Diocesan Newsletter - MANNA

Manna mailing: for July 2021 parish magazines

Join us on the Pathway to Net Zero

In the run up to COP26, the UN Environment Conference that takes place in Glasgow in November 2021, churches are being encouraged to consider how they can take steps to care for our planet.

David Maggs, the Environment Champion for the Church of England in Somerset says, “In 2020 our new environmental strategy was approved. The Covid pandemic forestalled a major launch of the strategy, but as things start to return to normal we hope we can start to help people consider how they and their church can help care for creation. While we recognise many churches are still not open and not everyone is able to meet in person, there are still many ways to get involved.

“Already this year over 300 people from across Somerset have taken part in Wilder Churches training, a joint initiative with the Somerset Wildlife Trust as well as Churches Count on Nature Week and we really hope we can continue to build momentum and ensure that church communities across Somerset are doing all they can to care for this wonderful planet God has provided us with.”

From the first of July you can simply committing to pray on the first of each month. Or register with Eco Church to see how sustainable your church is and to commit to making improvements. The Church of England has a Practical Pathway to Net Zero tool, a good starting point for churches trying to move towards ‘net zero’, a position where there is a balance between the carbon emitted into the atmosphere, and the carbon removed from it.

For more ideas and inspiration keep an eye on the Diocese of Bath and Wells website and social channels.

God’s gift to humankind

By Trevor Willmott, Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Bath and Wells

The leaves of the trees will be for the healing of the nations. Rev. 22.2

A few days spent recently in the Lakes gave us a much anticipated opportunity to visit the new RHS garden, Bridgewater, near Manchester. Created in the ruins of the much overgrown walled garden of a long gone great house, the garden is the result of co-operation between the RHS and the City Council.

While the Paradise Garden with its pools and flowing water reminded me of the river of life in the Revelation, it was the therapeutic garden which captured my imagination. A number of charities working in inner Manchester with people whose lives are deeply affected by issues of mental health and social deprivation had approached the RHS to explore the possibility of creating a working garden to be grown and maintained by the various communities involved. The result is stunning both visually and mentally.

To aid the development the partners decided to allocate some of their limited financial resources towards the appointment of a full time occupational therapeutic gardener. Talking with her and reading the display boards around the garden we discovered that for many of those involved not only was this their first experience of gardening but more importantly the physical work and interaction is giving them a hope and purpose in life in ways that nothing else had been able to achieve.

The Revelation speaks of a world transformed and made new by God; the very stuff of the earth, trees and water, bringing new life to what was tired and old. The Scriptures remind us that the earth is God’s gift to humankind to be tended and cherished; to be used for the good of all.

But let the last word be that of the therapeutic gardener “we can care for others; we can care for the earth. All we need is a vision and the will.”

With my blessing

+Trevor

News in brief

Relay to COP26

In the run up to the COP26 climate change talks taking place in Glasgow in November, members of the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) are walking from the G7 venue, Carbis Bay in Cornwall to Glasgow to raise awareness of the urgent need for action not words in caring for God’s creation. The relay will see them pass, stopping at Wellington (8th), Taunton (9th), Bridgwater (10th), Axbridge (11th), Wrington (12th), Keynsham (17th) and Bath (18th).

Find out how you can support them or get involved at yccn.uk

Schools’ lightbulbs moment

10 church schools in Bath and Wells are undergoing major works to upgrade their lighting system as part of a commitment to reducing their carbon footprint. In the first year alone it’s estimated the move will save the schools a combined 45.93 kilowatts and around £18,963.

Stephen Bamford, Headteacher of Kilmersdon School, one of the schools involved, said: “It demonstrates that as a school and as a diocese, we are determined to reduce our carbon footprint and help the environment and community in every way we can.”

Churches Count for Nature

In June, St Edward’s Chilton Polden was one of our churches which took part in the national Churches Count for Nature. Co-organiser Anita Hayne said, “We heard about it at the Wilder Churches events with Somerset Wildlife Trust and, as we have just got our Bronze Eco Church award, we wanted to get involved. We found 120 different species of plants and animals, including slow worms and different kinds of bees. We started small this year but made some community connections and plan to do it again next year.”

Interview: Time to step up

Dr Peter Brotherton, is Lead Director for Climate Change at Natural England, the government’s agency for the natural environment, and Environment Officer for Peterborough Diocese.

What has climate change got to do with the Church?

Climate change will be felt most by the countries who have done the least to cause it. That’s a Christian issue. We are meant to be stewards of God’s creation and we are failing and must step up and play our part to support biodiversity and for climate change.

How are climate change and biodiversity linked?

Climate change is making the ecosystems we rely on to become less able to deliver what we need from them, in turn making climate change worse. 15 per cent of the emissions causing climate change are by land use change driven by human consumption.

Is biodiversity loss already affecting us?

Nature isn’t providing us with what we need in the UK already. Our air isn’t as clean as it should be. Our towns and homes flood more that they should. In some areas our soil is depleting and blowing away.

What can we do?

Many of the most nature rich places in urban areas – and there are species in Britain found only in churchyards so we do have a special role to play. We can make a difference by protecting and nurturing their biodiversity and by speaking up. If the church doesn’t speak about the environment, at a time when children are more conscious than ever that their future options are disappearing as a result of environmental changes, we will become irrelevant.

Can individuals make a difference?

It can seem an overwhelming, global problem but lots of little bits of action will matter. What we do as congregations and as individuals collectively adds up to a lot. Anything we can do to reduce how bad climate change gets has to be a good thing.

Thinking about action for nature as action for nature and for people is empowering. People should feel powerful and can make a big difference by telling those in power how much caring for the environment means to them.

Read the full interview at www.bathwells.anglican.org/time-to-step-up