Green and Faithful in Western Park

The first vocation that God gave to humanity was to care for Creation - and we’ve never been released from that responsibility. During Creationtide, that call feels all the more significant and is a great time to start, or expand upon, our eco-conscious endeavours.

A place for inspiration might be the Western Park Green Fair happening at St Anne’s Church Community Hall in Leicester on Saturday (30 September). Passionate about Creation care, Pioneer Curate Revd Sharon Plant and the Eco Church team have put together a jam-packed community partnership event to inform, have fun, and encourage environmentally friendly habits.

At the end of last year, Sharon and local lay minister, John, went knocking on the doors of local Western Park residents to find out what their perception of the local church was, and their attitudes towards Christian spirituality. In response to ‘what gives you joy?’ almost everyone mentioned nature, and in conversations many people touched upon being worried about climate change, the effects on future generations, and the impact of it on local nature and wildlife.

Revd Sharon says: “It seemed as though there was an appetite for such an event, and for joining together to make positive changes and support one another, so we set about organising the Green Fair.”

With much to see and get involved in on Saturday, people can expect everything from children’s crafts and upcycling, to homemade pickles, preserves, cordials and gins. There’ll be clothes swapping and apple pressing, Furoshiki wrapping tutorials and seed bomb making, with organisations on hand such as Leicester City Council, The Leicester Conservation Volunteers, Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society and Climate Action Leicester and Leicestershire. Refreshments will also be served, with an emphasis on LOAF ingredients (Local, Organic, Animal-friendly and Fair-trade) and the church will be open for prayer and reflection.

The Green Fair is an important event for Revd Sharon and St Anne’s church community as a mark of their missional work and everyday action in answering God’s call to care for Creation.

Revd Sharon explains: “My desire is to help our church members to understand what God has asked of us, to highlight where we have gone wrong in the past, to reclaim our calling to Creation care and to help the wider Church to lead the way to change.”
She continues: “Christians aren’t just getting involved with environmental care as a knee-jerk reaction to climate change – it’s something we should have always been doing. I think I’ve seen a change in the last year or so - most people now accept that we do have a problem and we need to do something about it. However, this can also lead to a feeling of despair and paralysis. This Green Fair is a way for church members to get together to do something positive.”

The fair is also a way to bring the community and wider diocese together. Revd Sharon says: “Through the fair we can pool our resources of knowledge, talents and gifts to encourage and enable each other to live more sustainably, and stand against companies, councils, government etc that make decisions and investments that we don’t support, but can’t stand against as individuals.“We also hope we can build good relationships and work together in the long-term, rather than this being a one-off or annual event, so it can become a genuine part of the whole community. The other important element is to bring a message of hope. Eventually, all of Creation will be made new - resurrected – and that’s Good News!”

Advanced in their eco credentials, St Anne’s are currently working towards their Gold A Rocha Eco Church Award and are using the day to help achieve the requirements of this higher level. Sharon explains: “One area that we’ve found more difficult is that of activism - so we're really happy that a member of Climate Action Leicester and Leicestershire will be joining us and providing an opportunity for people to join their campaign to get our local council-run Government pension schemes to divest from fossil fuel companies.”

To end the day, at 3pm, there will be an informal Harvest Festival Service on the Green. Revd Sharon says: “Lots of people have happy memories of school Harvest Festivals and/or going as parents to school, and this seems like an accessible thing that people can join in with - a bit like a nativity play. The service will be about 20 minutes long, with one or two well-known harvest hymns, a short interactive talk, and a few prayers – and everyone is welcome!”

First published on: 22nd September 2023
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