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

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.

Lent resources 2011

Lent is the traditional time of the year when many churches and groups will give something-up or look at running a course on a particular aspect of faith and life. Here are a few of resources that may be of interest…

1. Carbon Fast

Tearfund are again running Carbon Fast  to help tackle climate change and its impact on our global neighbours. Join the fast from 9 March and each day receive a prayer, a reflection, and a lifestyle or campaign action to take. There are weekly themes of simplicity, sacrifice, community, justice, creativity and generosity.

To get started and sign up for daily emails visit www.tearfund.org/carbonfast, where you will also be able to download resources, including a weekly guide for churches.

2. Lent course from Reading campaigning network

The Reading campaigning network have launched a Lent course for 2011. JESUS, THE EARTHLY POWERS AND US, has been devised by Reading Churches Campaigning Network, and is a 5-week course that delves deep into Scripture and into recent scholarship on power and justice. It starts from the words of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’. It looks at the ‘New Vision’ of Jesus which has come from Biblical scholars and theologians, including Rowan Williams and Walter Wink, and covers matters such as, What was Jesus really like?, The Lost Message of Jesus, Christians and mammon, Christians and climate change, and what action should we be taking.

An A5 booklet for course participants is available, price £3.50 including postage. The course foundation was laid by Hamish Preston and booklet has been shaped by Peter and Lesley Boardley, Owen Jewiss and John Madeley.

Copies are available from: Hamish Preston, 19 Oaklands, Bulmershe Road, Reading RG1 5RW. e-mail: ghhpreston@aol.com (Cheques should be sent and made payable to ‘Hamish Preston’). Telephone queries to John Madeley, 01189 476063.

3. 21M

Another course that may be of interest for Lent is 21M – an eight-part DVD resource exploring the Five Marks of Mission for the 21st century produced by CMS. The Five Marks are an internationally recognised description of the elements of Christian mission involving evangelism, discipleship, relief and education, justice and creation-care

Using group activities and games, Bible studies, video interviews with current thinkers and practitioners (including Dave & Anne Bookless of A Rocha UK) and examples of mission in action from around the world 21M explores the Marks of Mission in some depth. The resource aims to inspire churches and groups to put the Marks of Mission into action. 21M is designed to be a flexible resource – structured to run as an eight-week course on mission, but elements could be used alone. The course is designed to be suitable for use by cell and home groups, youth groups (aged 14+), Lent groups, and whole churches. It consists of a DVD with film clips and a Leader’s Guide.

More information on the 21M DVD can be found at www.cms-uk.org/21M, where it can also be ordered for £4.95.

4. Future Shape?

BMS World Mission has also released a course with studies for groups and individuals, video comments from experts in the field and a video, including contributions from Dr Elaine Storkey, President of Tearfund, broadcaster and writer, Rev Dave Bookless, A Rocha UK,  and Sir John Houghton, Nobel Prize-winning Climatologist.

You can download Future Shape? or order it as a free DVD from www.bmsworldmission.org/futureshape.

Are you using other resources that you can recommend? Please share them in the comments section.

Grow Zones – get your community growing

How can you combine growing your own delicious food, making new friends, learning a natural growing method, and the opportunity to reconnect at a deep, spiritual level with creation? The answer is Grow Zones, a community growing project that you can start in your neighbourhood and church.

Designed specifically with churches in mind, Grow Zones provides an opportunity to engage new people from your neighbourhood in a simple, practical project that bears on our common concern for the earth.

The idea is very simple. Someone from a local church or neighbourhood hears about Grow Zones and, with the aid of the Grow Zones kit, forms a local team. People are introduced to a natural growing method known as Permaculture and helped to redesign their gardens so they can grow more of their own fruit and veg. Each team is offered insurance as part of the package, and sets out on a series of visits, where they work on one another’s gardens to make their dreams real. The commitment is deliberately light just four mornings make up the whole course, but experience shows that deep bonds form between people, lasting friendships are made and many go on to experience and learn more.

One participant said having experienced Grow Zones:

“I have longed to do something really positive about caring for creation. As part of the Grow Zones pilot in Bristol, and being introduced to Permaculture, I have been set on a fascinating journey that has transformed my view of the world we live in and resulted in my becoming involved in a whole set of community growing projects here in Bristol. It seems to me that reconnecting with the land, and with growing our own food, is an extraordinarily powerful means to help us reconsider how we are living and  to build fresh expressions of community life. There was a sort of implicit and deep spirituality that pervaded our experience of Grow Zones here in Bristol, as if God was there among us as we worked together. As a Christian minister, I have also been concerned to express concern for creation in a way that is more than theory, or just ‘doing without’ something. It seems to me that the great biblical hope for peace and harmony in creation finds real expression in the hearts of those who join together in a project like Grow Zones.”

Start a Grow Zones Team

The GrowZones Kit

Would you be interested in starting a group in your area? You don’t necessarily need to have any gardening experience, all you need is to be good at organising and encouraging people. If you can gather a group of people together, the Grow Zones Kit will provide the help and resources to get you growing for your first season.

For more information, and to start a team, visit www.growzones.com.

Grow Zones is a national project – supported by the Local Food fund – and a series of Christ and the Earth retreat days supports the programme. To book a retreat day and find out more about the community behind Grow Zones visit www.earthabbey.com.


