News and Events


Devon Eco Church Gathering at Plymouth - Do Something Small - Be Part of Something Big!

posted 25 Oct 2018, 07:17 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 26 Oct 2018, 00:59 ]

About two dozen Christians from across Devon gathered at St. Edward’s church, Eggbuckland, Plymouth on 24th October to share stories and experiences in becoming an Eco Church and an Eco Diocese. This is a national award promoted through conservation charity A Rocha, with 38 churches already registered in Devon and with 11 having received a bronze or silver award.

Under 5 topics, congregations are encouraged to look at ways in which they use resources in order to better protect and preserve the integrity of God’s Creation. These include Worship and Teaching; Buildings and Land; Community and Global action; and Lifestyle. By logging on line (https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/) a local church is able to assess its achievements and impacts in these areas, and to look for new steps to take to reduce carbon and live more sustainably.

Amongst those attending were award winners Tavistock Methodist Church, Lee Abbey Fellowship and Plymouth Unitarian Church. St. Edward’s itself (Anglican) has a Silver award and specialises in caring for its churchyard with a bug hotel, bee hives, careful grassland maintenance and ancient trees.

As well as other achievements, Belmont Chapel in Exeter has installed solar PV panels and has a well-insulated building. Other churches have switched to 100% green energy tariffs or undertaken energy conservation and efficiency measures. At least 9 churches have composting toilets, dozens are committed to Fairtrade and some clergy have changed to electric bikes or cars.

Participant Sarah Cracknell from Brixham said, “The Devon Eco-Church Gathering was a wonderful chance to meet with others from a range of different churches and to hear the inspiring things they are doing to care for God’s creation. It was a great opportunity to share knowledge and experiences and to get some great ideas to take away and put into practice. One of the highlights of the day was the guided walk around St Edwards living churchyard in the glorious Autumn sunshine and to see and hear both the successes and challenges of balancing the needs of the wildlife and those visiting to mourn.”

Bishop of Plymouth, Nick Mckinnel, also participated in the day and commented, Doing something small – and being part of something big” was an appropriate theme as we explored what it means for Exeter to be an Eco-Diocese.  There were encouraging reports from across the churches of renewable energy sources, conservation measures, living churchyards and many small ways in which congregations are responding to the challenges of climate change as we remember that “the earth is the Lord’s, and all that therein is”.

David Curry, Diocesan Environment Adviser, reminded people of the need to think longer-term in leaving a positive legacy for our children’s children, which includes planting native trees, orchards and hedgerows for the future. “This must be a vital part of our Christian ministry today, not an add-on!”


Passion, Power and Perseverance at Deer Park Farm

posted 22 Oct 2018, 03:44 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 25 Oct 2018, 00:59 ]

On 21st
 October 2018 a small group from diverse faith traditions visited this household farm which Fuad al Tawil and Helen Chessum have turned into a low energy and resilient home over the past twenty years.

By producing their own heat through solar-thermal panels and a 95% efficient log burner, through on and off grid solar electricity with batteries, and through a variety of energy conservation measures their home has become a beacon and demonstration in this tucked away South Devon valley.

In addition, they have planted over 3,000 trees, several kilometres of native hedgerows and are pioneer members of the Teign Energy Communities (TECs). So wildlife conservation is another dimension to their remarkable lifestyle. They also maintain beehives to produce their own honey, as well as home-made grape juice and ciders.

Our shared lunch included rescued food soup and local fruits brought by participants.

Theirs is a hugely inspirational initiative about which we shared reflections on the ‘Power of God’ from our distinct faiths, recognising the Living Spirit which permeates all life and sustains us across the globe and across the generations.

This was the 9th event run by the Devon Earth and Faith Network (DEFAN) supported by Devon Churches Green Action and Devon Faith & Belief Forum


A Future with Hope (Jeremiah 29:11)

posted 15 Oct 2018, 00:39 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 17 Oct 2018, 06:40 ]

The 12th Assembly of ECEN met from 6-10 October 2018 under the heading ‘On the way to economic and ecological justice’ in Katowice (Poland), hosting 85 participants from 22 countries of Europe and overseas. Discussions of the Assembly were guided by the biblical words of the prophet Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” 

We gathered to share joy in God’s creation, to remind ourselves that everywhere it is under threat and that churches across Europe as well as in other parts of the world have a duty to care for creation; in worship, in action and in advocacy.  In discussion with colleagues from churches, academia and civil authorities in the region of Upper Silesia we learned about efforts to reduce air pollution and Green House Gas emissions; and to transform the economy from coal mining to more sustainable energy production.   

The focus of the Assembly discussions was the relationship between economy and ecology; ways to achieve a just distribution of available resources while respecting the principles of economic and ecological justice.  The Assembly offered an opportunity to celebrate the 20th anniversary of ECEN. Twenty years after ECEN met for the first time we can witness in Europe growing movements of green churches, eco-churches and eco-congregations. In worship, practical action and advocacy for climate justice and a sustainable future faith communities reflect the message: It is our responsibility and duty to care for creation. We celebrate this success and encourage all churches to join this movement. What is the challenge? 

