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Help for those hit by hurricanes

CHURCHGOERS in the Thames Valley are being asked to assist the Diocese of North East Caribbean and Aruba, whose churches and communities have been devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Hurricane Irma is heading towards the Caribbean Sea – Elements of this image furnished by NASA. Photo: Shutterstock

Canon Chris Sugden, Commissary for the Diocese of North East Caribbean and Aruba, who lives in Oxfordshire, has shared news from Bishop Errol Brooks, bishop of the diocese. In Anguilla, Bishop Errol Brooks noted that the three Anglican churches, St Andrew’s Island Harbour, St Mary’s in the Valley and St Augustine’s had all been damaged. “I do not know where to start,” said the assessor.

Damage was worse on the islands of Barbuda and Dominica. The former, which was hit by both hurricanes, had to be completely evacuated. On Dominica an estimated 90 per cent of the island’s buildings were damaged or destroyed; crops were completely wiped out; and many people were dead or missing. St George’s Church, in the heart of the capital, lost its roof and many windows, and buildings associated with it were damaged.

Bishop Errol was appreciative of the relief efforts by the UK Government to help Anguilla, which is a British Overseas Territory. “They did what they could”, he said, “I saw helicopters coming off the Royal Navy guard ship to repair the fuel lines ruptured by the storm. I live near the airport and have watched RAF transport flights coming in one after the other.”

Those islands that had been unaffected had sent relief supplies across to their neighbours. But the real impact of the hurricane will be felt in the next few weeks. The end of the hurricane season is the start of the tourist season in November. While the sector is recovering quickly in some areas, in others the tourism industry won’t be fully operational for at least another year. Islands like Dominica have also lost the bulk of their non-tourism livelihoods.

Relief supplies, including food, will be needed for some time. The Anglican Alliance hosted a conference call for Anglican partners, during which Bishop Errol shared similar reports of the devastation. “We also heard about the response both from the diocese and the province to those affected by the hurricanes,” said Dr Janice Proud, Anglican Alliance Relief Manager. “We heard how Antigua had sent emergency supplies to Barbuda when they were devastated by Hurricane Irma, then had no reserves when Hurricane Maria hit them.”

Bishop Errol said: “ Every year we brace ourselves for these storms. Anyone who thinks that global warming is not a reality, needs to think again. I have never known two massive storms come through the area in swift succession with winds of 185 miles an hour and gusts of 250 miles an hour. This is unprecedented.”

Fr Clive Thomas from Barbados shared the desire of the Anglican Alliance Caribbean Forum to build comprehensive disaster management – both mitigation and response for the Anglican Church in the Caribbean. This would build the resilience of the community to cope with the impact of the changing climate.

Donate to the relief effort through USPG or the St Alban’s Diocese.

Face to face with climate change in Bolivia

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by Phil Evans

If you don’t believe the climate is changing, take a trip to Bolivia. I was lucky to be able to visit Christian Aid partners working in both the Bolivian Amazon and the High Andes. In both places, people have been suffering from the effects of global warming for decades. And the situation is becoming ever more acute. Children in Capaina, deep in the Amazonian rainforest, told me how last year’s floods were even worse than usual.

“Our village was submerged. Wenceslao, our Corregidor (community leader), swam through the snake-infested water to get help” they told me. “For a long time afterwards, we just didn’t want to play outside. We were still frightened,” they said.

The children also told us how Christian Aid’s local partner Soluciones Prácticas had been the first to come to their aid – assessing the situation and getting to action before any other organisation. Their crops had been devastated. So Soluciones Prácticas made sure Capaina had enough food to tide them over until they could grow new crops. They sourced quick-growing seeds from another part of the Amazon to replace the lost plants as quickly as possible while preserving the indigenous biodiversity. Wenceslao continued, “The village is being flooded more frequently as a result of global warming. These floods were the worst anyone can remember.”

I left the village thinking: “Is this really due to climate change? How can you know?” The answer came when visiting Fundación Solón in La Paz, high in the Andes. Fundación Solón is another Christian Aid partner that raises awareness of climate change, economic justice and access to water. Bolivia’s glaciers have been disappearing for decades. It’s not a recent phenomenon.

Many Bolivians in the High Andes  and in two of Bolivia’s main cities — La Paz and El Alto — depend on the partial melting of Andean glaciers for drinking water during the dry season. Bolivians are truly in the forefront of climate change. Christian Aid partners in Bolivia are helping poor communities like Capaina mitigate the effects of changes to the climate. On a more strategic level, Fundación Solón’s Director, Elizabeth Peredo, is a powerful voice on the international stage. She recently ran seminars at the Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change during the COP20 Climate Conference in Peru.

