Friday, 22 March 2013

Can Yorkshire Methodists be Green?

On Sunday the President of the Methodist Conference (2012/13), Rev Mark Wakelin, will be coming to preach in Burton-in-Lonsdale Methodist church near where I live. (That is if snow does not interrupt things..)   I have written him (a version of) this letter:-

Dear Rev Wakelin

I am looking forward to your visit to Burton-in-Lonsdale Methodist Church on Sunday morning, 24 March.

I would like to tell you about some green activities in this part of Yorkshire (and Lancs).

People will be coming from around the Settle Methodist Circuit. 

Including one bus from St ­John’s Methodist Church, Settle, 12 miles to the east where I am a member. Burton-in-Lonsdale must be North Yorkshire's most westerly Methodist Church. – It is only  13 miles as the crow flies to the sea at Morecambe Bay.

I am very concerned about green issues. I am a botanist and teacher.  I would like to use this letter to tell you about:-
a) Green initiatives and issues in this part of the world
b) Green projects I am involved with through Christian Ecology Link

I hope we can all share more in Caring for God’s Creation.

First, though, I would like to say how much our  house group at St John's, Settle, has been enjoying using your project Step Forward  which we started in January, and look forward to continuing after Easter..


a) Green initiatives and issues in this part of the world  

A1. Christian Ecology Link’s Conference at Leeds last Saturday
A2. Faith & Environment Events at Lancaster Methodist Church on 19-22 April
A3. Eco-House in Burton in Lonsdale
A4. Green Events at St John’s Methodist Church Settle
A5. Farming

b) Green projects I am involved with through Christian Ecology Link

B1. CEL Rainforest Fund Project – 100 churches.
B2. ECEN Church Wildlife Survey
B3. CEL’s website and What’s-on Page


a) Green initiatives & issues in this part of the world  

A1. Christian Ecology Link’s Conference at Leeds on Sat 16 March.

Leeds is 55 miles from Burton in Lonsdale. – but Leeds is the biggest city in Yorkshire

70 people attended, including several Methodists, and we had some excellent workshops

Whilst there I met a Methodist from Scotforth Methodist Church, Lancaster, Gordon Blair. He is organising a weekend "Faith and the Environment" at Scotforth Methodist Church. on 19-22 April:  which leads us to:-


A2. Faith & Environment Events at Lancaster Methodist Church on 19-22 April

Scotforth Methodist Church, Lancaster is only 16 miles from Burton in Lonsdale so may be of more interest to people in Burton.
It would be great if we could publicise that to the people who come to the service at Burton on Sunday. They have some very good speakers on the Saturday


A3. Eco-House in Burton in Lonsdale

I have some (Anglican) friends who have a very "green" house in Burton in Lonsdale. He is an engineer so interested in technical things. (with lots of meters so he can read and record the heat he is saving etc) They have a turf roof, a straw bale extra room, air cycling/heat exchange in the house; much of the house was renovated using recycled wood


A4. Green Events at St John’s Methodist Church Settle

Over the last 15 years we have had several green events at St John’s including
1) Several Wildflower Walks:,
2) A Day of Prayer about Climate Change (2009);
3) In 2001 Settle Circuit Hymn Festival had the theme “Christianity and the Environment”, and I have produced a draft book “Environment Praise” using these hymns and put several of them on CEL’s website;
4) We have had several coffee mornings to raise money for “The Rainforest Fund;
5) We have a display of CEL leaflets in the Church Foyer, and I sometimes put up displays on a board in the church hall.
6) On 2 March 2013 we had a “Fair Trade Fortnight Fun Night" in the church hall and the £110 raised was put to the Rainforest Fund”

(During this period of time the world population has increased by almost a quarter (by 1.3 billion) The population of  Yorkshire has increased by over 10%; On average about 5 native plant species will have disappeared from individual UK county wildlife lists)

A5. Farming

I haven’t mentioned anything much about farming here. The farmers need our prayers – the average age of farmers (now 59) is increasing and they often have to work alone.

This amazing website I found just now show 13 different graphs showing the crisis in British Farming

The winning hymn in the local category in the Settle Methodist Hymn competition in 2001 was about farming, by Mary Whitfield of Low Gill.

I used to have a "Wayside Pulpit" poster once which said "Farmers are Stewards of God's Creation"


b) Green projects with Christian Ecology Link

B1. CEL Rainforest Fund Project – 100 churches.

What is this Rainforest Fund I keep talking about?

As the population increases and as our demands for a higher lifestyle increase, habitats for wild animals and plants are being lost.
It is important to save what we have now for future generations.  (Inter-generational justice it can be called)
Most of us want to leave the world a better place. But haven’t you read about the pressure on whales, orang-utans, black rhino, fish?   . If we can save some wild habitat for future generations no then it will be worth it.

So at St John’s we have had “The Rainforest Fund” since 2008 and chose three charities to support – two secular charities which can “buy an acre of wildlife habitat” for £100; and the third, a Christian charity: A Rocha Ghana, which works with environmental education and with villages next to the Mole National Park Nature Reserve with sustainable projects such as bee keeping.

In 2012 CEL made this project into the “CEL 100 churches project” – We are hoping to get 100 different churches to raise (at least) £100 for the Rainforest Fund Project.

So far 12 churches have contributed – but this includes 3 repeats and Settle Spinning club – so maybe I should say so far 8 churches have contributed.  This includes one other Methodist Church (Clun) and 2 URC churches, and one Methodist Church which helped an Anglican Church

If you know of any churches that might like to take part, please do tell them.


B2: ECEN Churchyard wildlife questionnaire/ survey:  UK launch

In August 2012 I attended the European Christian Environment Network Assembly in Holland. There were 98 people from 22 different countries. I was in the Biodiversity Group. We wrote a simple questionnaire for church congregations/groups to carry out in their church.  Now we are encouraging British churches to take part: Do have a go. They are simple questions, fun for anyone to answer,  and encourage awareness and discussion.

At the CEL Conference at Leeds last week one person had waxed lyrical about his efforts to campaign to keep open the Settle Carlisle Railway Line. I realised that it was due to campaigners like him that the line had been kept open: Without the line my wheelchair using friend and I, and also two people from Appleby would not have been able to get to the conference.

By chance you see my friend and I on Settle platform the following day me in yellow waistcoat, along with another member from St John's Church) - Enjoy!

and again in Settle Square

Well, that's what we're up to in this part of Yorkshire.

And in the UK?  Here's a link from July to the question

What are UK Methodists Doing to be Greener? (July 2012)

Finally - And I've found this out since I started writing this letter - 
 both the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury mentioned protecting the environment in their inaugural sermons  !!!!! 

Looking forward to meeting you on Sunday.

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