News and Events

May-June News and Activities

posted 22 May 2018, 06:43 by Martyn Goss

1. Attached is an outline for a Rogationtide service from Canon Brian Davis. If it is too late for 2018 you might like to store for next year for marking the beginning of the Spring planting time.

2. Church Times Green Health Awards. The Church Times has launched new award scheme in National Gardening Week to encourage churches to use their green spaces to help communities benefit from improved mental and physical wellbeing. This is hoped specially to promote links between nature and human health.

The awards are open to all churches and other Christian organisations in the UK and the deadline for applications is 31 July 2018. The make-up of the judging panel, and details of the Green Health Live conference will be published shortly. For more information, and an entry form, visit:

3. Devon Development Education has launched its summer programme from May to July. Please see attached.

4. Cherishing Our Churchyards week takes place from 9th-17th June. This is a chance to recognise and celebrate the natural and historical richness they contain. See details attached from David Curry.

The Devon Living Churchyards project now has a new standing display which will be used initially at the Buckfast Abbey Millennium Fair on 1st June. (photo enclosed)

If you would like to borrow this for your own future event please contact David by email:

As part of this work a target workshop on bees and beehives in churchyards will be held on 15th September (see poster attached). Places are limited and booking essential.

5. Plymouth Green Book Club will be reading Richard Mabey’s book ‘Cabaret of Plants’ on 12th June at 6.30pm in the University’s Babbage Building (see attached)

6. Double Elephant is offering a free print animation workshop on Saturday 7th July 2018. Two sessions:10am - 12.30pm or 1.30– 4pm, at Top Studio, Exeter Phoenix Centre. Be a part of a new project helping Climate Scientists to tell their and your climate stories in innovative ways… (attached)

7. Devon’s Orchards are particularly affected by temperature change and over the past 60 years Devon’s mean temperature has increased by 20 C giving us a climate similar to that of mid-west France.

Apples and pears are flowering 4 to 6 weeks earlier than they were 20 years ago and in the south of the country pears are getting easier to grow and ripen. Likewise, warmer climate apples such as Braeburn and Gala can now be grown.

Check the planner on the Orchard Network's web site and see what jobs you could be doing in the orchard now.

8. ReGen (formerly ReGenSW) has just published a report on the ‘Devon Community Energy Impact Report’ and it has plenty of useful data demonstrating the added value of locally owned, grassroots energy activity. This includes churches participating in community energy schemes with their finance, buildings and volunteers.

The generation of 17,431 MWh of clean, green and community-owned energy, which can power 3,423 homes a year, and has saved 6,080 tonnes of CO2 emissions, are great achievements. But the thing that has stuck with me about this report is the story behind it, the ordinary people involved in community energy who mostly volunteer their time to install renewables and to tackle fuel poverty. Th
ey are taking direct action to run successful community businesses, motivated by climate change and social injustice, rather than profit for profit’s sake. The 23 community energy organisations in this report have supported 2,717 homes to save money on energy bills and use energy more efficiently, some of them track the impacts of their work on people’s quality of life and have found that community energy makes people happier. See details:
by clicking here

9. Exeter Eco Diocese continues to develop slowly and a gathering with Bishop Nick McKinnell to progress Eco Churches in Devon will be held at St. Edward’s, Eggbuckland, Plymouth on 24th October (poster attached).

EcoChurch SouthWest will be mailing readings and reflections during the Season of Creation/Creationtide again in 2018. Details will be posted on their website here in the coming months.

10. Devon Churches Rural Forum conference on the theme of Re-imagining Rural Ministry takes place at Cullompton Community Centre on 28th July. Details are on the poster enclosed.

Cherishing our Churchyards

posted 22 May 2018, 06:37 by Martyn Goss

Saturday 9th June – Sun 17th June 2018

Are you interested in celebrating your local churchyard or burial ground? Then join us for a special week to celebrate churchyards and burial grounds and to raise awareness of the treasures they contain.

