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Devon's Living Churchyards

posted 8 May 2017, 08:54 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 27 Nov 2017, 03:40 by Websites Ahoy ]
More than 70 participants from churches across Devon met at Buckfast Abbey conference centre on 6th May to discuss how local churchyards can be improved for the benefit of wildlife and the wider community. Diocesan Environment Officer, Martyn Goss, encouraged those present to view their church land as opportunities, not millstones, and to explore how they may be points of re-connecting with nature, with history and with God.

Ecologist David Curry from Plymouth spoke of the tragic loss of biodiversity in recent years – disappearing birds and trees but how Christian conservation charity A Rocha (‘The Rock’) is working across the world to address this situation. One new campaign is ‘Eco Church’ – prompting congregations to sign up to actively care for God’s Creation, with Exeter registered as an Eco Diocese. David also welcomed reviving old Christian ceremonies such as Lammas and Plough Sunday.

Director of the Conservation Foundation, David Shreeve, pointed to the newly funded scheme to help heritage bodies to better manage bats and inspired all to plant and care for more trees on church land. He presented a sapling cut from an ancient yew to the parish of Chivelstone now to be planted in the southern-most part of Devon.

Revd. Colin Randall referred to an initiative to install bird boxes for the rapidly declining Spotted Flycatchers and handed these to participants for their own use.

Workshop leaders outlined other possibilities. Emily Stallworthy encouraged people to look at sympathetic planting to attract bees and butterflies in churchyards. Vix Hill enthused about edible plant species which can enhance cooking and salads. Helen Sands and Mark Bedford see the importance of re-introducing story-telling, including under historic yews and at lychgates. Terry Palmer talked about churchyards as Quiet Spaces and appreciating them as places for spiritual reflection, and even using labyrinths.

Meanwhile, Aaron Southgate, who is head gardener at Buckfast Abbey, led a guided walk around the grounds alongside the river Dart. He reminded us of the historic value of the site, which no longer uses chemicals, and offers a place for re-energising not only for the monks but for others too. The Abbey produces most of its electricity from renewable sources, including hydro power from the river.

The overall message of the day: look for opportunities to use the land around our churches to enhance Nature, to learn about our heritage, to celebrate community life and to express God’s glory.

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Websites Ahoy,
27 Nov 2017, 03:38
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Websites Ahoy,
27 Nov 2017, 03:38
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