News and Events

Foraging, Forests and Faith

posted 23 Feb 2018, 02:24 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 23 Feb 2018, 02:24 ]

Devon Earth and Faith Network (DEFAN) is organising its next event as a visit to the Forest Garden at Dartington, South Devon. on Sunday 29th April, 10.30a.m. – 4.00p.m.

This interfaith day will consist of some walks around the Forest Garden, Pollinators Sanctuary and other sites in the area.  We will include discussion on the benefits of woodland  and local wildlife. There will also be an opportunity for some foraging and exploring native plant species.

Please bring with you lunch to share, and any appropriate reflections, stories and prayers about plants and animals from your own community traditions.

Shared transport will be arranged from Exeter on request.

All traditions or none are welcome! Please see poster attached.

Please book in advance:  01392-294940

Exeter Eco Diocese

posted 14 Feb 2018, 02:13 by Martyn Goss

The Diocese of Exeter is very committed to the national Church of England’s Environment  (formerly ‘Shrinking the Footprint Campaign’) for a low carbon future, including support for Fairtrade and using local growers and suppliers.

For those of us who aspire to be Christians Lent is a special time to try to live carefully, kindly and counter-culturally - especially with regard to the world around us. In so doing we can enhance our spiritual awareness and deepen our relationship with God. 

Lent encourages us to let go of that which entraps us and thereby freeing us to discover new parts of ourselves. So it’s a great opportunity to explore our lifestyle – on our own or with others.

This year the Diocese of Exeter is launching a voluntary Eco Plan for its staff, to encourage us to think and act more sensitively in relation to the whole of Creation. This is particularly important at a time that our human lifestyles are damaging the processes that sustain life leading to death and destruction for the most vulnerable communities and countries around the world.

This optional Eco Plan helps people to think about their lifestyle and further action they might take to reduce their impacts on the wider environment.


Plan for a Plastic Free Lent!

posted 12 Feb 2018, 02:38 by Martyn Goss

For Christians Lent is the time when we remember the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, facing challenge and temptation. It is a time when we reflect on God’s purpose for our life.

This year we challenge you to give up single-use plastics – to reduce the actions which damage God’s Creation. Over 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since the 1950s. That’s enough plastic to cover every inch of the UK ankle-deep more than ten times over. Just 9% was recycled.

‘To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth’ is the Anglican Communion’s Fifth Mark of Mission. For actions and reflections see the attached below.

Share your journey with others on the Plastic-Less Lent Facebook Group



New Year Comment 2018

posted 26 Jan 2018, 01:25 by Martyn Goss

I’ve been an environmental activator and activist for over 40 years and have passionately campaigned on many issues including climate change, transport, food and energy. With others, I set up a student Eco-action recycling scheme in London as long ago as the early 1970s, and became absorbed in the political discussions around ‘Small is Beautiful’, ‘Enough is Enough’, the Brandt and Brundtland reports, and more. Reading Silent Spring propelled thousands of us to think and act as if the planet was precious and that future generations mattered.

Much of my thinking developed from my personal convictions around a God that forms and shapes life through natural scientific processes, and which transcend conventional faith structures. I became convinced that the anthropocentric approach to life, especially that of the Christian Church, was at best misleading and at worst encouraging of the manipulation of Nature for short term greed. It is easy for churches to forget that the God we believe in is imbedded in and through the Earth.

Since those days, it has become abundantly clear to me that the economic model of global capitalism which places financial profit before all else is intrinsically incompatible with the biblical view of justice for a more equitable and sustainable sharing of the globe’s resources. The appropriation of land, power and wealth in the hands of the few contradicts the vision of wholesome society which provides for the needs of all. It undermines that scriptural image of all families and communities having access to their own provision and sustenance (e.g. sitting under their vines and fig trees) and reinforces the notion that we are to be ruled by political elites.

If the economy does not bring about wholeness, health and happiness for humanity and also protect the diversity of all planetary life, it needs to be challenged and changed. And faith systems have a critical role to play in suggesting alternatives – whether to the ways we measure progress (not GDP/GNP) or the ways we trade with one another (fairer and more accountable) or the ways we build relationships of trust and hope (not cynicism, apathy or division).

In the face of all this, I have to say the Government’s new 25 Year Environment Plan (A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment*), is extremely disappointing. In spite of some rhetoric about interdependency, it does not seem to offer much joined up thinking, no legal framework for implementation, sparse public funding and little sense of urgency. 

There is little mention of energy, transport or buildings – key sectors systematically damaging life. In this its superficiality beggars belief. We cannot wait 25 years to remove plastics and chemicals from ecosystems. That is to condemn children to a toxic future by already taking away their health rights.

 In medical terms, one doesn’t get rid of today’s headache by taking an aspirin next week. To remove the ache means tackling its causes from yesterday and into the future.

The Environment Secretary’s acknowledgement (for example at the Oxford Farming Conference) that we cannot cut off the tree branch we are sitting on is to be welcomed. Natural capital is essential for any economy but will politicians deliver the more radical approach to energy, food and land-use that a deeper green agenda implies?

The scale and speed of the ecological dangers we face are unprecedented: loss of species, habitat, air pollution, global climate uncertainties, water and land contamination. These are all already claiming the lives and livelihoods of millions. Recycling glass and taxing plastic bags are all well and good but are not going to take us back from the precipice of a collapsing civilisation that we are likely hurtling towards.

The UK Government’s more laid back approach contrasts distinctly with the work of those looking at Planetary Boundaries who recognise that climate change, loss of biodiversity, land-system changes and altered natural cycles have pushed us into a new state of imbalance. In addition, ozone depletion, ocean acidification, freshwater use, and chemical intrusion all contribute to living in an increasingly difficult world.

