As we’ve watched the intensity of COP from afar, it’s been amazing to see how our local churches have been answering the call to create a just and sustainable world here in the Diocese of Bristol.
St Nicholas in Bristol have, in their own words, “finally!” achieved their Bronze Eco Church Award. Congratulations to them! It’s so encouraging to see churches persevering through all the complexities of re-opening after lockdown and continuing to achieve awards despite the competing pressures for time and energy.
This month at Colerne Parish Church their once-monthly children’s church, Shine, made seed bombs and hunted for pictures of the church’s wildflowers in a Harvest Festival treasure hunt. For the grown-ups there was a stall at the village Big Green Week showing how the church is adding more wildflowers to its churchyard to increase biodiversity for animals and people. Although, of course, there was also another opportunity to make some seed bombs. We’re looking forward to seeing wildflowers popping up all over Colerne.
At Wroughton: St John Baptist & St Helen, the church hall was given a new roof in September, complete with solar tiles, or ‘photovoltaic panels’. A first for a church project in the diocese, as far as we know!
The church hall isn’t listed but is in a conservation area, and when the roof needed urgent repair work, the south-facing roof was found to be ideal for solar photovoltaics. The church used this once-in-a-century opportunity to insulate the roof space and install solar tiles on the southerly face. And the tiles haven’t come far – they were manufactured in South Wales by GB-Sol Ltd.
The reaction from the community has been wholly positive, and a number commented that they previously thought solar panels had to be ugly, but they could not tell these from the surrounding slates! At least a couple of parishioners are now seriously considering installing Solar Pv at home.
This work was made possible with the help of a donation from an individual and a £20,000 grant from the Wiltshire Community Foundation Science Museum Group Wroughton Solar Park Community Benefit Fund.
St Paul’s in Clifton and St Saviour with St Mary, Cotham, were one of many parishes who made some paper prayer boats to join the Christian Aid ‘flotilla’ sailing up to COP. These formed part of an installation of similar boats from all over the country, including the Young Christian Climate Network’s boat you may have seen when the YCCN pilgrimage passed through Bristol.
The installation is accompanied by this prayer:
The world is grieving for how we treat each other.
The world is grieving for how we have misused and abused our beautiful planet.
The world is grieving for the loss of human life and the loss of countless, precious species.
The world is despairing about the false promises and empty commitments.
The world is looking to you - the current world leaders - to take urgent and immediate action to mitigate against the damage we have already caused, and are continuing to cause.
We have run out of time.â€¯ â€¯
The world is waiting...
A group from the benefice also joined the COP26 demonstration here in Bristol, adding their voices to the call for climate justice.
Finally, Katherine Bloomer is working hard as Deanery Eco Champion in North Wiltshire to share best practice across the whole deanery and create a strong a vibrant network. She shared some prayer reflections she and Revd Matt Stone created to encourage people to pray for the COP26 conference, a really fabulous example of mutual flourishing! Contact Clare Fussell for more information about Katherine's resources.
If you have any stories to share, please contact Clare Fussell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images: children making seed bombs at Colerne Parish Church – credit Karen Brzezicki; church hall solar panels at Wroughton – credit Nick Orman; members of Cotham Parish Church and St Paul's Clifton at the COP26 Bristol march – credit Morwenna White-Thomson.