A free, interactive and fun workshop to help you find new ways to reduce food waste. Coming along to this workshop could help you save as much as £460 a year (that’s the amount of food the average Scottish household throws away and much of it could have been eaten.) Come and learn some new food saving tips and help play your part in creating a cleaner, greener Scotland.
Is creation care part of your walk with God? This was the question we focused on during this year’s Refuel. We were trying to emphasize that Christians are called to care for this world that we inhabit because God loves all of his creation. He has a purpose for it all, not just for people.
We designed a brief survey as a way to encourage reflection, and to start discussion. We asked people about their environmental awareness and actions, and whether their faith had an impact on these.
Our display highlighted a host of Biblical verses about creation. We contrasted these with facts about how humans are currently treating God’s world, our impact on our environment. In the midst of these we had red and green hearts illustrating Christian responses: hope, reflect, love, pray, change, act, share and restore. Over the display hung our beautiful banner – ‘For God so loved the world’.
The combination of the display and the survey prompted good discussions with people: those attending seminars in the Moray Churches tent, others coming in to browse or for a quiet moment of prayer, and, not least, fellow stall holders. (The Moray Churches tent aimed to provide a sanctuary for prayer and reflection in the busy-ness of Refuel.)
Nearly 90% of those surveyed said their faith had an impact on their desire to protect the environment. We found that most people recycled. Many tried to reduce their plastic use and waste more generally. A few opted to travel more sustainably and reduce car use. A handful ate less meat or grew their own vegetables. Some had not linked their faith to creation care before. Several were very environmentally aware and active and wanted advice and encouragement to build creation care into the life of their church.
We appreciated the opportunity to start these conversations, hopefully planting seeds that will bear fruit in the future. This year, David Coleman from Eco-Congregation Scotland held two seminars in the Moray Churches tent. We were delighted to be able to reinforce his message with our week-long presence at Refuel – and we’re looking forward to next year!
Many thanks to the Energy Saving Trust for leading a really interesting Love Food Hate Waste workshop at Kilmartin and Ford Church, Lochgilphead on Friday afternoon (25.10.19). Everyone enjoyed the workshop and felt they came away with new tips and ideas to save on food waste. Lots of good discussion and memories of things that Mum and Granny did years ago, that are still so relevant today. Looking forward to trying it all out.
I’ve been involved with puppetry for a very long time: way back in the 80s, I was part of a European youth film movement, where my perhaps somewhat scary animated puppet films got me around to festivals in Belgium, Germany and Italy. I managed to get a small commission from the BBC for an item in the ‘Golden Oldies picture show, to accompany the Dubliners’ ‘Seven Drunken Nights’, and you can find bootleg versions still on YouTube, where the comments speculate as to who made it and how. I know it happened by being shut in a room with hot lights and a lot of plasticine for seven weeks.
Like many ministers. I’ve found it useful in what folk think of as the ‘childrens’ address slot, to bring in puppets. Not at all just for the children: they’re excellent icebreakers, and like Rod Hull’s emu, people readily accept the phenomenon of them developing a character of their own. What’s even more intriguing is that the characters a puppet exhibits are not always at all the same as their handlers.
Live action/glove puppets mean you can get a video clip together very much faster than with traditional stop-motion animation, though digital techniques also cut corners in what seems an indecent way, thinking back to when I really did have to make 25 adjustments per second. In my work with congregations, they’re even faster than that.
As environmental chaplain, my stable of puppets (- concentrating on those which are functional enough to admit an adult hand and permit some real characterisation, rather than just waving around -) has been growing. Orang-utans are there, reminding us of their plight as their habitat is eradicated for palm oil. The polar bear and the endangered, but vital bee, whales, British seabirds whose migration is vulnerable to climate. I have sheep who can be both lost and found. I have a panda on order! And the human race is represented too – by Punch and Judy! My ostrich introduces the futility of climate denial. But then I have to apologise for the groundless myth about heads in sand!
Let them run wild in a congregation for a few minutes, and you’re getting across the message about the Communion of Creation; that we share God’s beautiful planet with ‘all flesh’, in the covenant renewed in Christ’s self-giving. And it belongs, with complete appropriateness, with wonder at and love for biodiversity, gently re-defining the narrowness of our vision of the Kingdom of God. Wherever possible, I like people to keep the animals with them for the duration of the service: in sight, in mind.
There’s another, deeper and more subtle lesson, which is evident in the extreme dedication of professional puppeteers: there are skills to learn, and significant physical fitness is involved if you are providing an evening’s live show. It’s a different sort of self-giving from up-front acting.
What moved me most on a short course with a professional puppet company last year was the point at which, whilst supporting and sustaining the puppet, the handler lets go control to what has been until then a few bits of wood and/or fabric. That’s when wonders happen. Using blue-screen in films, the puppeteer is not seen, but they’re still there, giving life.
In a framework of respect and acknowledgement of personality as well as interdependence. Yes, it’s reminiscent even of when we celebrate eucharist/holy communion: we gather and provide and facilitate and enable, but the central celebration of Christianity, I would suggest, in all traditions, involves a surrender of control and determination to life beyond out own life; power beyond our power, in the wonder of relationship.
Communion is impossible without our participation, but equally impossible if we only “take back control”, which attitude is killing the Earth. The crises we’re experiencing give terrifying meaning to the concept of being ‘out of communion’.
Absolutely the greatest spiritual contribution of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si, and much other inspirational writing on faith and the environment is the recovery of the imperative of acknowledging the sentience of creatures, the personhood of the earth.
