Earthing Faith Gathering – 1st May 2014


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
  • Non-denominational
  • 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.
  • 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: )
  • sharing the reasons why we want to do something about climate change on the “For the Love of …” website:
  • encouraging pension providers “to embed climate-awareness into their investment decisions, into dialogue with companies and into policy advocacy”  (Share Action:
  • encouraging investors – personal or corporate (including churches, dioceses and the Church of England) – to divest from fossil fuels (Operation Noah’s Bright Now:, Bracknell deanery campaign:
  • joining in fasting and prayer with people from around the world on the 1st of each month (materials available from Christian Aid: and from Tearfund:
  • 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 Steaddownload as pdf.

Missed this gathering? There will also be a similar gathering on Thursday 9th October 2014 with the Bishop of Buckingham in Aylesbury.

Earthing Faith Gathering – 27 Feb 2014

Developing an eco-friendly parish: a resource evening for churches in Oxfordshire

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.

EF_Oxf_gathering_327The Oxford gathering took place on Thursday 27th February at New Road Baptist Church, and included an introduction by the Bishop of Oxford, which was followed by showcasing of resources churches have found useful and examples of how they are approaching environment issues. We heard about:

  • Running an “Earthing Faith Year” at Holy Trinity, Headington Quarry (Rev Tim Stead).
  • Resources for parishes from A Rocha (Chris Parkman)
  • Christian Aid’s Climate Justice campaign and how parishes can get involved (Jess Hall)
  • An update on the Food Matters project and how to use the seasonal resource guides this year (Maranda St John Nicolle)
  • Plans to make St.Clements Church, E Oxford, more energy efficient and welcoming, as well as the Eco-congregation initiative (Clare Newgass)
  • Fossil Free Oxfordshire’s disinvestment campaign (Karl Wallendszus)

Slides from the above presentations are available below.

The gathering closed with an act of worship written (click here to download pdf of worship) and led by Rev Tess Ward and Susie Stead.


Missed this one? There will also be similar gatherings on Thursday 1st May 2014 with the Bishop of Reading at St Nicholas, Earley, Reading – and on Thursday 9th October 2014 with the Bishop of Buckingham in Aylesbury.

Earthing Faith Gathering – 10 Oct 2013


The Autumn 2013 Earthing Faith gathering will take place in Milton Keynes with a focus on food and sustainability. The gathering will link locally, reflecting on a theology of food, and focus globally by exploring diocesan link projects in South Africa and discussing the impact of the Enough Food for Everyone If campaign, as well as hearing from World Vision on environmental footprint issues.

There will be an opportunity to connect with the MK Justice and Peace Network, MK Christian Environment Group, the Well at Willen and World Vision, as well as buy fruit, veg and plants produced on the MK Christian Foundation Urb Farm project.

Guest speakers will include:

  • Rev Liz Baker from the Well at Willen
  • David Frost from World Vision
  • Maranda St John Nicolle Diocesan World Development Officer

Time: 7.30-9.30pm, Thursday 10 October 2013

Venue:Christ the Vine Community Church, Jonathans, Coffee Hall, Milton Keynes, MK6 5EG

Poster: contact us for printed versions or download here

Register your intention to join us by completing the form below:

Earthing Faith Gathering – 7.30pm on 6th June 2013

Earthing Faith Gathering - 6th June

The Earthing Faith gathering on 6th June, from 7.30pm until 9.30pm, will introduce the idea of ‘Forest Church’ and explore how we might nurture expressions of this way of being church in our local areas and hear from those already running such groups.

The ethos of Forest Church is a fresh expression in nature, and draws on contemporary research that highlights the benefits of spending time with nature in wild places.

Moments of wonder and awe are important sources of spiritual growth and they often occur in nature. The idea of Forest Church is to embrace this and provide spaces for us to connect and journey with God in nature. There are a number of Forest Church groups already meeting across the country and Bruce Stanley, who will be with us for the evening, has written a book called Forest Church: A Field Guide to Nature Connection For Groups and Individuals (details of book here).

Join us for the evening to explore, practice and discuss the ideas. Hear from others doing similar things. You might also want to discuss plans of how you might start your own Forest Church or incorporate into your church activities.

Venue: the evening will take place in Wytham Woods on the edge of Oxford and will be largely based outdoors.

