Developing an eco-friendly parish: a resource evening for churches in Reading and Berkshire
In 2014 Earthing Faith gatherings will bring people together to showcase resources to help churches explore environment related issues in a parish, with a particular focus on resources for worship.
The Reading gathering took place on Thursday 1st May at St Nicolas Church, Earley and included the following:
- The Bishop of Reading, introduced the evening by reminding us we cannot carry on as usual, that we need generous imaginations to recover who we are and are called to be, which is priests of creation, and that that brings a huge responsibility. Bishop Andrew talked about the need for a popularised green theology, and encouraged us that we can all do something, not matter how small.
- Rev Graeme Fancourt of St Luke with Bartholomew church in Reading introduced their new food-based project that is just getting off the ground. The aim is bring a wholistic approach to evangelism, social action and the environment by creating spaces for heart, mind and soul to mix and sit together, adn has grown out of their involvement in donating to local food banks. They hope to start a pop-up restaurant in their church hall, using food that has been grown in what will be an allotment garden at the back of the church. Everyone will eat together and the money raised will be used to help people to fill their pantry at home.
- Emma Major, Licensed Lay Minister (LLM) at St Nicolas Church, Earley, introduced Oakwood Forest Church, which met for the first time in November 2013. Sprouting from a visit to the New Forest Forest Church and conversations with friends from other churches in Earley. We are the sort of people who go for walks in the woods when we are trying to find some quiet time with God and so the idea of combining Church with nature was very appealing, especially in our very urban location. The great thing about starting a Forest Church is that there are no costs and no buildings to worry about. One quick conversation with the ranger of our nature reserve and another with our church insurers was all we needed to meet for the first time with everyones blessing.
What is Oakwood Forest Church? Oakwood Forest Church is:
- A fresh expression of church
- Open to everyone
- Christ Centered
- Part of a national network of Forest Churches.
- Wendy Neale from St Nicolas Church, Earley, talked about the work of the Justice, Peace and the Environment Group (JPEG) which meets regularly to look at social justice and environmental issues on behalf of the whole church. Activities have included:
- growing food with children;
- campaigning around the IF campaign;
- switching the church to green energy;
- having received a bequest for building work at the church, they will be embarking on improvements to the building that will be as green and energy efficient as possible;
- the church has strong links with Jubilee Centre in Zambia, and this relationship has been very important to how the congregation links globally, with members of the congregation visiting the centre and it’s work once a year.
- Joanna Laynesmith shared about her involvement with St Stephen and John Church, Reading and the work they did to be awarded the Eco-Congregation award. They started in 2006 and much of the work towards the award is shared on Joanna’s Greening St Johns blog – it included debates about banking, food and cleaning products, showing environmental films during creation-tide. Despite this erly success and getting the award in 2009, the church failed to keep the award at the next assessment. Joanna also shared about how her role with the church led into joining the Reading Environmental Network and Reading Climate Change Partnership, and plans to revitalise the Reading Christain Ecology Link.
- Mairi Johnstone, CEO of A Rocha UK, shared about the aims and objectives of A Rocha and the many resources that they have available – including the new At Your Service section of their website which includes many worship resources from Dave Bookless and others. Mairi also explained that the Eco-Congregation Award scheme is being re-launched later in 2014, and mentioned that A Rocha will also be launching a new project around land and re-connecting people to land near you.
- Maranda St John Nicolle, from CCOW and the Diocesan World Development Advisor, shared about how can we campaign on climate issues, and introduced us to a number of different opportunities, including:
- encouraging parties to deal responsibly with climate issues in their election manifesto policies (Hope for the Future: http://www.hftf.org.uk/ )
- sharing the reasons why we want to do something about climate change on the “For the Love of …” website: http://fortheloveof.org.uk/
- encouraging pension providers “to embed climate-awareness into their investment decisions, into dialogue with companies and into policy advocacy” (Share Action: http://www.shareaction.org.uk/greenlightcampaign)
- encouraging investors – personal or corporate (including churches, dioceses and the Church of England) – to divest from fossil fuels (Operation Noah’s Bright Now: http://brightnow.org.uk/, Bracknell deanery campaign: http://bit.ly/R2JZZK)
- joining in fasting and prayer with people from around the world on the 1st of each month (materials available from Christian Aid: http://bit.ly/S9YD2y and from Tearfund: http://bit.ly/S9YD2y)
- sharing in new advocacy campaigns with specific asks that will be coming out from CAFOD, Christian Aid and Tearfund in the coming year
- engaging in lifestyle campaigns through organisations like the Breathe network, Shrinking the Footprint … and Earthing Faith!
- Matt Freer, Diocesan Environment Officer, shared briefly about a number of diocesan resources to help churches ‘green’ their buildings and use their churchyards.
- The evening closed with worship led by Susie Stead and Rev Tim Stead – download as pdf.
Missed this gathering? There will also be a similar gathering on Thursday 9th October 2014 with the Bishop of Buckingham in Aylesbury.