Continuing the journey

Author: The Revd Alison Ball

Published on: 14 December 2021

This spring, our PCC and congregation at All Saints, Chedgrave, were delighted to discover that they had achieved a bronze eco-award.

This is a stage in a continuing journey of our small rural church, which started about three-and-a-half years ago.

In response to a statement: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children and our children’s children”, we asked ourselves two questions: “What is it that God is asking me to do today?” and “What is it that God is asking us, the Church, to do today?”

A variety of prayer prompts to do with the environment (covering churchyard, energy and atmospheric pollution, food production, our wonderful (local) world, world environment, plastic pollution and reducing plastic) led us to lament and acknowledge the problems, the scale of which we had not been really aware. It was difficult not just to throw up our hands with the enormity of the issue and despair.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)

We encouraged ourselves to think about what we can do individually and collectively, rather than what we can’t.

Inspired by an Icelandic glacier, we took an imaginary journey 100 years into the future and wrote two different postcards to ourselves from a young person in 2119: One from the perspective of what we thought the world might be like; one from what we hoped it might be like. We wondered how we would ensure that the latter was more likely.

John 10.10 “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly”. We wondered what abundant life might look like for us as individuals, as a church and as people across the world and what each group might need in order to flourish. We asked ourselves: “How does my flourishing affect that of other people?”

Two quotes from Greta Thunberg helped to focus our minds: “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes” (2018); “I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic… and act as if the house were on fire” (2019).

So what did we do in response?

We put the information out there: assemblies, sermons, village magazines, Facebook posts.

We put ourselves out there: worship outside using Sensio Divina, a New Year’s walk and reflection, Rogation Sunday prayer walks, Pet Service.

We worked on the churchyard: with youngsters from the community to make bird boxes, bee bank, hedgehog houses; with Chet Valley B-line and South Yare Conservation Trust to plant wildflower plugs. We planted free saplings from The Woodland Trust to fill gaps in our boundary hedge.

We led EcoWarriors, our holiday club, and an eco-café.

We looked at the energy footprint of our church.

We challenged ourselves and the community with eco-checklists.

We support charities with environmental interests.

All of these different actions let to us achieving the bronze Eco Church award from A Rocha. We are continuing our journey, but we’re using the eco-award to celebrate our achievement, rather than drive what we do. Our next thoughts are to look at solar panels for the roof.

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The Revd Alison Ball

Licensed clergy - Curate OLM (Ordained Local Minister), Chet Valley (Benefice)

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