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.

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.

2013: A year of food – Food Matters

Food Matters is a new project from the Diocese of Oxford to help churches reconnect with the seasons, celebrate festivals, and explore global and local food related themes.

Food Matters starts with a launch event from 7.30pm on 24 January in Oxford when four exceptional people – Roy Lambourne (farmer and agricultural consultant); Mike Rayner (priest and public health expert); Ruth Valerio (theologian, author and activist); and Paul Valentin (international director of Christian Aid) will speak about “What Food Means to Me.”

Please do join us for this event – details and registration at: www.foodmatters.org.uk/launch-event/

We’re also asking people to share what food means to them as Christians. See what others have said and add your thoughts on the Food Matters website at: www.foodmatters.org.uk/what-does-food-mean-to-you/

Join the Food Matters mailing list to receive an email about the first Food Matters resource at the end of January called “Preparing the Ground” and focussed on winter. Three further resources will follow in the year –  ideas for celebrating festivals and with opportunities to reflect; to pray; to “grow your own”; to share local and global stories; and to take action for a fairer food system for all.

Find out more and join the Food Matters mailing list at www.foodmatters.org.uk.

 

Gardening against the Odds award

The Conservation Foundation and the Sunday Telegraph have launched the 2012 Gardening Against The Odds Awards, which celebrate those
inspirational people  who create beauty in the face of physical or psychological difficulties,  or an inhospitable environment.

To enter the awards, visit the Conservation Foundation website by Monday 17th September.

www.conservationfoundation.co.uk

Operation Noah Declaration

Leaders  of the UK’s mainstream churches are today calling for repentance over the prevailing ‘shrug-culture’ towards climate change by signing Operation Noah’s Ash Wednesday Declaration.

‘Traditionally, Christians commit themselves to repentance and renewed faith in Jesus Christ on Ash Wednesday,’ said David Atkinson, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Southwark. ‘We must live out that faith in relation to our damaging consumer economy, over-dependence on fossil fuels and the devastation we, as a species, are inflicting on God’s world. We believe that responsible care for God’s creation is foundational to the Gospel and central to the church’s mission.’

The Declaration is framed around seven biblical themes and argues that, to be a Christian is to accept the call to radical discipleship and to work through the implications for church life of a real change in lifestyle. In 1934 the Church took a stand with the Barmen Declaration which rejected Nazism.  The lead author, Karl Barth, had guts.  He mailed the declaration to Hitler personally.  The authors believed that the subordination of the church to the Nazi state was a confessional issue, an issue which touched the very heart of faith, not something that they could politely disagree about. Operation Noah believes climate change to be a confessional issue of similar magnitude.

The declaration affirms that God wants a richly abundant earth.  It states that now we know the dangers of climate change, repentance is the responsibility of every Church and every believer.  It argues that the challenges facing us are not merely economic and scientific but are moral and spiritual as well, and that we must hold our governments and corporations to account.

Operation Noah is encouraging individuals and church fellowships to read through the Ash Wednesday Declaration carefully and then, if willing, to sign the pledge on their website, where you will also find a wide range of resources to support the Declaration: www.operationnoah.org.

Carbon Fast for Lent 2012

Join Tearfund and churches across the world for the Carbon Fast this Lent – starting on Wednesday 22 February – with daily actions and prayers to help you and your church reduce your emissions.

Whether you’re a nervous novice or a carbon-cutting champion, there’s something in this year’s Carbon Fast for you.

The daily actions focus on weekly themes providing something for all walks of life, including more adventurous actions for carbon-cutting experts who want a challenge and weekly actions who’s like to take things more slowly.

How to take part – three ways

  1. Get the actions: Download the actions at www.tearfund.org/carbonfast or order an action guide from resources.tearfund.org or by calling 0845 355 8355.
  2. Sign up for Carbon Fast daily emails at www.tearfund.org/carbonfast – these include reflections and prayers and will be sent to you every day during Lent.
  3. Follow the Carbon Fast on Twitter – @carbonfast, #carbonfast

Please tell your church or small group too. Look for ways for your church to take part in the Carbon Fast, for example by featuring an action a week. You can order action guides in packs of 5 if you’d like lots to share with your church or group.