In twenty years there have been momentous changes in our use of natural resources.  In the past twenty years we have seen the loss of biodiversity and habitats across the world to the extent that scientists talk of a new ‘mass extinction’. Massive deforestation contributes to climate change and humanity has added greenhouse gases to the atmosphere at an alarming rate, particularly though burning fossil fuels. As a result, the climate is changing; we know this beyond doubt.    

As we met in Katowice the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the report Global Warming of 1.5 C setting out what would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5 C and the impacts of failing to do so. Limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require rapid, far reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. To avoid dangerous climate change and to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals a fundamental shift must start today.

In another twenty years, if we have not taken effective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions global warming will not only exceed 1.5 C but also 2 C. This will happen if the parties of the Paris agreement do not show higher ambition than is evident today.  We are now informed and we have no excuses! Also as people of faith we have a moral obligation to put the most vulnerable first in our calling to heal the earth. The theme of the ECEN Assembly is “To give you a future with hope”. It is not an option to ignore the science nor to become paralyzed by fear.  From our faith derives hope; A hope that is not a naïve or wishful. Why do we do this? We want a future with hope. Science can tell us what is happening; faith tells us why we must respond. To give life on earth a future with hope we must act now. In John chapter 6:1-11 we learn of the feeding of the five thousand and of the importance of sharing.  It is a vulnerable child who brings loaves and fish. The act of sharing that comes from the child and is an inspiration and a path for us to follow. Sharing not greed is the way to climate justice.

Individually and collectively we must reduce our environmental impact and in particular our carbon footprints. The exploitative economy and lifestyle we know and enjoy are not sustainable. Structures and patterns of consumption and production must change very rapidly to a low carbon economy with a more just distribution of resources.  

  • We call governments and political decision makers to take situation seriously and act accordingly: to commit to reducing GHG emissions to align with the scientific data in the IPCC report.
  • Work for sustainable future and adequate mechanisms to support the most vulnerable. No excuse is acceptable. 
  • In anticipation of the forthcoming UN climate conference (COP 24) in Katowice we call for a visible and determined action plans from all governments.  

We call churches and faith communities: 

  • To initiate and sustain a broad dialogue among churches and in wider society on the necessary changes to bring about a more sustainable and equitable lifestyle; to respect Creation, promote a just transition to a low carbon economy and act for intergenerational justice.
  • To support, encourage and mainstream environmental initiatives in faith communities and churches to respond to ecological challenges.
  • To build a new narrative of hope that addresses the seriousness of the situation but also promises a vision of more just and sustainable future.
  • To develop theological and liturgical resources on care for creation; including Season of Creation into liturgical calendars and sharing celebration of it in an open ecumenical spirit.

 The ECEN Assembly message can be downloaded here.

New IPCC report does not hold its punches

posted 10 Oct 2018, 01:51 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 10 Oct 2018, 02:02 ]

In the Anglican Communion the 5th Mark of Mission calls us to ‘strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the use of the earth’.

This week’s report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that the planet would reach the crucial 1.5C warming as early as 2030 under current greenhouse gas emission levels: risking wildfires, extreme droughts, floods, and serious famine.  Nothing new in this but it’s a sobering call for more radical and urgent action to be taken.

As a small step to addressing this challenge, the Diocese of Exeter has a 10 year strategy to reduce its carbon footprint and as it aspires to become an Eco Diocese.

In cooperation with other partners, including Ecotricity and the Devon Association for Renewable Energy (DARE), it has been taking action to cut excessive energy use and consumption, and to promote less-damaging sources of power, heat and food.  We also work with our Link Dioceses to address climate injustice in their countries as well as in the UK. 

Five particular areas of ministry are highlighted for further action:

                            Procurement       (changing where our supplies come from, including

Fairtrade produce)


Buildings and Land  (conserving and improving their energy use, and          developing new energy sources)


Travel and Transport        (sharing journeys, reducing mileage,

                                                electric vehicles, green driving, etc.)

 

Lifestyle                               (campaigning and living more simply and

                                                sustainably  at home, at church and in

                                                community – including Eco Church)

 

Theology and Prayer        (revisiting our worship and understanding

                                                to better appreciate God as Creator of all life)

 

10 year strategy can be viewed at this link

A summary of the IPCC report can be accessed here.

Tackling Plastics in Church

posted 20 Sep 2018, 05:34 by Martyn Goss

PLYMOUTH CHURCHES GREEN ACTION

PLASTIC FREE PLYMOUTH WORKSHOP SATURDAY 15TH SEPTEMBER

David Curry, Exeter Diocese Environmental Advisor

Organisations across Plymouth are working together to tackle the issue of single use plastics and plastic pollution.

