Make COP Count at St Edburg’s, Bicester

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Colin Cockshaw tells the environment team about the plans St Edburg’s, Bicester, has for the run up to COP26.

Bucks Bee Club is a Hive of Activity

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A Buckinghamshire church’s weekly bee club has made quite a buzz with the younger members of the All Saints’ Coleshill congregation.

Environment Action Programme Internships

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Four students from the University of Oxford share their experiences from internships with the Diocese’s Environment Action Programme.

Taking Climate Action in the Benefice of Witney

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The rector of the Witney Benefice meets the local MP to discuss their cares and concerns on environmental issues and climate action.

A helpful clarification…

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What’s happened?

A number of commentators on social media have said that the core message of this film by the Bishop of Reading is pantheistic or panentheistic. Pantheism is defined as a doctrine which identifies God with the universe, or regards the universe as a manifestation of God.

What does that mean, and why does it matter?

Incarnate means “taking flesh”, “becoming human”. Christians believe this happens in a unique and unrepeatable way in Christ, lifting up humanity to a unique place within the creation. Applying the same analogy to the whole of creation can be seen as blurring the distinction between Christ and Creation; that God is in everything to the same degree. In turn, people believe that if God is in everything to the same degree, then this erodes the supremacy and uniqueness of Christ.

Is that what you meant to say?

Of course, this isn’t the intended message of the film, as Bishop Olivia responds:

In the first of the videos I made on how we might understand our care for the environment, I used the word ‘incarnation’ in a very broad sense which some have found unhelpful, so here is a clarification.

The event of the Incarnation of Christ, at a moment in time and in a place on Earth was unique, unrepeatable and salvic. Through this event, as Colossians 1 puts it, we see in Christ, not only the image of the invisible God, but the fulness of God, and the whole of the created world has access to ultimate reconciliation with God.

Reading John 1 and Colossians 1 gives us a profound sense that all things are formed through God and Christ the Logos. And since the beginning, God makes Godself known in creation for the purpose of reconciliation. More than this, as we read in Laudato Si’, God’s love is the fundamental moving force in all created things; his divine presence ensures the subsistence and growth of each being.

I can see that the words I used had a pantheistic ring to them, which I did not intend (God and creation are not the same thing). But I think that it is helpful, in considering our relationship to our world to think about the notion that the Divine pervades every part of the universe, while clearly being above, beyond and greater than the universe.

“The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork”
– Psalm 19

 

It’s good to encourage debate

It’s good that there has been some vigorous debate. Done well, it shows that we care. Let’s remember too that, as Christians, we also have an essential part to play in the shape of online society. How we model good disagreement and how we interact with one another is important. Let’s make social media kinder.

Environmentally-friendly electric car for Bishop Olivia

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The Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Olivia Graham, is the latest bishop in the Diocese of Oxford to move to an environmentally-friendly electric car.

Funding for Energy Efficiency Work

Is your church undertaking some energy efficiency plans – and looking for funding? Here are some thoughts on first steps

Diocesan Grants

Implementation Grants

If you’ve had a diocesan energy audit, you’re eligible to apply for an implementation grant up to the cost of the audit. Contact energy.audits@oxford.anglican.org to receive the form.

Top-up Grants

The diocese has received some funding from our partners at Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment, which we can use to top up the implementation grants by a small amount for key energy efficiency projects that churches would find difficult to fund. If you’d like to know more, email energy.audits@oxford.anglican.org.

 

Funding advice from the National Church

The Parish Resources team have put together a useful guide to Charitable Grants for Churches, which includes a section on ‘Environmental and Sustainability Projects’

The Church of England website also has useful step-by-step Funding and Capital Appeals Guidance

 

Other Grant Funding

Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action has a list of funders that give environmental grants for projects in Oxfordshire (and often beyond).

 

 

Ways for churches to save energy and money

The church energy audit programmes conducted by Oxford and Leeds dioceses and the National Church have resulted in some key learnings about how churches can best save carbon – and money.

What did we find?

The findings of the energy audits were analysed by Sarah Jeffery, acting on behalf of the two dioceses and the National Church. You can see some of the information about the findings in this webinar: ‘A Positive Vision of a Net Zero Carbon Church’

What practical advice has resulted?

The material from the energy audit advice was used to create the National Church’s ‘Practical Path to Net Zero Carbon for Churches’ – a simple guide to the steps you can take, from simple, low or no-cost measures to larger projects. Read it here.

You might also like to look at this guide to making your building sustainable.

St James’ wins national Green award

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WINNING a Church Times Green Church Award was a “wow” moment for Ed Sampson, the church warden at St James’ Finchampstead in Berkshire.

The church was awarded £1,000 for its work to convert scrubland into a biodiverse churchyard extension and garden of remembrance. Now a wildlife haven, the garden features bat boxes, bee hotels and wild flowers. The judges praised the range of small measures, the celebration of diversity and the community engagement. Pictured right is Bishop Andrew at the consecration of the churchyard in 2016. The first burial on the newly converted land took place in October.

Ed travelled to Lambeth Palace for the prestigious awards ceremony. Ed said: “There were so many deserving cases. I set off thinking there was no chance of us winning. When they announced St James’ had won I nearly fell off my chair.” He described the project, which saw volunteers clear 10ft high brambles and nettles to get it level for burials. “It is hoped that the prize money will be used for more landscaping work to help the churchyard fit in with the local scenery.”

Churches Working in Partnership on the Environment

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PARTNERING with other people in care for creation can be an important part of a church’s witness and outreach, a way of practically showing the love of God and neighbour. But how can we work effectively with partners in the community? And how can we build positive relationships with local politicians?

At the end of May in Oxford, Christians from different churches came together to think through these questions. In the morning Alice Hemming, coordinator of Oxfordshire’s Community Action Groups network, and John Clements, from the Parish of North Hinksey with Botley, spoke about the way in which community sustainability groups operate and how churches can start their own or get involved with them.

Inspired by examples like the Botley Community Fridge, participants brainstormed about activities their churches could undertake and community partners they might work with. In the afternoon, leading environmental charity Hope for the Future ran a session on how to build a constructive relationship with your MP. Using – for the first time – their newly published workbook, which brings together expertise gleaned from research and dozens of MP meetings, Director Jo Musker-Sherwood and Assistant Director Sarah Robinson discussed how parliament works, techniques that are effective in meetings, and how to continue a relationship beyond a single meeting.

The afternoon culminated in a role play exercise in which a group of participants planned and carried out a meeting with Jo standing in as their MP. The response to both sessions was enthusiastic.

If you’d like to find out more or want to receive a Hope for the Future workbook, contact the diocesan world development adviser maranda@ccow.org.uk.