Oxfordshire access to expert advice, tailored to their buildings and use, which will make them more comfortable and energy efficient, and reduce not just the carbon footprints of our church buildings, but also energy bills.”

Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher

Further information

* Update – Nov 2013: The scheme is now full and we are currently closed to new applications. Register an interest by contacting TOE2 and the Diocesan Environment Officer, using the details below, and we will alert you when the scheme re-opens for new applications. *

The scheme is adminstered by TOE2. To apply complete the application form and return it to Fiona Danks at TOE2.

For further information contact Fiona Danks at TOE2 on 01865 883488 (Wed and Thurs only), email toe@oxonrcc.org.uk or visit www.trustforoxfordshire.org.uk.

To discuss audit options for churches outside Oxon contact Matt Freer, the Diocesan Environment Officer.

How the scheme works

The scheme will provide a grant towards the cost of an energy audit that will be carried out by qualified staff from Sustain (www.sustain.co.uk), who will make a site visit and then write a report with detailed recommendations of ways to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs.

Sustain is a carbon reduction company which advises on practical ways to reduce energy and carbon emissions. They have extensive experience of carrying out  energy audits on a wide range of buildings and have particular experience of working with listed buildings and historic places of worship. Sustain will work with the DAC to ensure recommendations are in line with current guidelines.

The total cost of each audit is £660. The available grant is £540 – and so the church is asked to provide the balance of £120.

In the case of very small churches (Electoral Roll below 30) an additional subsidy will be given by the Diocese of Oxford to halve the cost (ie the church only pay £60).

Following an audit, churches may apply to TOE2 for a grant of up to £5,000 to support any of the recommended improvement works.

> Printable version of this information

This grant scheme has been made possible thanks to the support of: the Patsy Wood Trust, the Beatrice Laing Trust and Charlie Laing.

www.oxford.anglican.org/environment | www.trustforoxfordshire.org.uk

Photo: St. Peters Church by JonoTakesPhotos, on Flickr