The driving ethos behind eco church is the desire for the church to be active in the world, following the way of Jesus in our real lives and a hopeful, creative vision for the future. It is about speaking out for justice and lives renewed by the simplicity and love that Jesus taught us. It is about doing something, making a difference and supporting each other in our desire to build a world of justice and beauty for all.
It seems that we are on our way to achieving our Gold Award for Eco church at St Helens as so may things are now up and running and 'boxes have been ticked'. This is a considerable achievement and it is proving to be great fun and inspirational. We have surveyed our churchyard, we have created a natural recreational space (labyrinth), and we have created a regular Eco church meeting. We have put things in the Parish News, attended fayres and gone on Lobbies to London and we have an active web site (thehavenecochurch.com). We are praying for the earth and its natural habitats and some of our liturgies and special services have that focus. The things we have yet to achieve are:
Checking our cleaning products are eco friendly, and tea and coffee are fair trade, and looking into ways to reduce plastic use and bulk buy organic food. Looking into native tree planting (where and what - and would St Helens school be interested?). Making Bat Boxes, Bird Boxes, Bug Hotels and Hedgehog boxes. Inviting speakers and looking at our personal environmental 'footprint' and thinking about digging a pond, (where and how and what design). We are also looking at LOAF and locally campaigning for a reduction in single use plastic.
LOAF.... One of the Eco church commitments is to promote LOAF food... that is Local, Organic, Animal friendly and Fairtrade. Something that is becoming evident is that the UK needs to think again about it's food production and as a nation of gardeners, it is terrible that over half of our food is imported. There is a growing interest in local small scale food production here on the Island and on educating school children in the art of horticulture with free green houses for schools (from APS Salads) and small scale intensive agriculture (from the Modern Kitchen Garden) and eco church is part of the networking, and that strengthens our local food economy. Follow updates on the web site.
Action on Plastic... As part of Eco church we are also committed to campaigning for environmental issues. The following campaign has been initiated on the Island and is something that you may be interested in joining. Follow updates on the web site and watch this program if you want to be inspired. On the Last Saturday of the month from 9.30 to 11.30 at Supermarkets around the island, a peaceful and hopeful protest involves bringing your reusable containers for the food you buy, removing the packaging from your regular shop and putting it in trolleys at Customer services. The first event was in Sainsbury's in June and the second at Tesco in July.
AUGUST Sunday 11th 10am Eco Sunday Communion followed by Eco church 11am to 12 noon A walk round the churchyard to look for places to plant trees and dig a pond and place animal homes. Wildlife management plan. Sunday 25th 3.30pm Eco Church Making animal homes.
SEPTEMBER Sunday 8th 10am Eco Sunday Communion followed by Eco Church 11am to 12 noon Stephen Dominy, Regional co-coordinator for Christian Aid, to preach on the environment followed by a discussion about how we can be involved and connected to global environmental campaigning. Putting the animal habitats in place. Saturday 14th Ride and Stride walk through the Haven Benefice visiting the churches. Beginning at Yaverland Church at 10am. Saturday 21st and 28th Community Apple pressing days (TBA) Sunday 22nd 10am St Helens Harvest Festival and 3.30pm Eco Church.The food we eat... looking at LOAF and fair-trade and a possible food coop.
If any of the above interests you or you have skills or time to offer then please do contact me on 07500 007437
Whatever else eco church is, mainly it is about US doing all we can.
In our family we have recently been reading and discussing a book about Piracy. In it piracy is not sanitised and made noble but it is however seen as an inevitable act of rebellion against the removal of rights and liberties from the common man (seaman in historical terms). The Author stresses that there is an idea called 'the commons'. This is space that is not in private or corporate ownership or bound up in copyright. It is thought, music, land, invention and food production that is FREE, free to use and enjoy by all people. In the book he describes the historic land enclosures and the annual beating of the bounds within the parishes that was literally the beating down of fences that encroached on the common land where the ordinary people lived and farmed.
Over the centuries we have lost so much in the privatisation of our lives to the point where our children travel all over the world looking for freedom; freedom to light a fire outside in a field with friends, to wander over land without fences. We look in this country for places of freedom, sailing on the sea, playing on our beaches, places were no one seems to be in ownership and we are treading on nobody's toes! Another place that is truly 'common' is the church. Your churches are yours by right and heritage. You can enter and you have a right to be part of the services that take place there. You should never feel that you are entering a closed club or a private building. You should never need a welcome (although you will surely get one!) because it is your space to wander in, sit in, create in, pray in. This weekend at St Helens Church we have enjoyed the 3OOyrs celebration flower festival and were entertained on Saturday night by the 'Scottish Fiddlers'. They played music from 3OOyrs that was 'common'. The tunes they played were for the ordinary people, for the sailors, the fishermen, for isolated rural communities to dance to. As we listened so it seemed the music was in tune with all we are trying to achieve in our churches. The inclusion, the community, the extraordinary beauty of a community bringing their talents and creativity together in the flower arrangements, the hospitality and the music.
For me this weekend and all the many community building activities that the church supports are acts of rebellion. We rebel against the privatisation of our lives, the stealing of our common spaces and our precious time. To all the young people who may wonder at our tea and cakes I say, look closer, we are pirates, we gather in communities of all people, sharing what we have (our time) in this rebellion against loneliness and fear of commitment and the endless pursuit of wealth. In this we gather with the greatest rebel of them all - Jesus, just read his teaching to see!
