Cherishing Churchyards Week – June 2014

cherishlogo-week-green-206x300 June is a special time to celebrate churchyards and burial grounds and to raise awareness of the treasures they contain. Cherishing Churchyards Week is run by Caring for God’s Acre and brings together lots of events you can join – below are some we know about in the Diocese of Oxford and you can find a full list here.

Anticipating Summer… A community picnic in the St Mary and St John Churchyard

Thursday 5 June – 6pm onwards

A friendly social evening with the chance to explore the churchyard’s wildlife and its links with local history.

Bring and share food.  Soft drinks provided.

Family friendly and children welcome! Weather contingency plan.

www.ssmjchurchyard.org.uk.

Fossil Free Future – 31st May 2014

On Saturday May 31st Fossil Free Oxfordshire’s disinvestment campaign will be marching from the Radcliffe Camera to Bonn Square in support of a fossil free future!

The Rev Hugh Lee, former Rector of St Michael’s at the Northgate, will be speaking at the Rally.

The University of Oxford and Oxfordshire Councils both invest millions of pounds into this the fossil fuel industry – and the campaign is calling on them to join the international movement to divest from fossil fuels, and invest in a fossil free future.

Saturday 31st May 2014 – 11am at Radcliffe Camera – Walk to Bonn Sq for 12pm

This will be a family-friendly, music filled action  – register at www.facebook.com/events/713467618706023/

It makes no sense to invest in companies which undermine our future” – Desmond Tutu

For details of a campaign in support of Fossil Free Churches see: http://www.operationnoah.org/fossilfueldisinvestment

 

Oxfordshire Green Open Homes – May 2014

GOH advert

Oxfordshire Green Open Homes is a great opportunity for people to engage with their local community about climate change. You could open up your own home to the scheme – or visit someones home locally to see what you could do in your own.

  • Find a local Green Open Home

Visit greenopenhomes.net

  • Open up your own Green Home

By opening your home to show Solar PVs or a new boiler you will have an opportunity to inspire visitors to take action to address climate change.  You can also take part to promote any lifestyle changes or low cost improvements, such as turning down the heating, putting foil behind radiators, wearing an extra jumper, or taking the bike instead of the car. The minimum requirement is to be open for just 2 hours.  If you’d like to take part please contact Lois Muddiman at The Low Carbon Hub for further details using the contact form below or call 01865 246099.

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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.

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

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.

Churchyard dry stone wall needed

Do you have a dry stone wall in your churchyard that needs rebuilding?

Conservation charity Caring for God’s Acre are looking for a wall to rebuild as part of a dry stone wall training course in the Diocese of Oxford. As the course will be for beginners the wall needs to be freestanding, below shoulder height, away from a road, on level ground and have enough stone to be rebuilt.

Caring for God’s Acre have repaired many walls via training courses. The course will be free to participants and only open to those managing burial grounds.

Please contact Andrea on 01588 673041 or andrea@cfga.org.uk if you have a wall or would like to attend the course.