The Eco-Congregation Scotland Annual Gathering 2011 took place in Bridge of Allan on 5 March 2011.
The fourth annual gathering of eco-congregations in Scotland brought around 100 delegates from all over Scotland together in the newly furbished halls of Bridge of Allan Parish Church. The programme for the day stood under the heading of ‘Our daily bread’.
To mark the 10th Anniversary of Eco-Congregation Scotland, a Celebration service took place in the morning, led by Ewan Aitken, Convener of the the Board of Directors, with the assistance of other Board and staff members, which included a sermon by Kathy Galloway , head of Christian Aid Scotland.
After the service, every congregation present at the Gathering was presented with a tree sapling
– all Scottish varities, of course (rowan, birch and bird cherry) – to give thanks for the growing movement that is eco-congregation and to continue branching out. The representatives were asked to plant the tree in their own church grounds or, if possible, to give it to another congregation and tell them about eco-congregation – to plant a new eco-congregation and continue the growth.
Isobel Stephen from Queen’s Cross Parish Church in Aberdeen, who recently passed their second Eco-Congregation Award Assessment, was then presented with their Award by Kathy Galloway.
Lunch in the Honeyman Hall (including a very nice birthday cake!) gave participants an opportunity to meet other eco-congregation representatives and exchange experiences.
In the afternoon, two sets of six workshops each were offered to the delegates:
Jon Cape offered workshops on fair trade. Following a strong response to a Stirling Methodist Church away day session on “what do you feel passionate about?”, he founded the Stirling Fair Trade Propeller Group in 2003 “to propel fair trade from the fringe to the mainstream” and has co-ordinated the group since that time. The group is now known as Fair Trade Stirling and promotes fair trade with awareness-raising and fund-raising events, talks to schools, links to fair trade producers etc. Find out more about Fair Trade Stirling and the Fair Trade Foundation.
Heather McHaffie, who works on plant conservation at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, introduced participants to biodiversity. A keen gardener, she has experience in growing native species and in wildlife gardening. For her, an essential part of having a garden is to provide a focus for both adults and children to find enjoyment both in caring for plants and observing the changing seasons. Heather has been involved with the Eco-Congregation initiative for a number of years.
Wendy Young, Christian Aid’s Churches Development Worker and Education Co-ordinator, spoke about Christian Aid’s Climate Change campaigns.
John Butterfield, one of the members of the Board, has been a Methodist minister for over 20 years and worked in town and country planning before that . His environmental awareness has continued in ministry with his involvement over the years with the Green Theology Group, Christian Ecology Link and Eco-Congregation Scotland. He completed a masters degree in environmental theology in 1993 and has recently worked with “Going Carbon Neutral Stirling” on carbon reduction in congregations and on an initiative to promote community gardens. He led workshops on “The food and farming transition – towards a post carbon food system”. Find out more about what you eat.
Maggie Birley introduced us to a wider view on Scottish Wood and local sourcing. She co-runs a community owned sawmill in Fife, which was set up because so much of the local timber is wasted while Scotland imports timber from all over the world, often with large scale devastation of natural resources.
Tamás Kodacsy told us about the development of Ökogyülekezet, a Hungarian eco-congregation approach. Together with Eszter Karsay and László Szalay, he was part of a delegation of the Reformed Church in Hungary, who visited Scotland over the Gathering weekend, to hear about Eco-Congregation Scotland’s experiences and to meet congregations.
The Eco-Congregation Scotland Annual Gathering 2011 was a successful event, which delegates and facilitators seemed to enjoy. Thank you, if you were able to participate – and if not, we hope you might be able to join us next year!
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