Reconnecting church and earth in the 21st century – 29th April 2014

The Bishop of Dorchester is hosting the “Reconnecting church and earth in the 21st century” event at Dorchester Abbey on Tuesday April 29t 2014, 10am to 3.30pm.

In the biblical story of creation in Genesis the writer pictures humankind being formed from the earth and at the same time given responsibility for the creation. That theological metaphor shapes and determines the Christian’s understanding of our relationship to and stewardship of the earth. The purpose of our gathering will be to discover afresh how the church can continue to connect with the issues facing the land and the environment, and particularly build a partnership with the earth trust.

During the day we shall hear about the work of the earth trust at Little Wittenham, an update from the Environment Adviser, Matt Freer, and an introduction about the new Thames Path Pilgrimage from Sarah Meyrick (Strategic Adviser to the Bishop of Oxford and Diocesan Director of Communications).

The Bishop of Dorchester explains that: “The idea for this event arose after an excellent visit I had to the Earth Trust last autumn. I am keen not only to link the work the Earth Trust is doing with our churches and church schools in the diocese. I hope this event will go some way towards building stronger links. I hope you will be able to join me for this day!”

Full details here.

To book your place please contact Glyn Evans – the Diocesan Rural Officer – by April 11th using the form below:

Earth & Faith in Faringdon

EARTH & FAITH is a new ecumenical project for Churches Together in Faringdon, launching in May 2014.

EARTH & FAITH will be a focus group among the Faringdon churches, to help us develop our understanding and care of the environment.

As a pilot project, we are planning one whole year of monthly events – plenty of opportunities to:

  • celebrate the gifts of God in Creation
  • discover the interdependence of the natural world, including ourselves
  • learn about our human impact on ecological systems
  • resist apathy and despondency about ecological problems
  • find grounds for living in hope for the future of the Earth.

There are of course many interest groups in the neighbourhood that care about the environment, and some church members belong to these already. Our new group will not try to reinvent the wheel, but we do hope to be a channel of information and ideas from other sources to the churches, and a witness to our neighbours of the churches’ concern for these issues.

A small steering committee meets for the first time in April to begin to plan the programme. First events in early summer.

For further details and to get involved please contact Pam de Wit, member of All Saints Faringdon, using the form below:

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.

Plough Wednesday – 15th Jan 2014

PLOUGH WEDNESDAY 2014

January 15th 2014 10am – 4pm at SADDLEBACK FARM SHOP – BERKSHIRE

An opportunity to join with others in the Diocese of Oxford to learn about rural and agricultural issues.

Organized by the Diocesan Rural Team. Details below:

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

Fragile Earth Missional Community – 5th Oct

CHRIST Church Abingdon will be launching its new Fragile Earth Missional Community on October 5th at 7.45pm with a harvest evening.

Sample a selection of delicious homemade desserts, sip on some locally produced apple juice and relax in the company of good friends and music. The highlight of the night is our speaker Ruth Valerio, who manages ‘Living Lightly’ at A Rocha and is author of ‘L is for Lifestyle’. Please reserve your place by emailing the church office on office@cca.uk.net, or do get in touch if you require further information. The event takes place at New Barn, Christ Church Abingdon, OX14 1PL

If you can give a donation on the night to help  cover costs that would be very welcome, please pay what you can, we would just love you to be there. Any profits from the evening will be split between A Rocha (arocha.org) and Earth Trust (earthtrust.org.uk).

Cowley Deanery conservation project

This article first appeared in The Door July 2013 edition

AN Earthing Faith initiative to help congregations re-connect with nature has been launched in the Cowley deanery.

Andy with a feathered friend. The area, which is already renowned for the eco work done at St Mary and St John Churchyard, on the Cowley Road, is set to become the subject of a survey by A Rocha UK, a Christian environmental agency.

Dr Andy Gosler, (pictured right) a research lecturer in conservation and ornithology and a member of Holy Trinity, Headington Quarry, is the man behind the initiative. Andy has enlisted the help of local and national conservation and natural history groups. The scheme includes ringing robins so that children can identify them as individuals in churchyards and breakfast walks – early morning bird watching and wildlife walks in the deanery.

It is looking at a fungus survey in churchyards, looking at fungi and lichens that may have been growing for 800 or 900 years.

The Ashmolean Natural History Society, God’s Acre Foundation, Oxford Urban Wildlife Group and others are involved. “A Rocha wanted to set up an on-line system for recording nature in churchyards and wanted a couple of churches. I have offered them the whole deanery. They are looking at urban hubs, reconnecting urban situations with nature, and Oxford is the perfect place to test this,” said Andy, who is developing international links for the project and says it could spread from Cowley into other areas of the city. There is a lot that makes Cowley extremely suitable. There are significant areas of urban deprivation and problem areas. It’s exciting.”