At the end of last month our beloved vicar Jill Carman died. She was suffering from terminal cancer but still her passing was a shock to us all. On the day before she died she jointly lead a 'Service for times of Need' in St Catherine's chapel where she prayed for all those there and offered blessing by the laying on of hands along with the Revds Ali and Michael. The service was peaceful and the people present were moved by the quiet peace and gentle encouragement that it offered.
The service was a recognition that life is not easy and that there are many griefs and trials to be born in our mortal lives and in the lives of those we love. We are not promised material blessing or physical healing from God but we are offered a firm psychological hand to hold and a path to wholeness and well-being that may include the restoration of our lives. The following words are from the forward to the service that was developed in the lona community in Scotland.
'We all stand in need of restoration and in this ministry we recognise that this also has a social dimension. The healing of divided communities, the healing of the earth itself, has a place alongside the mending of broken bodies, hurt minds and wounded hearts and of the hurts and divisions within ourselves. So too our prayers are complementary with the work of medicine and other forms of healing, which are also channels of God's loving and transforming action. In this service anyone may name particular people and places and situations for which prayers are specifically asked. We do this because each person and situation is known to God, not as a problem to be solved but as a focus for God's acceptance and love. We are nof seeking to change God but to change the world; and we trust God that our prayers will be heeded, although we do not know when or how that will happen'.
The prayers that we said offered this plea, God of compassion and love
we offer you all our suffering and pain.
Give us strength to bear our weakness,
healing even when there is no cure,
peace in the midst of turmoil,
and love to fill the spaces of our lives
For Jill there was 'Healing when there is no cure' and we are thankful for this even as we acknowledge that it is hard for those of us left behind; for her beloved family whom she adored and her village and church community whom she served with grace and fortitude even in her pain.
As we live in this fleshy, mortal world where life is a precious gift for a season so we dare to say that death can be a healing and that there is love and grace in mourning.
PS If you ever want a place to talk about death and dying then please do contact the church, we are here to help in many practical ways and to offer a listening ear for as long as you need it.
On our Haven benefice web site we say that we are an ‘open and inclusive church’. For those people who know about these things it means that we are fully accepting and welcoming of all people regardless of gender, sexuality, race or culture. Which means, to put it clearly so that we can't be misunderstood, that we in these churches recognise that God's grace and blessing, love and acceptance is for all people. The Church of England is a present undergoing a long hard look at itself with regards to its attitudes towards the Blessing of same sex civil partnerships and theological responses to the growing public debate around sexual and gender identity. As yet here is little clarity and guidance from the governing centre of the church but with the appointment of our new archdeacon, who comes to us with his male partner, it seems that individual churches need to speak out.
A sermon on Pride that I preached last year, that is available on this web site, makes clear the position I hold. This is that it is not enough to be quietly inclusive, we need to make this known. The reason for this is that the assumption of the public is that the church is discriminatory and if we don’t say that we are not, we will be colluding with a picture of God's exclusive favour that we fundamentally disagree with. We hold this inclusive and graceful understanding of God as a cornerstone of our witness to the world and of our love for all creation.
We in the Haven Benefice welcome our new archdeacon and his partner to the island and look forward to his wisdom and insight among us. His installation service is on the 18th May at the Minster in Newport at 5pm.
Or the sermon can be found on the sermon podcast site at…..
A year from my arrival in the parishes, the comments below are now published on the web site under the title About Us. They are the fruit of our time together and the way that we see these churches serving their communities into the future....
In a world of busyness, change and growing meaninglessness, the Parish churches of Seaview, St Helens, Brading and Yaverland offer a Haven of peace, stability and progressive Christian search for Faith. In order to do this we prioritize the following things....
We are committed to maintaining our beautiful historic buildings and sensitively enhancing them so that they remain open for anyone who wishes to enter any time of the day. We offer rituals of meaning that hold a space for thanksgiving, celebration and mourning and are very pleased to try and ensure that these baptisms, blessings, weddings and funerals are personal and relevant. We like to work with parishioners to help them craft these ceremonies so that they are contemporary and meaningful. We prioritize pastoral care and being agents of compassion in our communities.
We understand our role in the community as one of Serving and Blessing.
We appreciate that we are just temporary stewards of these holy places and respect the traditions of the historic church. We offer services on a Sunday from the Common Worship book and many of them are sung communions. Our clergy and choir are robed for these services and our tradition here is middle Anglican. In addition to our Sunday services we have week day communions that are quiet and more informal and a Thursday evening contemplative prayer service that draws on the ancient monastic traditions of silent meditation and contemporary understandings of the mind and human thriving.
We understand our worship as one of enriching the lives of people so they can live life in all is fullness.
We are passionate about being relevant to present day society and to developing new ways in which the teaching and life of Jesus can be visualized in an increasingly secular society. We understand that much of the language, theology and imagery of the historic church now has little resonance with contemporary society and the culture of younger generations. We are moving forward with progressive theology and looking at ways in which science, philosophy, psychology and politics impact the historic beliefs of the church. We are open and inclusive, and see God as manifest in all things, present and active. We ore comfortable with interfaith dialogue and respect other faith traditions and believe in working with all people of good faith towards a world infused with peace and love. We ore committed to working for a society of justice and especially for environmental healing worldwide and on our Island.
We understand our Faith as developing and moving forward into exciting new expressions of belief centred on the Life and teachings of Jesus and God present in all creation.
If anything in the above sparks your interest do come and see what we are up to or contact me for a chat anytime.