Eco-Congregation Scotland is taking a baton to Paris, to express the demands of churches in Scotland that negotiators agree to a deal that promotes global climate justice. The baton, which will pass around churches in Scotland throughout the summer of 2015, will carry the hopes and aspirations of Christians across Scotland for climate justice to be central to any agreement reached at the conference.
What is happening ?
- Greyfriars Recycling of Wood have made a baton for Eco-congregation Scotland from recycled church furniture.
- The baton bears the message Time for Climate Justice: Churches in Scotland Demand a Deal in Paris, December 2015.
- The relay was launched by Aileen McLeod MSP, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform at our Annual Gathering on 25th of April:
- In December 2015 the baton will be taken to the UN climate change conference in Paris to share our message with other churches and delegates.
See where the baton is going
You can have a look at this map and calendar of where the baton is going to get an idea of when it will be in your area. There are two batons in order to cover as much as Scotland as possible (which is why it will appear that it is in two places at once on many dates!). Green markers indicate where the baton has travelled so far; red markers indicate where it will be going.
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If you are a local church congregation you can book the baton to visit your church when it is passing through your area. As the route is dependent on who signs up please contact us as soon as possible to get your name on the list. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (or use our contact form here) stating the name of your congregation, its location, plus your name and phone number. We will get in touch to arrange a date.
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We ask that all congregations receiving the baton do the following:
- Fill out one of the postcards and post it to us so we can collect them together and give to the Climate Change minister to show where the baton has been.
- Contact the local press (newspaper or maybe local radio).
- Put an article in your own church magazine.
- Contact other local congregations (of all denominations) and ask them to take part.
When you receive the baton there will be a pack containing printed information. If any of this is missing you can download a copy here:
- Information sheet for congregations explaining what the baton relay is all about.
- Leaflets to give to the general public or congregation members.
- Postcards (front | back) to send to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Minister to tell her where the baton is .
- Advice for contacting the local media.
- Press release (Word format | PDF).
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If you see the baton, tell us where it is, hashtag: #cop21baton
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Christmas cards love camels. And when, last year, I made a nativity film with the congregation of Greenock West URC, it was a popular move to place the ‘Wise Men’ on camels, as a likely, but not essential mode of travel.
The text of Matthew’s Gospel neither mentions camels nor attributes wisdom to the visitors from the nondescript East.
Indeed, it has been a convenience for monocultural Christians to disregard the intrusion of high-status visitors – (no, not kings, that’s another unhelpful over-interpretation) – from an alien culture and religion.
‘Wise’ allows you to ignore “pagan’. The Bible is not so fussy or ‘precious’ as its users.
It has also been a convenience for ‘liberal’ scholars simply to assume most of the story is made up anyway by Matthew to massage into the tale of Jesus a bit more fulfilment of prophecy.
And yet it remains: the story is its own evidence, with much to trip up the complacent, and no shortage of telling realism: in the naive arrogance of the learned and the ultimately futile violence of those sensing their power, or authority, is at risk. And is there, after all, something rather last-minute about the Magi(cians)’ gifts, rummaging in their treasure chests for something appropriate?
Don’t mistake denialism for mere evasiveness: it has real casualties, as our friends in churches around the world assure us.
Having control of ‘wardrobe’ in the nativity film, I did take the spiritual liberty of dressing the Magi (Zoroastrians?) in the white coats of scientists. They are, if nothing else, learned observers of Creation. Though, hampered in their honest interpretation of what God’s about by their conventional attitudes.
Seeking a “king”, and assuming that others will think as they do, they head for Herod’s palace, and ultimately provoke the massacres of the infants of Bethlehem. One correction here to most of your Bibles at home: it’s not just the baby boys, but all the children up to about 2. The defence of privilege and the status quo is marvellously inclusive.
Matthew’s Nativity Story came up as the Bible study in a conference I was invited to these last few days. We read through the story, in a standard translation, slowly, and more than once, to let things sink in.
You could try that.
Then the leader of the study asked us all to consider what we might be led to share with someone else.
Well, lacking a congregation, as such, there’s you, dear reader..
May you have a joyful and deeply challenging Christmas. And next year, less plastic. And next year less carbon.
If the only way is up, how do we know when the economy has reached its destination? What does it mean for an economy to Arrive?
Instead of pursuing endless growth at all costs, it’s time for governments and other decision makers to prioritise shared wellbeing on a healthy planet.
In their new book “The Economics of Arrival: ideas for a growth up economy”, Dr. Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams present the exciting new concept of economic Arrival. They invite us to consider that “the agenda of fighting for survival could be over if the economy were to engage with a new challenge: that of building ourselves a lasting home in this place of plenty.”
Join the authors for a short talk on the book, followed by a Q&A and discussion about applying these ideas to contemporary Scottish politics, hosted by Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland. The discussion will be followed by a book signing and light refreshments will be available.
