Whose World is it Anyway?

A Rocha UK, the Christian Environmental Charity, has recently produced a new resource for the RE GCSE faith and the environment module. The pack contains video clips, 10 lesson plans, power point presentations and a colourful pupil booklet with exercises.

You can see sample resources on their website at: www.arocha.org.uk/education, where you can also buy the pack online.

The GCSE Resource Pack includes a DVD & Booklet, plus classroom and homework activities, Powerpoint presentations, short films and printable resources – material for 10 lessons. It is suitable for RE at GCSE and Key Stage 3 & 4 and covers 6 theme:

  1. Wow! What is so amazing about the world? (to think about views and attitudes towards the natural world)
  2. Origins (to discover and evaluate Christian beliefs about how the world was created)
  3. God, People and Nature (to discover what the Bible teaches about caring for the environment, and to reflect on our responsibility for the natural world)
  4. Rubbish Dump World (to analyse the problems caused by environmental damage, and various Christian responses)
  5. What does A Rocha do and why? (to use A Rocha as a case-study of a Christian response to the environment, focusing on projects in Kenya, India and the UK)
  6. Reflections (to review Christian teachings and own behaviour with regard to the environment)

Find out more at www.arocha.org.uk/education

Heritage Angel Awards

Are you involved in rescuing a historic place? If so, tell English Heritage about your work and you could be voted one of English Heritage’s 2011 Heritage Angels.

The English Heritage Angel Awards launched this year to celebrate the work of individuals and groups who have saved a significant historic place that was at risk of being lost forever. The closing date for entries is 12 August 2011.

There will be four annual awards for:

  • the best rescue or repair of a place of worship
  • the best rescue of an industrial building or site
  • the best craftsmanship employed on a heritage rescue
  • the best rescue of any other entry on the Heritage at Risk register.

Four projects will be shortlisted for each category and the people involved will be invited to meet Andrew Lloyd Webber and the other judges at a reception at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End. The reception will take place in the Autumn where the winners will be presented with a statuette in the form of an angel.

For further inforamtion visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/caring/heritage-at-risk/English-Heritage-Angel-Awards/

Creation Tide 2011 – Our Daily Bread Resource

Every year we encourage church communities to observe Creation Tide (aka a Time for Creation) and in 2011 it runs for the five weeks from 1 September to 4 October, which, with the downtime of summer holidays, may mean you need to start planning early.

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) produce resources for Creation Tide each year, and this year the chosen focus is  ‘Food in God’s creation’ under the heading Our Daily Bread.

CTBI have produced a range of resources to equip churches and help planning  – and they are available now on their website to download. The Our Daily Bread resources include:

  • Sermon notes – include a series of themed sermons for each week of creation tide, plus two longer sermons
  • Re-imagining Harvest – a creative suggestion for a new form of Harvest Festival and community event
  • Ecumenical service outline – complete with PowerPoint presentation
  • Discussion group resource – through two case studies, and questions to aid discussion, a group is equipped to look at farming practices in the UK and ask what does sustainable farming in the UK mean for us?
  • Background paper – a three page background paper on food, agriculture and issues for consumers.

Download all the Our Daily Bread resources here.

Creation Tide resources from previous years can be found here. Also check out other resources mentioned on Earthing Faith.

Do you have resources that could be used in Creation Tide? Get in touch or leave a comment below.

‘What’s the food like?’, ‘Who is providing the food?’, ‘Is there enough food to go round?’ Our everyday talk constantly makes reference to food, which is no surprise, as food and drink are essentials for life and survival.When we pray “Give us our daily bread” we are both acknowledging our dependence on God’s generosity and our realisation that the answer to that prayer needs to include agriculture, commerce, sharing, trade-justice, animal welfare, diet and a host of other considerations.

Diocese of Oxford Environment Map

The Diocese of Oxford has created an online map showing many of the environment based projects and groups active in the Diocese – from eco church building projects to biodiversity in churchyards and local community groups focussed on environmental issues.

Click here to view map

Add your own project or group:

To add your project email the following details of the project to: environment@oxford.anglican.org or call 01865 208745.

Please include the following details:

  • a brief description of your project
  • name of your church and group
  • the address/postcode of your church
  • plus include a photo and website address where people can find out more

Green Flag Community Award

The Green Flag Community Award is given to community sites which display high standards of maintenance, management and community involvement, and are managed by the community. Woodlands, allotments, churchyards and public gardens have all been winners.

Could your church community be eligible to apply?

BTCV, Keep Britain Tidy and GreenSpace are supporting groups and local people to apply for the award – and can help groups through all stages of the application process, advising on eligibility, application and judging.

For more information contact Nina Sperinck (n.sperinck@btcv.org.uk OR 01296 330 033) – and visit here and here.

Abingdon Hydro

“If I had known what I was taking on, I doubt if I would have started….” People probably think that more often than they say. But the commitment is made, and you don’t intend to back out. For me it’s Abingdon Hydro.

I have tried in small ways to encourage churches down an eco friendly path, but I didn’t feel I was getting far. The usual ‘way in’ is the appeal of the natural world, but my expertise lies in the physical sciences, so I have not been able to organise the kind of activities that might attract a congregation.

