On 30 November, the Bishops held a study day on the theme of our Eco Communities strategic priority. Anne Scott, a licensed pioneer in the diocese who helped lead the day, writes here about the highlights of the day.
We started the day by celebrating all that God has made; but this quickly led into a recognition of the damage that we, as humans, have caused the planet. We lamented the current state of the world and promised to pick up the creation mandate once again.
We were blessed by the word brought by Bishop Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich and Lead Bishop in the Church of England for the Environment. He invited us to listen to the revelations to Julian of Norwich, speaking into a time of war, political instability and pandemic over 650 years ago. His key messages were: to share a compassion for creation as Christ did on the cross; to see a need for transformation through our actions and Christ’s promises; to become rooted in prayer for the world; and to be attentive to wonder within creation.
Bishop Graham then explained current Church of England environmental initiatives, including the Anglican Communion Forest, Church of England divestment from fossil fuel companies and the Net Zero Carbon plan. He emphasised the potential for evangelism as we care for creation and, with thankful hearts, he encouraged us to complete the annual Energy Footprint Tool (part of the Parish Returns), to work with the Eco Church award scheme, and to be creative in our responses.
After a beautiful communion service in the newly reopened Cathedral, with its energy efficient underfloor heating, we heard from Andrew Quigley, Diocesan Environmental Officer. Andrew explained in more detail the visionary and prophetic Net Zero Carbon Church plan and took us through the basic route-map. (Net zero carbon routemap | The Church of England) I then had the chance to explain the process behind becoming an Eco Church (Eco Church - An A Rocha UK Project) and shared examples from around the diocese of inspirational actions which are already happening.
Each person at the Study Day was invited to write down three actions they could do now, and these were offered in worship as we all recommitted to caring for creation. These included ideas such as: register for Eco Church; find people in community to work with; change to a green energy supplier; start outdoor worship; rewilding part of the churchyard.
It was a wonderful day to see that all churches can and should be caring for God’s creation and be serving as Eco Communities