Holy Hikes

Rev. Justin, a priest in The Episcopal Church in California wrote to tell us about Holy Hikes:-  www.HolyHikes.org

It has been said “people will protect what they love.”

The idea of this ministry is simple, yet profound. Each month, we celebrate the Holy Eucharist in the context of a nature hike. At every Holy Hikes outing, instead of having a sermon we allow 10-20 minutes of silence to allow God’s Spirit who is “above all, through all, and in all” to speak to us through the beauty of our surroundings.

San-Bruno-32aHoly Hikes™ is an eco-ministry that strives to help individuals be renewed in their love-relationship with the earth, the universal church, and with their Creator.

We believe the environmental crisis today is, at its core, a broken relationship. It is a shattered relationship between the human community and the earth. There is legislation being pushed to address environmental issues and advocacy groups working to bring change to our destructive and unsustainable ways. Those are important.

History has also proven that a broken relationship is ultimately mended, not by the force of law, but rather by the slow laborious work of rebuilding that relationship. Even in the environmental movement, the earth can be subjugated and treated as just an object that we care for, rather than as a subject with which we are in relationship.

Holy Hikes calls us to relate to all of creation in a communion-centered way. Change will come with legislation and cheaper green products, but we believe transformation will come as we reestablish our communion with all of life. The Rev. Thomas Berry writes, “There is no such thing as ‘human community’ without the earth and the soil and the air and the water and all the living forms. Without these, humans do not exist. In my view, the human community and the natural world will go into the future as a single sacred community or we will both perish in the desert.”

The idea of this ministry is simple, yet profound. Each month, we celebrate the Holy Eucharist in the context of a nature hike. At every Holy Hikes outing, instead of having a sermon we allow 10-20 minutes of silence to allow God’s Spirit who is “above all, through all, and in all” to speak to us through the beauty of our surroundings.

The readings also take on new meaning and deeper significance, since so often Jesus teaches using natural imagery—birds, lilies, seeds, fields, etc.

On one recent liturgical hike, walking along the bluffs of Lands End, San Francisco, and descending from a stone labyrinth to the beach where we would conclude the Eucharist, I found myself hiking alongside eight-year-old Gabrielle. She said with an inquiring tone, “I didn’t know we could do church outside…” I talked about God’s presence being everywhere and the vision behind Holy Hikes and she exclaimed, “I think God meant for us to do church outdoors!” As it is written, “From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise.” Indeed!

We would love to see official Holy Hikes chapters and affiliate eco-ministries planted and networked together around the world and are looking for individuals interests in being a part of this new way of being church. In planting local Holy Hikes chapters, we would be able to authorize you to use our trademarked Holy Hikes name to promote your group like “Holy Hikes- Paris” or “Holy Hikes- London,” would provide you with counseling on best practices, and would offer ongoing personal support. Alternatively, if you already have an eco-ministry up and running perhaps you would be interested in joining as an affiliate ministry to pray for, promote, and support one another.

Visit www.HolyHikes.org to learn more about Holy Hikes, starting a local chapter, or becoming an affiliate ministry.   See the resources

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(Editor: See also in UK: Forest Church and the new book with resources on this topic)

 

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ARocha’s ‘Love Forests’ campaign

A Rocha’s ‘Love Forests’ campaign www.arocha.org/donateforests supports a range of activities to protect and restore endangered forests. We want to see both the people and the wildlife that rely on them thriving together.

The Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, on the Kenyan coast, is one Africa’s most important forests for wildlife. A small antelope, the weird Golden-rumped Elephant-shrew and six very rare birds, including the tiny Sokoke Scops Owl, are almost entirely confined to this forest. When A Rocha began to work here, many local people illegally felled the trees, but our long-term involvement with them is changing attitudes. Villagers now want to protect this remarkable forest for themselves and future generations.

Most of the once-extensive Huarango forests on the SE coast of Peru have been felled, but the remnants still play a major role in traditional agriculture, providing farmers and their stock with much-needed shade. Our reforestation project planted 26,000 Huarango (and other native trees) with communities in Ica over a three-year period, and we are now planting more new forests in the north of the country.

