In an innovation in co-operation, the six Anglican Dioceses of the South West have launched a new website to highlight green churches in the region. The Dioceses of Bath and Wells, Bristol, Exeter, Gloucester, Salisbury and Truro recently shared in running a Lent Carbon Fast together. To follow this up www.ecochurchsouthwest.org.uk will offer a range of resources to further encourage positive action for Christians in addressing climate change and environmental damage.
The website includes maps, case studies, worship material, examples of green projects and ideas for future action. These include composting toilets, Fairtrade churches, Eco-congregations and church buildings with solar panels.
The website is part of the national Church of England’s campaign of “Shrinking the Footprint” and links to other work promoting global climate justice.
This will now replace this existing Exeter Shrinking the Footprint website...
Initiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, bishops are encouraged this week to pray for and visit community projects which address growing poverty in Britain.
As a response to this the Bishop of Crediton, Rt. Revd. Nick McKinnel, and Chair of the Methodist District, Revd. Pete Pillinger, visited the Exeter hub of the Devon and Cornwall Food Association (DCFA) on 7th April.
They met with volunteers and steering group members, as well as new Administrator, Rory Matthews, and heard how this food rescue project has saved over 3,500 kilos of good food so far this year, worth almost £10,000 to local charities including schools, hostels, soup kitchens and hospices.
Later this week the 4 Archdeacons in the Diocese will be visiting Food Banks in Tiverton, Bideford and Plymouth. Although hopefully not a permanent part of Britain’s social landscape, these mark community responses to increasing numbers of people scandalously unable to access food in our country today.
DCFA runs another hub in Plymouth, also to prevent good quality food from being destroyed and re-distributing it to local community organisations in and around the city. The wasting of food at different points of the food chain is one of the factors prompting poverty and malnutrition in Devon.
You are now invited to register for the SW Churches Lent Carbon Fast. This can be done on line at http://www.thecarbonfast.org/ by e.mail firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone 01392 294940. For further details see also the new Carbon Fast website as above.
Those registering will receive further information in the coming weeks with a particular focus on daily actions for individuals and households.
Actions for schools will also be available on request.
Philippines lead negotiator Yeb Sano has just addressed the opening session of the UN climate summit in Warsaw – calling for urgent action to prevent a repeat of the devastating storm that hit parts of his country at the weekend. An extract from his speech is below.
To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of you armchair. I dare you to go to the islands of the Pacific, the islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian ocean and see the impacts of rising sea levels; to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Andes to see communities confronting glacial floods, to the Arctic where communities grapple with the fast dwindling polar ice caps, to the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon, and the Nile where lives and livelihoods are drowned, to the hills of Central America that confronts similar monstrous hurricanes, to the vast savannas of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce. Not to forget the massive hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard of North America. And if that is not enough, you may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now.
During his speech, Sano added an unscripted pledge to fast during the conference, until meaningful progress had been made. He said:
“In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days, in all due respect Mr. President, and I mean no disrespect for your kind hospitality, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”
For full script see: http://www.rtcc.org/2013/11/11/its-time-to-stop-this-madness-philippines-plea-at-un-climate-talks/#
The annual UN conference on climate change, COP19, is happening in Warsaw from 11th to the 22nd November. Christian Ecology Link is encouraging individuals and churches to pray for the negotiations over these two weeks, and particularly during the Sunday services on the 17th November.
Christian Ecology Link (CEL) suggests people use this prayer:
To you, O Lord, we lift up our souls;
In you we trust, O God.
Faithful, merciful, trusting God,
You have let us loose on your world with enough fossilised carbon to destroy it,
and with enough intelligence to know that we do so.
Forgive us, Lord, for we know what we do.
We pray for the COP19 UN negotiations happening in Warsaw at the moment.
Let short term business interests bow to science.
Let politics give way to justice.
Let economics step back and allow righteousness to prevail.
Speak to the hearts of every negotiator
that they may feel your love for your earth,
and your desire for every child of God to do their part
in liberating creation from its bondage to decay.
Show us your ways, O Lord,
teach us your paths;
guide us in your truth and teach us,
for you are God our Saviour,
and our hope is in you all day long.
part of its ‘Shrinking the Footprint’ campaign to reduce carbon
emissions, the Diocese is exploring a variety of new and efficient
heating systems for church buildings.
option amongst others is a re-usable, portable hot cushion which
enables churchgoers to stay warm and comfortable during services.
cushion contains a chemically-triggered re-heatable pad which remains
warm for up to 90 minutes and which can be held or sat on in a church
pew or seat. The pad is later boiled in water for five minutes for future use and can be re-heated hundreds of times.
are piloting the scheme in two locations – Broadclyst and Whiddon
Mission Comunity (North Dartmoor) for a three month period from 3rd November 2013 to 26th January 2014. In
this time parishioners will be encouraged to test the conclusions and,
if successful, the project may be rolled out across Devon.
using the cushions should be able to save energy and on their
electricity bills, with the materials being recyclable at their end of
Many church and civil society representatives have expressed
disappointment over the lack of vision and ambition in the outcomes of
the Rio+20 summit, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012. Yet the affirmation of the human right to water and sanitation is
one aspect among others in the results that the future work of the
ecumenical movement for sustainability and eco-justice can build on.
