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

Forest Church


Forest Church is a fresh expression in nature, drawing on contemporary research that highlights the benefits of spending time with nature in wild places and much older traditions when sacred places and practices were outside.

The idea provides for a fresh way of connecting with God in nature, and local groups are springing up all over the place, including in the Diocese of Oxford.

Forest Church registered groups:

Not yet registered groups:

  • Forest Church group in Carterton – has been exploring outdoor and bushcraft skills, led by Rev. James Maddern (meet at the Metal Horses, Kilkenny Country Park, nr Shilton Park, Carterton. All welcome, no experience required). Current plans: 6th July 2014 2.30pm – 3.30pm Forest Church Communion and 20th July 2014 2.30pm – 3.30pm Forest Church Activity Party

Find out more about Forest Church – and if there is a group near you – at www.forestchurch.co.uk. There is also a lively Facebook group, as well as a book (see below) full of resources, practical advice and theory to guide you in nature connection and in setting up a group.

Forest Church: A Field Guide

The guide book, Forest Church: A Field Guide to Nature Connection For Groups and Individuals by Bruce Stanley, introduces readers to the idea of nature connection and Forest Church and provides a plenty of ideas and inspiration for anyone thinking of starting a Forest Church.

Copies of the book can be ordered for £7.95 on the Mystic Christ website.

Here’s what others have said…

Bruce Stanley’s easy to read, inspiring, practical book is written with his skills as a life coach and a naturalist to the fore. He takes spirituality beyond its traditional confines of building and doctrine to a new kind of church that is earthed in experience of the outside world and the One who made it. His refreshing, inclusive and enthusiastic approach is timely and will speak to today’s hunger for a church that can reach wider and touch deeper simply by starting with the ground we stand on.
Tess Ward, Chaplain and author of The Celtic Wheel of the Year.

I sense that ‘Forest Church’ by Bruce Stanley will become a vital textbook for many of us who long to reconnect faith, being human and the natural world. Drawing on his own extensive experience, insights from other nature-experts and the spiritual practices of those who have never forgotten our belonging to the earth, this ‘Field Guide to Nature Connection’ engagingly offers a wealth of insights, ideas and resources to enable us to participate with nature. Time to get out into the forest!
Ian Adams, author of Cave Refectory Road and Running Over Rocks.

Don’t read this book if you’re not ready to be surprised – and quite possibly delighted. Our alienation from the natural world is well documented, and Bruce Stanley offers tried and tested ways to explore the connection, whether in urban park or remote forest – with the possibility of personal renewal and even encounters with the divine.
Olive Drane is author of Spirituality to Go, Fellow of St Johns College Durham, England and Affiliate Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, California.

Sharing Eden – a handbook to sustainable living

Sharing Eden is a new book that sets out to show how respect for the environment is at the heart of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. The handbook uses the teachings of the Abrahamic faiths to encourage a greener lifestyle.

The introductory handbook combines beautiful and enlightening texts from each faith’s religious teachings and worship to address some of the most prominent environmental issues faced today, such as waste, climate change and biodiversity. Drawing from both scripture and personal experience, each author brings a contemporary focus to the eternal challenge of caring for the Earth. The authors also hope to encourage further collaborative efforts and stimulate public awareness and debate on the book’s topics.

Editor Lindsay Swan explains: “Sharing Eden is a remarkable example of interfaith collaboration to reach a common goal – a more sustainable future for all.  The authors’ aim, as well as to build bridges between often-differing faiths, is to throw a green light on age-old traditions and practices. They provide clear, easy-to-follow advice on how we can all do our share to protect the Earth, whether we have a faith or not.”

The book is published jointly by The Conservation Foundation and Kube Publishing and is available to buy from KubePublishing.com, Amazon.co.uk, and Waterstones.com (RRP: £4.99).

For further information, visit www.sharingeden.org

Mystic Christ Wheel Of The Year

Bruce Stanley, Steve Hollinghurst and Stu McLellan have created a beautiful new resource designed to take people through the year, not with the 12 months but with 8 seasons of fire festivals, solar festivals and corresponding Christian and Celtic celebrations. Each plate gives information about the season, corresponding festivals and ideas of exercises to explore the themes, including exercises, meditations and reflections.

The eight-fold calendar is available from the Mystic Christ website, which is home of the Communities of the Mystic Christ, “a place for spiritual travellers of all traditions interested in exploring Jesus the Christ as a living reality and mystical guide through ancient practices and contemporary thought and experience.”

The Wheel Of The Year Calendar is available at the introductory price of £4.95 for the first 50 sold.

via Wheel Of The Year Calendar |:| Mystic Christ.

Let Live by John Madeley

Let Live: A bike ride, climate change and the CIA is the new novel about climate change by local author John Madeley. Through the eyes of an environment journalist on a bike it deals with the impact of climate change and the powerful interests that don’t want people to know who is causing it.

Cycling through West and East Africa, the guy on a bike meets people who have been forced from their homes because of the climate change that Western countries are largely causing. He writes critical articles about the West’s failure to curb carbon emissions, and is especially damning of United States policy. The US, he points out, is invading the sovereignty of other countries. The CIA don’t like it, and a plot is hatched to remove him.

Drama and pathos combine with wit and humour to make this a powerful novel for our time. Set in 2007, in the dying stages of the George W Bush presidency, the book is a strong challenge to Western government policies on climate change.

“Let Live” is published by Longstone Books. ISBN: 078-0-9568344-1-6;
240 pages, price £8.99.

“Entertaining, sharp, penetrating, an incisive account of the damage that climate change is doing to the poor. A searing indictment of the policies of Western country governments. Read it….and demand action” – Caroline Lucas MP

“A fascinating read, bringing out many poignant issues and experiences, amidst a gripping story line” – Jeff Alderson

Buy online or at your local book shop

Website: www.johnmadeley.com

For Creed and Creation Book

For Creed and Creation: A simple guide to greening your church is a great new little book of practical suggestions for making your church more energy efficient.

With simple ideas and advice from the way the building is run, to how rubbish is recycled and the light switches used, the guide will help to reduce bills and put your church on the right track to tackling your carbon footprint. Published by the Diocese of Oxford and co-written by local curate, Revd. Dr. Gillian Straine, the book includes details of local organisations and where to go for help.
“…churches aren’t just places of wonder, encounter and community; they’re also real buildings which make an impact on the natural world, and it’s our responsibility to make sure that their carbon footprint is as small as possible. We have over 800 church buildings in our diocese, and with all the people who pass through them in a year, we can influence literally hundreds of thousands more buildings.”
Bishop of Oxford
Copies of the booklet are available for:
  • £2.50 each – £3.28 including postage and packaging
  • £10 for five copies – £11.33 including postage and packaging
  • £15 for ten copies – £18.41 including postage and packaging

Order by Post: Send a cheque for the total amount (including postage and packaging), made payable to ‘Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance, to: For Creed and Creation Book, Environment Desk, Dept of Mission, Diocese of Oxford, North Hinksey, Oxford, OX2 0NB.

View online: You can view the contents of the book in the viewer below.

Oxfordshire Climate Change Community Groups Handbook

The Oxfordshire Climate Change Community Groups Handbook is a new resource for community groups in Oxfordshire, containing case studies, ideas, resources, links to groups and a heap of useful information, whether you’re just starting or looking for new ideas.

The handbook is produced by ClimateX – and you can view it online or download it as a PDF.