Moving in our dealings with Creation from object to subject. From ‘what’ to ‘who’.
‘Rat Rapure’ – the grown-up fable reflecting on finding your place in crisis.
Dunblane has drawn visitors for many reasons over the centuries: the complex story told by the walls and the many components of the cathedral itself is witness to this, though it’s interesting to reflect on how the evolving life of that building, in response to the changing needs of the worshipping community, slowed down with the re-roofing and restoration of the late 1800s.
The sustaining and maintenance of our built and spiritual heritage undoubtedly enriches the lives of our citizens, though the question of “how, and for whom” needs always to be there, acknowledging that ‘preservation’, as ‘keeping things exactly the same’ is a very modern and not particularly sound idea. We cannot approach history of any kind, other than through the lens of our own time, and that is something both to get used to and to celebrate.
There was also a time when the streets of Dunblane would have been full of those seeking health and wellbeing during the hydrotherapy boom. Different modes of ‘pilgrimage’ have enriched your life.
Most of my own earlier visits were due to Scottish Churches House, providing a safe place for Christians of varying traditions to encounter, challenge and befriend each other. That way of meeting has had its day, though it’s good to see the ‘oikumene’ all-in-the-same-boat symbol still on the wall.
It’s a reminder of the value of bringing together our diverse treasures of insight and experience: the spiritual biodiversity which can enrich the lives of all, and together, be a sign of hope in times of stress and worrying outlook. Ecumenism works best when we are drawn together by what we have in common, whilst seeking to value, rather than eradicate our differences. Dialogue risks that we might all come out of the experience looking a bit different ourselves, but if our trust is in God, that may be a gift, rather than a tragedy.
This latest visit was also in the context of a common vehicle of the churches, though broader than any in living memory: Eco-Congregation Scotland is a response, ( involving so far about 12% of Scottish churches,) to the many-layered and disarmingly complex environmental threats which are rapidly overtaking our planet. These alarming changes are not just in conveniently far-away and foreign places, but on our own coastlines, in the impact on the wildlife around us, and indeed, reflected in the low-key ‘mitigation’ plans of local authorities and government agencies, now compelled to be looking to a different approach from mere ‘preservation’ of historic places…such as Dunblane.
But how might churches and other faith communities respond to climate crisis? More meaningfully than might be apparent, – but most basically, by being who they are; by coming into their own as distinctive beacons of blessing in a time of threat. ‘Be alert!’ is a key New Testament message, and a lively awareness of the state of God’s Creation is a starting point for how we might live out our faith and find ourselves in partnership with many others of goodwill.
In common with many other faith traditions, Christian scriptures, and especially the New Testament, came into existence in times of threat and oppression. In quieter and more stable eras, some of the ‘wilder’ poetic spiritual responses, (which are actually beginning to ‘speak’ to people around the world today ) have in our lifetimes tended to be ‘retired’ or set aside, on a mantle shelf, though a ‘quiet life’ might sometimes lack interest. My work as environmental Chaplain, travelling to visit many and varied local congregations , suggests that the environmental crises are once more calling us to find an identity, not as powerful or determinative communities, but as partners with many others in the care of Creation, able to contribute vision and experience from what it means to be church today.
In 2016 Springburn Parish Church were awarded a grant from the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund, Keep Scotland Beautiful.
With the funds 12 raised beds, 2.4m long and 1.2m wide were made from railway sleepers and a patio was also constructed. Glasgow District Council donated five tons of compost to fill the beds.
The raised beds were mostly placed on the patio, with the remainder situated round one side of the church. In addition, apple and plum trees were planted on the grassy slope which leads down from the church. Blackcurrant, redcurrant and gooseberry bushes were planted too.
Last year blackcurrant jam and apple jelly was made to sell at the Trefoil Guild’s annual coffee morning.
This year 10lbs of apples, 4lbs of plums and 9lbs of gooseberries were picked from the growing area.
It has been a successful project involving people from the church and open to other groups beyond the church if they would like to take part.
Fullarton Connexions is the latest development of Fullarton Parish Church (Church of Scotland), originally built in 1838 as a Chapel of Ease to serve the growing harbourside population in Irvine. The buildings have been extensively renovated and remodelled to serve both the church and the wider community. Such has been the success of the project that the church decided to buy a triangular patch of woodland to the north of the site for a possible future phase of development, but in the meantime for use as a car-park extension.
A member of the church volunteers with the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT), who are the lead agency for the Irvine to Girvan Nectar Network, working with landowners to try to create a pollinator-friendly corridor for 50 miles down the Ayrshire coast. The church and SWT agreed to work together on a habitat creation project. The land had been partially cleared and surfaced for the car park, leaving 3 banks of earth around the plot, which rapidly became colonised with nettles, brambles and sticky-willy. The earth banks looked ideal for development to include bee hotels to provide suitable habitat for solitary bees and other insects, habitat which is in short supply around our towns.
SWT volunteers cleared some of the more aggressive plants from the banking and constructed two bee/bug hotel structures, which were subsequently filled by children from the church. The materials used came from local SWT reserves and from the site. An inventory was taken of the flowering plants growing in the area, including some sown earlier. More wildflower seeds were collected from around the parish and sown on the banks and surrounding area, again by the children.
The project draws favourable comments and interest from church members and visitors alike. The remaining woodland has been used as an outdoor classroom and is regarded as an asset to the congregation and a contribution to the Nectar Network. We hope it will raise awareness of the need for wild habitat and provoke thought about our place in creation and our obligations to be responsible stewards of what God has entrusted to us.