Times: starting from 7.30pm until 9.30pm on Thursday, 6th June 2013

The evening is free of charge and open to anyone, but we do ask you to register using the form below – you will then be able to download the details for details of where to meet etc.

Please note: The evening activities will require walking in the woods and uneven surfaces so participants will need to be physically fit to walk in such terrain. Undercover facilities will mean the event will happen whatever the weather – so participants will need to dress appropriately for all weather conditions.

The evening will follow a daytime retreat day at Wytham Woods that costs £22 and is limited to 25 places – for more details and to book for the day click here.

Questions? Contact Matt Freer, Diocesan Environment Officer.

2013: A year of food – Food Matters

Food Matters is a new project from the Diocese of Oxford to help churches reconnect with the seasons, celebrate festivals, and explore global and local food related themes.

Food Matters starts with a launch event from 7.30pm on 24 January in Oxford when four exceptional people – Roy Lambourne (farmer and agricultural consultant); Mike Rayner (priest and public health expert); Ruth Valerio (theologian, author and activist); and Paul Valentin (international director of Christian Aid) will speak about “What Food Means to Me.”

Please do join us for this event – details and registration at:

We’re also asking people to share what food means to them as Christians. See what others have said and add your thoughts on the Food Matters website at:

Join the Food Matters mailing list to receive an email about the first Food Matters resource at the end of January called “Preparing the Ground” and focussed on winter. Three further resources will follow in the year –  ideas for celebrating festivals and with opportunities to reflect; to pray; to “grow your own”; to share local and global stories; and to take action for a fairer food system for all.

Find out more and join the Food Matters mailing list at


Earthing Faith Gathering – 8 November 2012

 What does it mean to care for the earth in our current climate?

An evening to explore theology and the environment with reflections from Margot Hodson and response from Mark Laynesmith.

  • Revd. Margot Hodson is author of Cherishing the Earth and Vicar of the benefice of Haddenham
  • Revd. Mark Laynesmith is the Anglican Chaplain at the University of Reading

When: 7-9pm, Thursday 8 November 2012

Venue: The Village Centre‎, High Street, Chinnor, Oxfordshire OX39 4DH – map


The recordings from the gathering are now available to download or listen to online using the player below:

Download: Mark Laynesmith – mp3
Download: Margot Hodson – mp3

Earthing Faith’s Cloudcasts on Mixcloud


Report from July Gathering in Reading

Last Thursday, amidst a deluge, the second Earthing Faith Gathering was held in Trinity Church, Reading. With so many different aspects of the environment which could be tackled, this meeting was constructed to focus on issues surrounding buildings and projects; a topic guaranteed to create interest and questions. We had four excellent speakers and plenty of time to get into the questions.

Demystifing the role of the DAC

The first was Natalie Merry – DAC Secretary based at Diocesan Church House. She answered many questions and demystified the role of the DAC (the Diocesan Advisory Committee who advise on physical changes to church buildings and churchyards) and was refreshingly realistic and extremely encouraging to all churches who wished to reduce their carbon footprint and investigate larger scale energy projects such as solar PV panels on the church roof.

Find out more: DAC | Churches and renewables resources

George going green

Next we heard from Tom Linley from St. George’s Church in Newbury who spoke about their work to put on 129 solar panels on the nave roof, along with roof insulation and secondary glazing. He spoke also spoke about fund raising and their next project to install a ground source heat pump.

Find out more: George Goes Green website

Greening St Johns

Joanna Laynesmith from St John and St Stephen church in reading spoke about their smaller scale projects to move a community and school towards environmental awareness, and it was great to hear the very human journey that a community must go on to make change real and lasting.

Find out more: Greening St Johns blog

Going green at Park United Reformed Church

Our final speaker was the Revd. Rob Weston, the leader at Park United Reform Church, also in Reading. He spoke about their fundraising and community ownership of a solar panel installation on the roof and a wood pellet boiler in their basement. There was a great deal of interest in the latter, as their church is one of the first in the country to install such technology. He also told us about their next project – a community orchard!

Find our more: Park United Reformed Church website

There was a great buzz in the room, with questions and conversations going on long after the speakers officially stopped.

Thank you to everyone who spoke and to Trinity Church and Richard Cocks for their hospitality and welcome.

The next Earthing Faith gathering will focus on theology and the environment. 7-9pm, Thursday 8th November 2012 at St Andrews, Chinnor (map) – you can register now.