When I spoke to her, she was shocked that some people in the UK don’t believe climate change is even happening. “Tell them our story,” she told me, “we’re living with climate change every day”.

Phil Evans is the Christian Aid Regional Co-ordinator for Buckinghamshire.

Artists raising awareness of water issues through murals (Fundacion Solon)

Artists raising awareness of water issues through murals (Fundacion Solon)

glacier

Glacier Cahaltaya in teh 1940s and recently.

Lisbeth and her quick growing crops.

 

How will your church make Time for Creation?

AN autumn of opportunities awaits Christians in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire as Time for Creation gathers momentum. Blewburyforweb

The project, which runs from 1 September to 4 October sees churches celebrating our role in creation and as stewards of it. The theme is God, whose farm is all creation giving churches the chance to focus on farming as well as climate change and creation care issues. Rural Officer the Revd Canon Glyn Evans says: “When we grow our own food we are sharing in the farming of creation, partnering God in his creative purposes. Even the pot of herbs growing on the kitchen windowsill can help make that link. And maybe churches could make contact with a farmer to see what they have been harvesting, and talk about how that becomes the food they enjoy and how it shapes the local environment?”

All Saints Wokingham will be taking part in Time For Creation by marking the UN Climate Summit on 23 September. All Saints will be considering themes including carbon fasting, the state of the oceans, and poverty. The Revd Colin James says: “We say that creation – all of it, including the animal kingdom, plants and oceans – is a gift for us not to exploit but to cherish and to try to protect and ensure that it’s handed on in good shape to successive generations. It’s a matter of stewardship of God’s gifts, actually.”

At St Nicolas, Earley, a Justice, Peace and Environment group has been set up, as part of the Mission Action Plan. The group is in the early stages of planning a Time for Creation event. Wendy Neale, from the church, said: “We aim to focus, as a church, on being aware of God’s presence in every area of life. Time for Creation gives us a time of year when we will focus on care for creation and our place in God’s world.”
Oakwood Forest Church was set up by St Nicolas LLM, Emma Major, along with a Baptist Minister and a representative of the local Ecumenical Partnership. Emma said celebrating Time for Creation coincides with the first anniversary on 20 September at 3pm. The Forest Church meets at the Maiden Erlegh Nature Reserve, which has a large lake, and eight medieval oaks that have been protected. It is surrounded by urban development. Emma says: “It is a five minute walk or cycle for anyone in Earley. It’s such a brilliant opportunity to meet people who may be scared of church, but are connecting with God when they are walking their dog or out in nature. It’s a chance for them to join us and ask questions.”

In Buckinghamshire, churches will be invited to take part in a resource day on developing an eco-friendly parish, which will take place on 9 October. Climate change will be the specific focus of several key events going forward into the Autumn. During the Christian Aid Hunger for Justice weekend on 18 – 19 October, churches are urged to invite their local MP to an event or service to speak about their commitments to international development and to respond to questions on their party’s promises on climate change.

As climate change takes hold, the world’s poorest people – those communities who have done the least to cause climate change – bear the brunt of its chaos. Jessica Hall, Regional Coordinator from Christian Aid says, “The Hunger for Justice weekend gives churches the chance to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with sisters and brothers around the world, and encourages us all to take steps towards a safer, cleaner future.”

Churches show their Hunger for Justice at Christian Aid’s climate weekend

ON 18-19 October, churches across the UK will act and pray together for our world. Will the Oxford Diocese join them?

This is a powerful moment for Christians to come together and speak out against the injustice of climate change and pray for change. Churches will invite their local MP to an event or service to speak about their commitments to international development, and to hold them to account for their party’s promises on climate change.

The world’s poorest people – those communities who have done the least to cause climate change – bear the brunt of its chaos. Ever more erratic weather is increasing the incidences of storms and droughts, ruining harvests across the globe and eroding the gains made by poor communities as they try to work their way out of poverty.

Jessica Hall, Regional Coordinator from Christian Aid says, “The Hunger for Justice weekend gives churches the chance to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with sisters and brothers around the world, and encourages us all to take steps towards a safer, cleaner future.”

We put our hope into action as we all share the same prayer from Latin America, ‘Lord, to those who are hungry, give bread. And to those who have bread, give a hunger for justice’

 Find out more about taking part and urging your MP to act on climate change by clicking here.

If you would like further information please contact Jessica Hall on 01865 246818 or email jhall@christian-aid.org

Grub’s Up

Roy Lambourne has been a farmer in Marsh Gibbon for his whole life, farming land that was previously farmed by his father, grandfather, and great grandfather, going back generations. He explained how climate change, population growth and global businesses mean 21st century food production is out of the hands of the primary producer and governed by large, international conglomerates.