Exploring Creation Spirituality

Photo: lars hammar

During Lent this year StillPoint – a project I co-run aimed at nurturing spiritual practice from within the Christian mystical and contemplative tradition but also engaging with other spiritual traditions and the arts – ran an experiential course in Creation Spirituality, a theology that can be helpful to understand and explore when responding to environmental issues.

Creation Spirituality is a phrase originally coined by Matthew Fox (but now in popular usage) to denote a form of spirituality that is based on an understanding of, a relationship with, and an immersion in, creation. Fox – formerly a Dominican monk until silenced by the Vatican and now an American Episcopalian – developed his ideas in his infamous book ‘Original Blessing’.

His basic premise is that much of the western Christian tradition has been based on what he calls a ‘fall-redemption’ paradigm. This has resulted in a hugely under-developed theology of creation, an obsession with guilt and sin, an anthropocentric cosmology, and countless other problems. So instead of Genesis 3 as a starting point for our meaning-making, Fox asserts that we need instead to begin with Genesis 1, with what he calls ‘original blessing’ (as opposed to ‘original sin’).  This is the understanding that at it’s heart all of life is good and sacred. The universe is fundamentally benevolent and to be trusted. This is the essence of the first of the 4 pathways that make up Creation Spirituality – the Via Positiva. But this doesn’t mean that Fox doesn’t acknowledge darkness and broken-ness. The second pathway – the Via Negativa – deals with these themes but also opens up the great apophatic tradition (which finds its roots in the Orthodox tradition) – that God is also to be found in darkness as well as light. The third pathway – the Via Creativa – flows from the second. From this place of trusting in the darkness great creativity emerges in the same way that a seed grows in the darkness before bearing it’s fruit. Fox encourages us to believe that we are all artists. Art is so often thought of in elitist terms. Fox calls instead for its democratization. Lest this be seen to be too self indulgent, the fourth pathway in Fox’s model is the Via Transformitiva – where our creative energy is put to work to address injustice and see change come to our world.

If you’d like to explore Creation Spiritulaity, and the work of Matthew Fox in this area, further you can hear audio recordings and download course notes from the 5 sessions I led in during Lent at the Resources page on the StillPoint website (www.thestillpoint.org.uk). The course will run again at some point so to be kept informed of when that might be sign up for the StillPoint monthly newsletter.

Matt Rees is a priest in the Anglican Diocese of Oxford, a leader of a small spiritual community called ‘Home‘, one of the founding Directors of ‘StillPoint‘ – a project aimed at nurturing spiritual practice, and a member of the Diocesan Fresh Expressions Oversight Group.

The story of stuff resource

sosThe Story of Stuff started as a 20-minute on-line film that explores the often hidden environmental and social consequences of our love affair with ‘stuff’. Since then the project has developed new films looking at The Story of Bottled Water, and The Story of Cap & Trade. They are all accesible introductions to complex problems, which may be helpful resources for group discussions.

In addition the project has also produced Let There Be… Stuff? – a faith-based resource designed for a groups of young people between 13-18 years old. It is divided into six sections and provides opportunities for young people to:

  • Think – gain new information about stuff and think about its impact on their lives
  • Reflect on God’s teachings related to the topic
  • Engage the theme more deeply
  • Get Inspired by actions others have taken
  • Enact what they’ve learned with an Action Plan

The resources are US in style and content, but should work for a UK audience, and may just help group leaders tackle complex issues in new ways.

Find out more at: www.storyofstuff.com

The ecocell journey

Guest post by Tony Emerson of Christian Ecology Link

The ecocell programme, organised by Christian Ecology Link (CEL), is a toolkit to help people go on a journey or pilgrimage towards sustainable living in our personal lives. It can be travelled by groups of friends, neighbours, or church members. There are three stages to the journey.

In Stage One you learn further about the main issues that give rise to ecological damage, discuss the influences on our collective and individual behaviours, measure our personal impacts (footprints) and take action to minimise those impacts. This stage can be completed within a few months, but each group sets its own pace. Stage one of the programme can be downloaded from our website.

Stage Two (to be launched in November 2010) will be for those who are willing to take on the very demanding commitment of completing the journey to sustainability. We will commit ourselves to getting our carbon footprints down to the actual level required for sustainability. We will also ensure that we respect the laws of nature (in which we see the hand of our Creator) and the needs of the natural world, in all aspects of our lives.

Stage Two is for people who have completed Stage One. It will involve significant further learning, very committed action at the personal level, and at the local political level. Like in Stage One, we are supported through prayer, poetry, stories and group activities, and by a range of resources organised by CEL. We anticipate that this stage will take a period of about five years, to make the necessary changes in our lives. There are now forty participants on this stage of the programme.

Stage Three will take the form of on-going support groups for those who have concluded Stage Two.  Participants continue to be supported through an on-line community.

You don’t have to commit to the whole journey initially, just to Stage One, and perhaps go on from there.

If you would like to embark on the journey – or to join us at the second stage of it – and for more information contact me at CEL.

CEL are building up a team of people who can offer support in technical or organisational areas, or with spiritual guidance. Contact CEL if you can offer help in developing the programme.

Tony Emerson is the ecocell Programme Co-ordinator for Christian Ecology Link. For further information visit: http://www.greenchristian.org.uk/ecocell