Barnabus and Jeremiah
I had somehow not anticipated how much environmentally-flavoured preaching at this time involves being a bearer of bad news. Being, proverbially, a ‘Jeremiah’.
Even in the couple of months since I began this job, the prospects for the state of the world well within most of our lifetimes have quite dramatically worsened, at least as regards public reporting of climate science consensus and of the limited success of such nations of the world as are seriously pursuing even the upper limit of the Paris Agreement
And yet at the end of a chaplain’s visit, quite diverse congregations are not emerging weeping or shaking with fear.
When I first began training for ministry, my grandmother observed that I was ‘smiling more’ and I do hope that worship is a nourishing experience as well as a serious one. One of my Bible heroes is Barnabus, the Encourager.
But I don’t think I’m seriously underplaying the situation, or being unduly jolly. And through it may be, to some extent, because few of us do not quite think through the implications, though I don’t think this is why the Eco-Congregations I have so far encountered do exhibit a certain spiritual buoyancy.
The safe space of Christian worship, at its best, is a place both for good news and bad news, for joys and sorrows. As a distinctively Christian environmental movement, we bring to the fraught and sometimes bitter environmental debates a trust in God, the experience of grace, and the remit of forgiveness, which may also involve receiving the forgiveness of our own complicity in the crisis, if only to set us free to act.
At the staff meeting today, we heard from 1 Corinthians 13, both the acknowledgement of the mystery and unpredictability of life, and of the affirming gifts of faith, hope, and love.
As a Member of the Iona Community, I like to claim that other triplet, as part of one of our most loved prayers: “Courage, faith, and cheerfulness”.
My online Advent Calendar, as a devotional project for this season of reflection has led me into some unexpected thoughts based on the Sunday readings.
Most of all, though, the importance of building up the confidence and faith of the church, to be a People of Hope, and of hospitality, come what may.Continue reading →
These folk look busy at something!
Wonder who they are?
They are a few of the 37 individuals from 24 different eco-congregations who took part in the Zero Waste workshops, organised by Eco-congregation Scotland, in Edinburgh and Glasgow at the end of November. The day flew by, with a 2-hour session in the morning called Love Food Hate Waste, followed after lunch by a 2 hour session on Love Your Clothes. Together we learned about the contribution that food waste and the clothing industry make to climate change, and some practical steps that we can all take to reduce our environmental impact. Great fun, but deadly serious too. The idea was that those who came along and took part can go back to their churches or networks or groups of friends and run their own informal activities and information events based on what they learned and the materials they have access to.
Wish you have been there? Don’t worry!
You have several options.
- Maybe someone from your church or area was at one of the workshops? If so, ask them if they will run a local mini-workshop to share what they found out!
- If not, we are planning to repeat these “cascade” workshop events:
(a) in Stirling on Saturday 2nd February
(b) in Cupar on Tuesday 5th February
(c) in Inverness on Friday 8th February.
Detailed information and booking forms will be out shortly, Hope to see you there!
- It’s amongst the oldest of Christian cracker-jokes: How many Catholics, Episcopalians, Evangelicals, Methodists, Presbyterians....[fill in the gaps] does it take to change a light-bulb? It’s probably best just to give the answer for your own tradition, at least until you have very good ecumenical relations! So, for my own church: How many URC folks does it take to change light-light-bulbs to LED? Probably, a Church Meeting, then a synod, then a General Assembly, then an assembly committee, then an additional special assembly to finally make the decision. Then another Church Meeting to see if they really want to take notice. Then, just one, to go out and get the bulb. Hmm. I’m sure you could do better, but the saddest answer is probably “Change? -We don’t do change!” Although the reflective time of Advent comes first for most Christians, a friend of mine is thinking of making her own, plastic-free Christmas crackers, and was wondering what might be included to give the jokes a wee bit more bite. Humour is a great gift from God, with, sometimes, the power to introduce ideas which would be ruled out as too hurried, too dangerous, too different, otherwise to be entertained. It’s a holy task, to challenge and bring folks with you, with the solidarity of a laugh, rather than an insult or smugness. As, also, to lift spirits in the face of worrying news. The jester. or the king’s ‘fool’ was amongst the most important minsters of state in European royal courts. They could say what no one else could get away with, and, sometimes, was needed to be said. In a society which loves to portray Christians as stuffy, naive and boring (and therefore not even worth persecuting) this may sometimes be our surprising role. Our hearers’ guard is down if they’re not expecting anything worthwhile from us. Then, joyful humility, rather than pride of status, can take us far. We have nothing to lose by telling the truth about climate crisis and the urgency of action, as well as the importance of holding on to hope in this strange time in which we live. As to the opening question: we have 430+ congregations, but there's always room for more! Keep on talking, keep on praying, keep on being the Church, for the greatest of all stand-ups, the Master of one-liners. a mere carpenter from Nazareth, born at the bottom of the heap, is the light that lights our way.