He reminded the congregation that nearly half of food produced is wasted, with one third never reaching the shops because it is the wrong shape or is marked in some way.

“Agriculture has seemingly lost its significance – less than two per cent of the population are farmers. We are in danger of going far beond the earth’s resources as we meet the demand for food. I have often sat down to dinner and everything has been produced by myself and that is very satisfying. I consider myself fortunate to have spent my life as I have done. I have never been for a job interview, never done a CV or been employed but I have never been out of work and I have lived and worked in God’s creation.
“To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under Heaven.”

Ruth Valerio is an activist who writes Bible Studies for Tearfund, said: “Food is my theology, it speaks about me and about what I believe. In my early years I was proud of a chicken that I had bought because it was so cheap. I felt I was stewarding my money well.

“I would buy packets of casserole and everything was cooked with two vegetables. Fast forward 18 years down the line and the way that it looks is very different. There have been three main changes.

“I have vastly reduced the meat that I eat. We are not vegetarians but we have made a real effort to reduce our meat consumption and eat a broader range of vegetables.

“I try to produce, grow, and rear as much of my own food as possible. There has been a lot for me to learn. I am part of a big co-operative, keep chickens and have an allotment with friends, so it’s been a wonderful adventure.

“I try to eat my food in as unprocessed a form as possible. Food is my theology because if I say I believe in God the maker of heaven and earth I want to eat in a way that reflects that.

“Food is a gift, something that has been given to us by God.” For more on Ruth see ruthvalerio.net.

The Revd Dr Mike Rainer works Monday to Friday as a public health researcher and on Sundays is an assistant curate at St Matthew’s, Oxford.
“About half the research is about food, school meals, food labelling, and food taxes. I do research that has direct bearing on government policy, sometimes it is directly funded by the Government, some has been funded by the British Heart Foudation.”

Mike says he writes sermons on food and posts them on his blog. “Something I do Monday to Sunday, at work and at church is of course, eat. At church I have bread and wine with fellow Christians and the occasional bring and share meal.

Food is a pleasure that is also somewhat problematic. I eat too much and I don’t have an allotment. I don’t grow my own food apart form a few herbs and I am partial to a Big Mac. I’m not a vegetarian. I also enjoy cooking for special occasions.

“Food is part of my work, it is the subject of my recreation and it is what keeps me alive by providing occasions for conversation and through the Eucharist it keeps me alive spiritually.”
However Mike pointed out that in the UK more than a billion people are obese.

Paul Valentin, the International Director of Christian Aid, gave a global perspective, stating that 868 million people in the world suffer from hunger. “Does that figure really matter and does it express the level of individual suffering if you don’t know where your next meal is coming from?”

He mentioned the absence of nutrients from children’s food and how Christian Aid is working together with other organisations on the ‘IF’ campaign, calling for an end to global hunger. So what does food mean to him as a person? Paul said he grew up in a loving family in Holland that never went short of food, eating seasonal vegetables, at a time 40 or 50 years ago when chicken was a luxury. He said he later learnt about olive oil from the late 1960s, when they went abroad for their holidays. “I can still hear my mother’s voice if I refused to finish a brussel sprout. We never took food for granted and always said grace before and after meals, which felt like a necessary ritual. From an early age I was an avid gardener. When I was eight or nine we had a school garden and my first harvest was of carrots, beans and beetroot.”

Paul studied topical agriculture with a view to going into i

nternational development. “My first three-and-a-half years were in Africa, living amid subsistence farmers. One year the rains failed completely and people fell hungry. They got into debt with traders, women starved themselves to feed their children but the poor are incredibly resilient.”
He spent time in Kenya and the Philippines, living among tribal people who would make a meal of ants. “Many people would only eat once a day and there was very little you could do to increase the food supply.”

Join the mass visual trespass

THE Bishops in the Oxford Diocese have added their images to Christian Aid’s Mass Visual Trespass Campaign ahead of the Copenhagen climate talks.

Bishop John, Bishop Stephen and Bishop Alan have all been photographed with the word ‘Copenhagen’ written across their foreheads, while Bishop Colin has been pictured with the a banner.

Visual Trespass

The images are part of the Mass Visual Trespass campaign, some of which will be projected onto landmark buildings across the UK with messages from people who are calling on the international community – and Gordon Brown in particular – to seal a fair and effective climate change deal at December’s Copenhagen climate summit.
Bishop John said: ‘Climate change poses a very real threat to humanity and to our planet and we must be in no doubt that the Copenhagen climate change summit requires strong leadership that will deal fairly and effectively with the consequences of climate change that we are already seeing.’

Events

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