Baton Relay

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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:DSC_0064b
  • 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 manager@ecocongregationscotland.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:

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If you see the baton, tell us where it is, hashtag: #cop21baton


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  • Demo Clips: Hymns on YouTube to trad tunes.

    I’m extremely grateful for these demo recordings of the hymn texts offered for the Season of Creation
    Wording and credits can be found in the description box on YouTube in each case. They’re also on my Facebook page ‘EcoChaplain Online’

    Please do use, if they have a place in your worship or devotions.
    ————————————
    Now Christ lives here ( Courage Brother)
    https://youtu.be/p7SLOxOR2J0

    Now Christ lives here ( Blaenwern)
    https://youtu.be/jTXBZYg787c
    —————————————-
    Our Legacy is dire ( Kingsfold)
    https://youtu.be/JzEwGMvjVS0
    ——————————————-
    One Day I said sorry ( St Deinio)
    https://youtu.be/cKA8PvX86YA
    —————————————————
    Deep our Longing ( Westminster Abbey)
    https://youtu.be/ljdOzsMQ50A

    Continue reading →
  • Livingston United Parish Church Silver Award

    Creation Time Activity – Map of Scotland in stones.

    We are delighted to announce that Livingston United Parish Church, Nether Dechmont Community Centre, Livingston has been awarded an Eco-Congregation Scotland Bronze Award on 06/09/2019 in recognition of their work and commitment to caring for creation.

    Livingston United Parish Church were especially commended by the assessors for the level of involvement of many individuals in the planning and the continuing good communication links, as well as the way communications are made.

    They were also commended for the way they embed creation themes into worship, prayer and learning. A foundation in spiritual living & worship is embedded in the ethos of the worship team in promoting all matters of environmental & peace and justice concern. This is achieved in a variety of ways with all ages and places on the journey included.

    Also noted for special commendation were the number of varied actions and creative activities available to the congregation and local community which continue to be supported as well as the evident embedding of the eco congregation values into what they are doing.

    Eco Awareness Stand

    Continue reading →
  • Selkirk Parish Church Gold Award.

    Selkirk Parish Church have been awarded their Eco Congregation Scotland Gold Award.
    The Parish Church has just achieved the highest award as an Eco Congregation, only the sixth in Scotland to receive a Gold Award, and the first to experience a virtual assessment via Zoom.
    The congregation was delighted to learn that all the criteria under the headings of Spiritual, Practical and Global Living were met or exceeded. They were particularly commended for the use of the pop-up shop as a monthly Recycling Clinic and drop off point. So thanks to those in the community for collecting and bringing those hard-to-recycle items to the pop-up shop. (eg crisp packets, bottle tops, old watches, jewellery and mobiles) The church eco group ensures these items are recycled in an environmentally responsible way, benefitting a number of charities. These practical actions demonstrate the congregation’s conviction that caring for the environment is an essential outworking of their Christian faith. The Gold Award criteria also require the congregation to take action on a wide range of other environmental issues including bio-diversity and climate change.

    The congregation hopes to celebrate this achievement when the current restrictions allow. Please follow the Selkirk Parish Church Facebook page for the latest news and events.
    “The Gold Award challenges us all to maintain and build on the achievement!”

    Continue reading →
  • Season of Creation: Thoughts on the launch

    EcoCongregation Scotland has been preparing material for use during the ‘Season of Creation’ for some years, previously  gathered by Miriam McHardy of ACTS and my predecessor Rev Trevor Jamison. We've struggled this year, with the background of COVID, which has added to everyone's workload and stress, and we are thus all the more grateful to this year's writers who found they were able to take part after all.

    We began the project looking forward to preparations for the COP conference, which will now happen next year in Glasgow:  we have a breathing space  to work towards a fruitful use of the opportunities for prayer, and the raising of consciousness which that will bring.

    We aim to provide something which is of real use to local churches, many of whom will be using the Revised Common Lectionary,  or its close relative used by Roman Catholic congregations. 

    We’re grateful for permission to use the graphic from the Global Catholic Climate Movement this year, as we’ve very much aiming at partnership rather than competition, and the overarching theme of Jubilee for the Earth has deep biblical resonance. 

    We also welcome the initiative of Climate Sunday from Churches together in Britain and Ireland, whose launch coincides with our first ‘Sunday’.

    Our approach, quite appropriately, is encouraging and challenging, though  never prescriptive:  use these things as seems good to you and the Holy  Spirit. Work it in together with the way you do things:   between us we provide both the medicine and the spoonful of sugar to help it go down. Grab a phrase, an image, or an idea, and run off with it!  Have fun! Get carried away! See what you can get away with!