Devon’s churchyards are special places:

·                   They often contain a rich diversity of plant and animal life.

·                   They are important places for archaeology and history.

·                   They often have distinctive and veteran trees.

·                      The stonework and boundary walls provide a home for a mosaic of   mosses, ferns and lichens.

·                    They provide a tranquil place for quiet reflection.

·                     They are a resource for inspiration and community learning.

Churchyards are often within walking distance of local communities and can provide a focus for community involvement.

Examples of activities include:

For families: A quiz, a treasure hunt, a mini beast safari, tree bingo, letter or leaf rubbing, making gargoyles out of clay…

Open days: guided tours, slide talks, tower tours...

Volunteer activities: making compost areas, scything the grass, repairing the boundary walls, memorial recording, bramble clearing, nest box making, path clearing…

Workshops: plant identification, animal identification, dawn chorus, geology, tree care, archaeology, creative writing, art.

Please visit “Caring for God’s Acre” website on Conservation Advice/Advice Sheets for Download if you feel the following information may be useful:

·         Activities for Young People

·         Attracting Volunteers

·         Health & Safety Information

·         Cherishing Churchyard Logo

If you would like to register your event as part of National Cherishing Churchyards week, please contact David Curry Email:


April news and activities

posted 6 Apr 2018, 02:36 by Martyn Goss

1. ‘The Good Immigrant’ is the book under discussion at Global Book Club Plymouth at 7.00pm on Wednesday 11th April. See details attached.

2. Storing Renewable Energy in Homes and Communities. Thursday 12th April 4.30pm at the Bateman Lecture Theatre, University of Exeter. Click here for further details and to book a place (also attached)

3. Plymouth Green Book Club will be looking at Miriam Darlington’s OWL SENSE at the Babbage Building, Plymouth University on 26th April. 6.30pm (see attached)

4. DEFAN (Devon Earth and Faith Network) are organising an inter-faith visit to the Forest Garden and other appropriate venues at Dartington, south Devon on Sunday 29th April, under the theme of ‘Foraging, Forests and Faiths’. See poster enclosed for booking and other details.

5. Cornwall Climate Vision environment day was held at Truro Methodist Church on 12th March. Please see here for talks and other resources.

6. A Rocha has launched a Microplastics Toolbox to help us act against microplastics in our local community- whether we are acting as an individual, a family, a church or any other group. This contributes to global efforts to fight plastic pollution in the oceans under the Sustainable Development Goal 14. Please click here

Also Revd. David Ireson’s talk at Exmouth’s Hard Questions Café ‘Why all the fuss about Plastic?’ is attached.

7. Earth to Earth – a natural history of churchyards by Stefan Buczacki. From the earliest pagan sites to modern urban cemeteries, burial grounds have always enjoyed a sacred, protected status in the history of society. Consequently they have become tranquil oases in which wildlife can flourish – a microcosm of the natural habitat long since disappeared from the surrounding area.

In this new book, Professor Buczacki uncovers the wild animals and plants that thrive amongst the headstones, from the graveyard beetle to the mighty yew. He also explores the history of churchyards and the landscape, as well as what can be done to conserve them for future generations. Accompanied by specially commissioned illustrations by Felicity Price-Smith and selected quotations, this beautiful gift book reveals the natural secrets to be found in God’s Acre.

8. Please see a short Easter Prayer with reference to integrity and wholeness attached

9. In Devon there are an estimated 180 churches and church properties which are on a 100% renewable energy tariff, and a new deal from Ecotricity is hoped to be agreed in the coming weeks which will hopefully increase this. Meanwhile, the Big Church Switch news attached gives an encouraging picture of the national situation as we move towards a low carbon society.

10.             Final quote:

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”

(Stephen Hawking)

Christians in Science Conference 2017

posted 4 Apr 2018, 01:20 by Martyn Goss

The audio recordings and slides from talks at last September's Plymouth conference Science: Exploring God's Creation are now on the ISS website.

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.

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