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Celebrating creation care champions

On Saturday 8 June, representatives from churches and schools all across the diocese gathered for an afternoon of celebration and thanksgiving, recognising the contributions that everyone is making to creation care in their local context.

Dr Ruth Valerio, former Global Advocacy and Influencing Director for Tearfund, and Churches Director for A Rocha UK, offered a powerful address that inspired us to consider why we care for creation in the context of our worship, our walk and our witness. She spoke of the hope we offer to  others, and the hope we have of what is to come.

“Actions for creation care are the first fruits of the future renewal; and churches can be witnesses to that hope.”

Following a time of worship, Bishop Steven reflected on the parable of the sower, and that now is the time to ‘dig deep and stand firm’. We need to continue to sow the seed of environmental teaching widely, so that some takes root and grows, and even as climate issues may fall our fashion, we must keep going. He also spoke of the importance of pastoring the next generation of climate advocates, who will be taking up this work in the years to come. 

But the highlight of the afternoon was the opportunity to hear about the projects happening across the diocese, that are inspiring action, change and hope in local communities. 

One such example was Jane Shepherd, for the role in managing the beautiful churchyard at St Andrew’s in Headington. She is behind the thousands of daffodils that bloom in the spring for pollinators, the Young Church initiative that sees children participating in gardening and growing, and the community herb garden at the front of the church that anyone can use.

In September 2019, the Eco Warriors at Marlow Church of England Infant School asked the Governors of the school to declare an environmental and climate emergency on their behalf. As a Green Flag school, they have been looking for different ways to save, recycle and reuse the Earth’s precious resources, they are courageous advocates for the preservation of the environment and particularly habitats and they are finding alternative ways to save energy. They have a Wild World at the school, which has created habitats for wildlife and mini-beasts, they run a walk to school campaign and they have a dedicated classroom for outdoor learning, the ‘Eco Barn’.

And Kate Banks is a member of St Mary’s Witney, and founded the Witney Eco Forum in partnership with other local organisations. Every month they host evenings in the church, with external speakers talking on a range of environmental topics – from the Botley west solar farm, to wildlife, and sewage. They recently held a meeting with former local MP Robert Courts, to discuss the Net Zero Review and hold the government to account on their net zero progress. They also held a hustings as part of the May local elections. 

And at the end of the afternoon, we announced that four churches will be entered into the national Church Times Green Awards, with a chance to win £1000. These churches are St Peter’s, Quarrendon in the ‘Green Health’ category, St Andrew’s Clewer in the ‘land and nature’ category, St Mary’s Witney for ‘Action on a Shoestring’, and St John’s and St Stephen’s Reading in the ‘congregation and community action’ category. 

One participant said: “An excellent afternoon – thought provoking and inspirational. I enjoyed meeting new people, making connections and hearing their stories. It has given me lots of new ideas to pursue. Thank you!”

You can read a full list of the churches and schools celebrated on the day, and contact Alison to join our Greenshoots network which gathers monthly to share ideas and inspiration. 

Page last updated: Friday 14th June 2024 2:00 PM
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