As Britain’s Ocean City we are only too aware of the effects of plastic pollution and want to do all we can to reduce the amount of waste and the devastating effect it can have on our environment.

In June this year Plymouth became the first city district to gain Plastic Free Community accreditation from campaign group Surfers Against Sewage and we are now working hard to achieve the same status for churches in the city.

As part of Season of Creation 2018 we held a workshop on the 15th September to look at why plastic is such a problem, what can be done about it and how individuals and churches can take part in the campaign.

Jackie Young, Environment Plymouth gave a talk on Plymouth’s Plan for Plastics and how we as individuals and churches can take part in this important campaign to reduce the amount of single use plastic used in the city and sign Plymouth’s Plastic Free Pledge 

We need to help turn the tide and reduce our dependency on single-use plastic.

We want to see Plymouth Sound teeming with living things, not with our rubbish.

Plymouth Churches Green Action support Plymouth’s Plan for Plastics. Will you?

There are lots of things you can do to help your local environment and help to tackle the scourge of single use plastics;-

As a starting point

Look at the ways of reducing your reliance on single-use plastics in the church kitchen like straws, disposable cups and plastic cutlery.

Buy a reuseable cup

You could buy one of the new One Plymouth / Britain’s Ocean City branded reuseable cups. These are available from a range of outlets in Plymouth or you can buy one on the One Plymouth website.

Take part in a litter pick

You could volunteer to do a litter pick in your local park or other green space. Visit  Plymouth City Council’s Volunteer with Nature web page for more information.

Do a beach clean

The National Marine Aquarium organise a number of beach cleans throughout the year and you can find out more on the National Marine Aquarium website.

Recycle all you can

In Plymouth, most hard plastic items – such as milk bottles, plastic food punnets, and a lot of plastic packaging – can be recycled. Research by WRAP has found that more than 50 per cent of bathroom items –such as shampoo and shower gel bottles – are thrown in the bin when they could in fact be recycled.

Think about the plastics you use at home and in your church and see what you can do to reduce it.

Further information:

david.curry@arocha.org

Jyoung.urbanagenda@gmail.com

www.plymouth.gov.uk/environmentandpollution/plastics

http://www.arocha.org/en/work/scientific-research/marine-coastal/microplastics-toolbox/

   http://www.arocha.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/3_int_rgb_b.png

Buzzing Churchyards

posted 18 Sep 2018, 01:02 by Martyn Goss

As part of the Devon Living Churchyard’s project, Exeter Eco Diocese is running a series of workshops on developing these pockets of church land as a key part of our ministry. 

Last week at Buckfast, Clare Densley from the Buckfast Abbey Beekeeping Department, talked about the huge benefit of encouraging bees in churchyards – including the siting of hives in appropriately hidden areas. Bees are such amazing creatures and play such an important role in the ecology of most landscapes in Britain.

Martin Hann, Devon Bee Inspector, estimated that there are well over 1,000 bee keepers across the county, including in many urban areas as well as villages. Churches could provide a location for hives, even if others were to look after the bees.

Will Pyne, from St. Andrew’s, South Tawton, spoke of the wider interest generated in the community, as well as the income produced by the sale of honey!  Other participants are now hoping to introduce bee hives in their own churchyards. 

 If you or your church would be interested in finding out more or inviting a speaker, please contact David Curry, Diocesan Environment Adviser (david.curry@arocha.org)  01392-294940

Devon Eco Church Gathering, Autumn 2018

posted 9 Aug 2018, 02:07 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 9 Aug 2018, 02:11 ]

On 24th October 2018 there will be an ecumenical Eco-Church Gathering in Plymouth with Bishop Nick McKinnel for all interested or engaged in developing as an Eco Church in Devon.

We hope the day will enable the sharing of stories of good ideas and practice, hopes and challenges, and practical steps to better care for God's whole Creation.

Please see details on the poster below.

Untitled

posted 9 Aug 2018, 01:52 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 22 Oct 2018, 03:42 ]



 

Creating a Buzz in Devon's Churchyards

posted 3 Aug 2018, 03:17 by Martyn Goss

For those interested or involved in looking after bees here is an engaging morning event in September at Buckfast Abbey.

At a time of significant threat to our bee populations it is important to see how we can practically re-use our church resources to benefit nature and God’s wider Creation.

Some Devon churchyards already have beehives. Some have natural bees nests. Others encourage bees to visit through their planting schemes. Do you want to take action too?

Details on the poster attached.

Lammas Day - 1st August

posted 23 Jul 2018, 01:24 by Martyn Goss

In the Christian calendar it was one of the most important days of the year although sadly it is longer as well-known as it once was.

 

Lammas is a fine time for anyone who loves real bread to thank God for the food he gives us and celebrate the natural and seasonal heritage of our buns, baps and bloomers.

 

Attached is a set of notes compiled by David Curry for celebrating Lammas in your church/cell group.

 

Celebrate God's wonderful creation and provision and enjoy with your brothers and sisters in Christ!

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