However I do know about climate change, so I have been part of Abingdon Carbon Cutters, one of the many Community Action Groups scattered around Oxfordshire. We decided to focus on three areas: education, energy, and food, and I found myself taking responsibility for the energy group. I had not intended to, and I didn’t know where to start. In a town as big as ours, it looked a bit overwhelming.
I don’t remember where the idea of a flagship project came from, or when hydroelectric power from the Thames was first mentioned, but it seemed to fit – it would be a very visible example of renewable energy, in a very public place. As soon as I started talking about it, I found people who were interested.

Then there was a period of about 6 months when helpful events started popping up in front of me, and I was carried along by a feeling of knowing what to do. There were meetings at just the right time, and I met the right people. Then I sensed that it was time to take the plunge, and see if anyone wanted to join me in making it happen, because I knew I could not do it on my own. To my surprise and relief (“oh you of little faith…”) 6 people responded.

So we became 7 directors of a Community Interest Company. There is much to do, and we are quite a mixed bunch, but we seem to get on OK, and it is good to have a variety of talents and points of view. I am prepared to do a large part of the work, because I am the only one who is fully retired, but I also have to make sure I involve them and ask for help as much as possible, and to see that decisions are properly talked through. If you would like to see what we aim to do, it’s at www.abingdonhydro.co.uk.

After a lot of preparatory work, including big tasks like planning permission and an Environment Agency licence, there will be a share issue. We want to raise about a million pounds, but it’s a good investment. As a community project, part of the income goes to the shareholders and part into the wider community. How we work that out will raise interesting questions, but you could say that getting the community relationships right is the key thing, and the rest is just project management.

I believe God has called me to do this. It is mission, out at the pioneering end of the spectrum, but we are all called to go and make good use of the resources God has given. In that sense it is spiritual work, just as much as teaching, caring and the more traditional Christian vocations.

There has been a sense of momentum in the way this project started, but a question remains, that bothers me: should I have persisted within the church? What if they had decided to endorse and encourage it? A good team could have been assembled. It would be clearly identified as a local church project, and probably more widely known than it is now. Assuming it had the same legal status as we are adopting, “for the benefit of the community”, it would give the church a very positive image, and attract people who otherwise would have nothing to do with the church. Church members would have the opportunity to invest, and tell others about it. It would produce a community share that could be reinvested in other projects, with the approval of the shareholders. At the site there will be an information centre, for educational purposes, but what if it had included an explanation of why this was a church initiative, and how our belief in a creator God motivates us to look after his creation, and make good use of its resources? Just suppose….

There are more opportunities out there. The Big Society is not just a slogan – central government really is trying to devolve responsibility downwards. Of course part of the motive is to save money, but it’s no good just sitting back and complaining about it. Government will step back, and legislation is removing barriers to community groups. Did you know that Abingdon Town Council’s motto is “Faith and industry”? Churches can make a difference in the public arena. There will be vulnerable people needing help, and churches will need programmes to look after them, but our environment too is vulnerable and in need of protection. If we don’t, future generations, even our own children, will be amazed at how foolishly we took for granted the creation of which we are part and on which we depend.

The community action group in West Oxford recently organised the planting of 1000 trees in SW Oxford. It was to be done by volunteers, and it gave the organiser sleepless nights. What if nobody turned up? What if 1000 people turned up and most had to be sent away? In the event it was cold and wet, and about 100 people turned up and planted all the trees. They had a good time, and felt they belonged, and were making a difference in their community. Now they form the nucleus of a new group in South Oxford. This is pioneering work being done by a secular group, who want to change the culture of the whole city to a low carbon future. So they know they have to think big and take risks. Surely there is a lesson there for churches?

Richard Riggs is a member of the Oxford Diocese Environment Group and member of Christ Church Abingdon.

For more information on Abingdon Hydro visit www.abingdonhydro.co.uk

Alastair Mcintosh: Rekindling communities – Monday 4th July 2011

The Milton Keynes Christian Foundation is organising an evening with Alastair Mcintosh on ‘Rekindling communities: Engaging People, Power and Place in Times of Indifference’.

We live in a world where the possibilities for social and environmental change are greater than ever, yet the problems seem ever more intractable. Why are things so blocked? What forms of discernment might help us better to understand the state that we are in, to build courage and find hope even where optimism might have dropped away?

In this illustrated presentation Alastair McIntosh will use his work with rural land reform and urban regeneration to demonstrate broad aspects of the human condition in today’s world. He will suggest that the secular experiment has failed to nourish the roots of what it means to be human. We must come to see more clearly our condition, seek to recover lost humanity, and do so from a depth that is nothing less than spiritual.

What might that mean, and what can it look like in practice when up against real-life situations of poverty, environmental degradation and the constant background hum of war?

Alastair McIntosh is a Fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology and Visiting Professor of Human Ecology at the University of Strathclyde. His writing, which includes Soil and Soul, Rekindling Community and Hell and High Water, has been described by George Monbiot as “world–changing”, the Bishop of Liverpool as “life-changing”, and by Thom Yorke of Radiohead as “truly mental.”

Date: Monday 4th July 2011 – 6.00-8.00 pm

Venue: The Cruck BarnCity Discovery CentreAlston DriveBradwell AbbeyMilton KeynesMK13 9AP

Further information: www.mkchristianfoundation.co.uk / Tel: 01908 312843/311112 / Email: admin@mkchristianfoundation.co.uk