    We’re indebted to the care taken by Church of Scotland Weekly Worship in shaping their own very helpful guidelines, though, necessarily,  we go further.

    We are not  ‘filling in a gap’, but rather making space.  We bring to this task a belief, born of current and practical experience, that much of the Bible can immediately  be read, with integrity, in a way which highlights the rootedness of our faith in the partnership of God with Creation - variously described as ‘covenant’, in which human beings have a vital part to play, though by no means the only part. We are, as Pope Francis has said, “ruled” by the Earth.

    I’ve discovered that this may require the cashing in of some reserves of daring.  We often exist in a theological  environment patrolled by what Alastair McIntosh calls “silverbacks” 

    “:Silverbacks” = older and once eminent men (as they usually are) who still pronounce with a head-of-department authority on matters  over which they’re  either out of touch, or aren’t within their field”[Riders on the Storm, published 13th August 2020 ]

    So  sometimes we need to say things  differently, which seemed long ago to be settled. But God alone is unchanging.   To be clear :we never impugn the integrity of those who came to different conclusions in a different time and context,  but we do need, most urgently, to open  wide eyes ( including our own) to the signs of these particular times,  which are not by any means exclusively, of the virus threat,  which seems, prematurely and lethally,  to block out all others.  

    The surprise for some is that no mode of churchmanship has a monopoly either on ‘climate’ issues, nor, for that matter, the problems of denial and incrementalism within our communities. We turn up  treasure  new and old.  

    Once a church, congregation or community learns to trust and read the Voice of Creation through the honesty of science, Christian commitment compels involvement. 

    I’m relieved that I’m not a ‘climate’ chaplain only, as there are so many stacked up but interweaving environmental crises, of which COVID 19 is but one.

    in our writing, we  have required the discipline of taking note, but not being overwhelmed by the crisis which has forced us online , thereby actually multiplying the scope  of our audience.

    In Bible poetry - frequently - the mountains dance, the trees clap hands, the stones (threaten to) shout aloud and  Creation groans.  Poetry is so often the most emotionally accurate way of expressing deeper truths -   without conflict with science.

    The currently renewed appreciation of the sentience of fellow creatures, brings a new depth of meaning to this imagery. We ‘hear the voice of the earth’ as never before, though we have a whole raft of wonderful ( and well-financed) strategies for ignoring, or postponing action on what that geo-prophetic voice might have to say.

    The most  obvious images ( beasts, birds, seas,  skies, soil) are not at all the only ‘creation’ themes.  As  environmental scientist Gus Speth has famously said, 

    “The  top environmental  problems are selfishness, greed and apathy”,

    Thus themes emerging from this year’s texts are as follows:

    Responsibility  ( Given our (collective)  complicity in global damage....  It is responsibility, more  than ‘control’  that God gives to our species in Genesis 1:26

    Love for neighbour (taking neighbour rather widely). There’s a very serious need to hear and be shocked by the partisan xenophobia of some of the passages; to grow beyond local parochialism to a global concern.

    ’Payback’ and revenge  vs Forgiveness = as enabling power.

    Urgency in all things: though set against  the disabling  idea of  ‘already too late’.

    Maybe forgiveness, and the experience of grace will be the key to the most effective Christian environmental witness, especially where churches have been bombarded with the demand to “do more”. 

    This last attitude is, of course, one of the errors which is killing the world with the pursuit of endless growth.

      It takes little study of the New Testament to  confirm that   Jesus’ practice was to liberate with forgiveness first,  before  evidence of changed life came to light, so  encouragement takes precedence over condemnation.

    Should it be a surprise that the best we have to offer in the state of the world today are also the best expressions of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  The sheer practicality  of making forgiveness/healing/enabling a priority  over vengefulness   shoes through.  

    If the one who sings prays twice, then the one  will also hurt twice, who insists on suffering and punishment, rather than a more ‘restorative’ sort of justice.

    Enjoy the Season, and see where the Spirit leads!

    Continue reading →
  • Book Review: Riders on the Storm, by Alastair McIntosh

    If Ian Bradley’s ‘God is Green’ is a primer for green theology, Professor Alastair McIntosh’s ‘Riders on the Storm’ is a handbook for well-informed and authoritative activism. Two hundred pages  bursting with quotable and meme-able sayings to reflect- and act – on.

