As this summer unfolds, why not think about organising some positive, fun outdoor events to celebrate God’s wonderful creation, or just to enjoy being out and about in it? Eco-congregation doesn’t need to be all about meetings, serious discussions and challenging actions!
So here are a few ideas for you to consider – either as network events, or local church events, or something in between – perhaps you could invite two or three churches near you to join you.
1. Outdoor Worship
Just go out to some nice place in the outdoors – up a hill, in a forest, beside a river – and hold a simple worship event. It doesn’t need to be long or complex or formal. Start with a simple prayer and sing a song. Then give everyone 5 minutes to go off in a group of 2 or 3 to find some natural item (stone, feather, blade of grass, leaf…) and when they return invite them to share (just a sentence or two) what it tells them about God, his love, his world. Then finish with another song and prayer. Good for all-age groups.
2. A picnic
Head out after morning service to a local park or beauty spot. If you have to go far, try to use public transport, bike or (at least) car share. Bring out the rugs, flasks, picnic hampers, and enjoy. Don’t forget to bring your litter home with you for recycling (and pick up anyone else’s litter that has been discarded around where you were).
3. Combine 1 and 2 – a picnic and outdoor worship (in either order)!
4. A nature walk
Get someone knowledgeable to lead a nature walk through a local park, nature reserve or countryside. Focus on tree life or flowers or insects. Listen, learn and enjoy. You could always combine this with 1 and 2 as well!
5. A cycle run
Work out a nice route that is within the abilities of everyone you are going to invite. If it is a very mixed group, you could plan 2 or 3 different routes, all starting and ending in the same place. If you live in Stirling or Glasgow or some other town that has a public bike hire system, then why not make use of that? You could make it a sponsored event, or just do it for fun, and maybe have a picnic or outdoor worship at the end point.
6. A visit to a renewable energy project
Is there a renewable energy project near you? Maybe a wind farm, or a micro hydro scheme, or a solar farm, or a friendly farmer with a wind turbine … See if they would allow you to arrange a visit.
7. A beach clean or litter pick
Sounds like hard work, but it can be great fun. Contact your local authority, and they will likely be able to provide you with collecting bags, pickers, protective clothing and advise you about safety issues. And at the end, do something to celebrate!
8. A pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is just a walk with a spiritual focus. You can do a pilgrimage anywhere, but why not walk a section of one of Scotland’s pilgrim ways? See http://www.sprf.org.uk/routes.html for ideas.
9. A garden visit
Is there a community garden in your area? Or a “big hoose” with formal gardens. Why not make it an outing to go and see what is growing?
10. A garden walk
Organise a “garden walk” – find 6 or more individuals who live within walking distance, who are willing to open up their gardens one afternoon or evening. Provide a map, and invite folk to wander from one garden to another, chat with the owners, and just enjoy the variety. Maybe one of them will provide teas and coffees (FairTrade of course, in environmentally friendly cups!). You could charge an entry fee, and donate to an environmental charity
Of course, if children are involved, you will need to take proper precautions, and ensure that there are responsible adults with them at all times.
I hope that you might try one or more of these ideas (I know some of you do these things already), or you may have much better ideas of your own. If you do arrange something, let us know what you are doing (a member of ECS staff or trustee might like to join you!) Don’t forget to take a camera along, and send us a report with some photos after the event, so we can share ideas with other groups.
PS If you are on holiday anywhere in Scotland, and visit a church while you are away, ask them if they are a registered eco-congregation, and if not, encourage them to look at our website and find out more about us. You could even leave them a leaflet!
Best wishes and have a good summer enjoying God’s wonderful world,
David Bethune, Programme Coordinator