We surely need more insightful and less superficial approaches to the planet we live on. Let’s rediscover the wisdom of our elders, the holistic lessons of cooperating for the common good and the pulling together to recreate communities that care for one another and the world whose web holds us all.

2018 will hold tensions for us. However, we might use the energy that those tensions produce to move forward in faithfully bringing about a more just, loving and peaceful world - in spite of all the odds and apparent contradictions.

Martyn Goss 

*for Government 25 year environment plan see:

Faith in Food – Inter-Faith Farm Visit

posted 6 Nov 2017, 01:36 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 24 Jan 2018, 06:51 ]

On 5th November twenty five of us from different faith traditions paid a farm visit to Shillingford Organics near Exeter. We were from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities spending a day together to prepare and share a meal, as well as looking at the farm and engaging in discussions about food.

The lunch consisted of local grown vegetables and fruits which we turned into soup, salads and drinks. Earlier, farmer Martyn Bragg guided us on a tour and spoke of some of the challenges facing independent organic farmers in a market dominated by subsidised global corporations.

Our discussion included how sharing food can bring people together and build relationships of trust. We conversed about food security and unhealthy diets prompting obesity and diabetes – contrasting with a theology of enough and our practices around fasting. We also talked about reducing food surpluses, hospitality and the importance of celebrating festivals and feasts.

The event was a timely reminder of how we can re-connect with one another and the Earth through food and eating, recognising the gifts and responsibilities God holds before us.

Celtic Connexion - God's Good Earth

posted 6 Oct 2017, 06:31 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 27 Nov 2017, 03:22 by Websites Ahoy ]

Revd. Simon Taylor led a special DCGA service on 'Soil' at South Street Baptist Church in Exeter on Thursday 5th October. A copy of the order of worship is available below.

Exeter Green Fair

posted 3 Sep 2017, 22:50 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 27 Nov 2017, 03:24 by Websites Ahoy ]

 DCGA ran a successful stall on the theme of God's Good Earth at the Exeter Green Fair on 2nd September. There will also be an ecumenical service on Soil to mark the end of Season of Creation at South Street Baptist Church on Thursday 5th October at 6.30pm (see poster attached).

Inter-Faith Farm Visit

posted 22 Aug 2017, 06:45 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 27 Nov 2017, 03:29 by Websites Ahoy ]

Devon Earth and Faith Forum (DEFAN) are organising a day visit to Shillingford Organics on Sunday 5th November 2017.

The event will include planning, preparing and eating a meal together using ingredients from the farm. We shall also share some food blessings and reflections.

For bookings contact or ring 01392-294940. Poster is attached.

Creationtide 2107 - Inspiring Earth

posted 3 Jul 2017, 03:12 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 27 Nov 2017, 03:28 by Websites Ahoy ]

‘Creationtide’ or the ‘Season of Creation’ is the period in the annual church calendar (from 1st September to 4th October) dedicated to God as Creator and Sustainer of all life. As Christians, we acknowledge that the environment is our common home, and we need to tread more gently on the earth and care for our shared planet. This is a special time for us to recall our relationship with the Earth and the Holy.

This year in Creationtide, EcoChurch Southwest, which is a partnership of Anglican dioceses in the region, will be encouraging church members to sign up to receive daily resources for celebration, reflection and action.

Under the theme ‘Inspiring Earth’, participants will be sent a message every day with a biblical passage, prayer or reflection, questions and local stories of 'Creation Care'. These will include short videos and suggestions for reducing our human impact on the wider world.

‘Inspiring Earth’ is open to all who are concerned with protecting the plant, the poor and the future and who wish to demonstrate God’s love at a time of ecological crisis. It is supported by Church of England bishops in the region, including +Nick Holtam (Bishop of Salisbury) who said, “Celebrating Creationtide marks a shift in the Christian understanding of our relationship to creation under God. ‘Inspiring Earth’ offers sustenance to enthuse us in our ministry for the whole inhabited world.“

To receive the daily e-mailings please sign up on the EcoChurch Southwest website.

Exeter Eco Diocese - World Environment Day

posted 5 Jun 2017, 00:58 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 27 Nov 2017, 05:59 by Websites Ahoy ]

Eco Church is Christian conservation organisation A Rocha's award scheme for churches in England and Wales, who want to demonstrate that the gospel is good news for God’s earth.

Eco Diocese is an initiative to encourage diocesan-level engagement with Eco Church, and promote local church participation in the scheme. They are both part of an important new drive to promote greater ecological awareness and action with local churches.

Following the latest discussion at its Synod, Exeter is now registered as an Eco-Diocese and invites all Mission Communities and parishes to sign up to become Eco Churches. There are already 14 such initiatives in Devon, including St. Edward's at Eggbuckland in Plymouth.

Devon Eco Church is open to all Christian denominations, and others already signed up include Belmont Chapel at Exeter, Tavistock Methodist Church, Lee Abbey and Glenorchy URC in Exmouth.

A free online survey and supporting resources are designed to equip churches to express your care for God’s world in their worship and teaching; in how they look after their buildings and land; in how they engage with their local community and in global campaigns, and in the personal lifestyles of their congregations.The actions taken will count towards a prestigious Eco Church Award at Bronze, Silver or Gold level.

Complete the Eco Survey on A Rocha's website to gauge where your church currently is in relation to the three different levels; you may find you already qualify for an Eco Church Award!

The A Rocha vision is for churches of all denominations to care for Creation as an integral part of loving their neighbours and following God faithfully. Help bring that vision to reality by participating in Eco Church where you are...

For further details check the A Rocha website or contact Martyn Goss, Diocesan Environment Officer: 01392-294940

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