    As activists and pastors, actors and prophets in this spiritual, environmental, ecumenical  movement, [EcoCongregation Scotland ] we  seldom have time or space to read every book that’s going. 

    To be practitioners, in an age  of urgency, we seldom have the luxury only to be students. Reading matter on which we can hitch a ride, without being taken for one – not even the pleasure cruise we think we’ve paid for – turns out particularly rewarding.

    With startlingly frequent permissions to ‘skim over’ this or that chapter, and an apology in the acknowledgments that this, actually quite short, book is twice its intended length, Alastair is clearly mindful of that. However, even if you think you know what you ought to know about the climate emergency ( the more pedestrian ‘climate change’ is used throughout) this small library of interwoven books will repay attention, and perhaps non-sequential  reading. “Be warned that I love few things better than moving from hard science to spiritual reflections by a Hebridean loch”.

    And it’s seriously up to date in late 2020. Great preparation for COP in Glasgow next year.

    As a public speaker,  Alastair has the charming knack of speaking with authority: irritating, independent-minded, but the twenty-three pages of meticulous notes at the back of this volume should leave you in no doubt of his rigour; why he’s hard to dismiss, and why he pulls off what others might see as the scandalous trick of combining the insightful power of science, academia, poetry and eclectic spirituality.  

     We discover why the notoriously cautious  IPCC ( Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is “an incredible organisation”,  and also how to interpret its jargon of “highly likely” “unlikely” , and so on.  We unpack the  crucial difference between emissions and concentration.  We are forced to reflect on why “Climate change denial is a waste of time, but climate change alarmism is a theft of time”.

    “My view is that if a case can’t be made without it being over-egged, either the case is not valid or those to whom it is being pitched are being spun. “The unembellished science is quite bad enough to be good enough”.  For the reader, anxious for the tide to come in of radical actions and commitment, have patience: the ninth wave is on the way! (“‘Sustainable economic growth’ . There’s an oxymoron if ever there was one”.)

    This writer has the courage to be discerningly, compassionately critical of friends and movements like Extinction Rebellion, without falling prey to the idolatry of false equivalence: 

    ““There is no substitute for balance. That said, the balance says that only by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and thereby stabilising and preferably heavily reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, can very serious future risks be averted.”

    “What if nations were to dig into their treasuries of poetry, song, literature, mythology and spirituality, and draw out oft-forgotten material..” Precisely for those who approach climate change from a faith perspective, this is excellent advice. “ “If the journey of the head looks like solar panels, heat pumps and green new deals, what of the journey of the heart?”

    Alastair  delights in myths, and values their capacity to point to truth, but is ruthlessly hard on any that are wantonly unfounded. Pseudoscience of every kind  has a bloody nose from this radical moderate who, whilst walking the walk in personal commitment, refuses to deny his- and our – complicity in a situation of threat to life and being even beyond that of warfare. “Climate will remain the most pressing  global leadership issue of our time.”  Although facts, figures, and peer-reviewed science provide a playing field, with this book, we gain  courage to assert that spiritual emptiness, the clearances of the soul, constitute  the more determinative malaise to be addressed in building resilience of community and planet. As in Pope Francis’ encyclical ‘Laudato Si’, justice for the planet is absolutely inseparable from ‘integral human development’.  Justice and ecology are near-identical siblings.

    As we each only can,  Alastair brings out of his treasure of a lifetime’s activism and study, treasures of experience which inescapably ground the crisis in our own homelands and coastlands, refuting with humour many of the denialist staples, for instance, about the small amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, comparing it to  mine but dangerous blood alcohol levels: “Our whisky is quite the best, but at 414ppm you’re banned.”

     If we might be tempted  by the ‘devil we know’, Alastair makes a point of introducing us to all the devils we need to know. Though face to face with Pacific islanders – fast becoming the go-to example of a comfortingly distant crisis –  we’re left in no doubt that, with sea-level  rises in our lifetime “ . On the beaches of  Harris and Berneray, “it’s happening before our eyes” 

    This should be the end of any Scottish complacency, any delay in pulling out “all the stops of sustainable development”.  Or of reclaiming  the wilder spiritual resources, so often born in times of trouble, that providence and love have made available to humanity.

    Hope-lessness is no valid option, nor to take refuge in pernicious narratives of the pointlessness of individual action and commitment, indeed Alastair conveys a heartfelt case for doing whatever you can, without succumbing to burnout and toxic indispensability .

    “As with the making of the proverbial stone soup, if we can all add just one ingredient, we can end up with a rich broth round the hearth”.

    Continue reading →
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