“The outcome document of Rio+20 does not reflect the urgency of
threats to life on earth as presented by the scientific community,”
noted Dr Guillermo Kerber, the WCC programme executive on Care for Creation and Climate Justice when the summit in Rio de Janeiro had concluded.
“The international community, having been unable to reach a
consensus, opted for the lowest common denominator, avoiding any
controversial issues. As a result, the earth loses, and the poor and
vulnerable lose,” added Kerber on why religious actors widely refused to
accept the final document of Rio+20 as an effective instrument of
Yet, while affected by the general disappointment over the lack of
vision and ambition in the outcomes of the Rio+20 United Nations
Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), ecumenical partners
agreed that some positive aspects could be found among the results of
the summit that could be helpful in the future work for sustainable
These aspects include the much debated inclusion of not only the human right to water and sanitation for which the WCC’s Ecumenical Water Network had spoken up, but also other key human rights principles.
“In the original 1992 Rio conference outcome, human rights were
entirely lacking”, recalled Peter Prove, executive director of the
Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA). “But this time the text is full of
rights language, covering the rights to food, to health – including
sexual and reproductive health, to water and sanitation, to education,
to social security, labour rights and the right to development.”
“The outcome on food and agriculture issues was generally better than
feared,” added Christine Campeau, the EAA Food Campaign Coordinator.
She said that “explicit commitments concerning smallholder farmers,
traditional seed supply systems, empowering rural women, addressing food
price volatility, increased investment in sustainable agriculture and
reducing post-harvest losses and food waste, as well as affirmations of
the human right to food and of the role of the Committee on World Food
Security - it gives us something to work with.”
“Though far from being the mine of inspiration and leverage we
advocated and hoped for, there are a few ‘nuggets’ to be found when we
carefully sift through the results of the summit,” agrees Isaiah
Kipyegon from the ACT Alliance. “The establishment of a process to
develop Sustainable Development Goals to replace the Millennium
Development Goals after 2015, as well as the voluntary sustainability
reporting for companies are important opportunities for the ecumenical
family to engage with further.”
“There are some solid - nothing inspirational - but some solid
processes, some solid decisions at Rio that we will definitely (…) be
working on moving forwards,” confirms Dr Alison Doig, Christian Aid's
senior advisor on Sustainable Development. As an example she referred to
the UK government’s decision on making it mandatory for large companies
to publish their carbon emissions.
Looking beyond the inter-governmental processes, many also felt
encouraged and energized by the vibrancy of civil society initiatives
that showed in the People’s Summit which ran parallel to the UNCSD
“After these days of fighting next to amazing people, I am a
different person,” reflected Bia Pitrofski, a participant in
“Criatitude,” an educational project that encourages Lutherans and
others in Latin America to use “creative attitudes” in promoting
sustainability and eco-justice. “I have hope in a better world, a new
world, and in living in harmony as a society and as a part of creation. I
see that there is a young generation of protagonists, and we are an
example of that.”
Notes from World Council of Churches
On 17th & 18th October, Diocesan Environment Officers (DEOs) from 26 dioceses came together for the annual National Conference at High Leigh, Hertfordshire. The conference is organised by Shrinking the Footprint, the national environment campaign for the Church of England.
This event provides valuable opportunities for DEOs to hear about projects in other dioceses as well as for networking and issue sharing. Projects underway across the country spanned from solar co-operatives and clergy study days to creating networks of local champions and political campaigns.
The conference included a session from Ben Niblett, Head of Campaigns at Tearfund, about communicating climate change in light of the recent IPCC report as well as discussion led by Philip Fletcher, Chair of Mission and Public Affairs, about raising the profile of the environment on the Church of England agenda.
Not all of the conference was indoors, there were two outdoor worship sessions as well as a talk by Matt Freer, DEO of Oxford, on the concept of Forest Church, where we appreciated the wonder of creation and learnt a few tools for opening our senses to nature.
The Bishop of Bedford gave a thought-provoking talk after dinner on Thursday 17th, which included mention of Bangladesh where large areas are at threat of flooding from sea level rise.
All DEOs at the National Conference signed up to a declaration calling for urgent and sustained action in response to Climate Change.
Members of Exeter's Diocesan Synod voted on 12th October to introduce a 'Carbon Fast' for Anglican churches in Lent 2014.
Starting on 5th March next year congregations and parishes will be trying to reduce their carbon emissions through taking a series of actions at home, in church and in the community. Less driving, shopping more locally, better insulation, greater energy efficiencies, turning off unnecessary lights and heating, investing in non-fossil fuels, and other green activities are likely to be suggested each of 40 days across the Lenten time and in the run up to Easter on 20th April.
The same objective is being proposed across every Church of England Diocese in the South West, although so far only Bath & Wells, Bristol and Exeter have debated and voted on the suggestion.
It is also hoped that other churches in Devon will wish to participate and materials for worship, study and action will be developed in the coming months ready for use in the coming Spring.
Diocesan Environment Officer Martyn Goss introduced the issue to the Synod. A copy of his address is attached.