The Asian Elephant is classified as ‘Endangered’ by IUCN as their numbers have been rapidly decreasing, mainly due to the destruction and fragmentation of their forest habitats and conflicts with the expanding human population. A Rocha India has been studying the herds in Bannerghatta National Park and investigated the pattern of conflicts between elephants and farmers around the park, leading to the introduction of chilli-tobacco barriers which are helping to protect crops – and elephants.

Climate Stewards www.climatestewards.org  is part of the A Rocha network and offers voluntary carbon offsetting through tree-planting projects in Ghana. Working with A Rocha Ghana, we enable schools and local communities to plant indigenous trees which not only lock up carbon, but improve livelihoods through agro-forestry and sustainable forest products, and restore local biodiversity as new forest areas are created. Local farmer Afsha Alhadji Dramani (pictured) says she likes the cool shade on her land and is proud of what she has achieved. ‘If we were given support I would plant more trees,’ she says. ‘We have birds and butterflies. Before, the place was bare; now we have forest.’

The Climate Stewards message is about encouraging organisations and individuals to ‘reduce what you can and offset what you can’t’. Through our web-based calculator, organisations and individuals can offset any combination of flights, land travel, office heat and power and other carbon emissions. Our partners choose to offset their carbon emissions for various reasons, but many see it as part of their desire to be good stewards of the environment, and to make that clear to their partners and supporters.

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Busking for awareness

100_1611CEL members George Dow and Ruth Jarman, with her family and friends, played music and handed out CEL leaflets at the Evangelical Christian Festival, New Wine, last week.

 

Although Dave Bookless from A Rocha spoke to a packed venue earlier in the week, George, Ruth and their friends think that New Wine could say more about the earthing of our gospel and  decided to do something about it.100_1606

People walking past were very happy to take Storm of Hope and 9 ways, and we hope and pray that they will be challenged and inspired by what they read.

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CEL is recruiting green Christian communicators

Passionate about faith and environment?
Longing for a prophetic church and a sustainable world?
Then join us at the leading edge of green Christian witness.

As our work enters a new phase CEL is recruiting:

  • voluntary Editor(s) and editorial group convenor for Green Christian, our biennial magazine;
  • a paid Information Officer (5 hours a week) to be our first point of contact for enquiries.

Editor(s) and editorial group convenor for Green Christian magazine  

First issued in 1982, our magazine is CEL’s flagship publication.  It enables us to fulfil our aims in the environmental crisis to:

  • Let loose hope
  • Pioneer practical discipleship
  • Equip prophetic witness
  • Empower agents of change.

We are seeking an Editor to commission (and receive offered material), design the magazine, in the sense of what goes on what page, and to actually design the page(s). We are open to two people sharing these roles and combining their skills. In addition we need someone to convene the editorial group.

We are therefore seeking individuals to play any one or two of the following three roles, as a member of a wider editorial group, initially for the six issues to 2017:

  • Commissioning content, in collaboration with section editors
  • Production and layout, in collaboration with a designer and printer
  • Convenor of the editorial group.

Liaising with our team for web-based media, the editor(s) will work with and report to CEL’s Creative Board, will become a member of CEL, and may be invited to be a member of its Steering Committee. Further details of all three roles
In accordance with CEL’s aspiration to be a radical movement, our most creative roles, such as these, remain in the hand of committed volunteers.

Information Officer
Our advice, help and opinion is in demand from our members, non-members and representatives of churches, media and other environmental organisations.  The Information Officer is their first point of contact:

  • Responding to requests for resources or spokespersons
  • Assisting in liaison other faith and environmental groups
  • Contributing to information published by CEL.

The officer is employed 5 hours a week at £9 per hour in order to be able usually to act on queries within 24 hours. The Information Officer contract is for a year, renewable, with a six month probation period for the first year.  Full job description and person specification.

How to apply

To express an interest in any of these roles, please read the details available from the relevant link above, and send the following to secretary@christian-ecology.org.uk by the closing date of 12 October 2014:

  • Your CV (two pages would be helpful for the Information Officer role; one page is enough for editorial roles)
  • A few words to explain why you are interested in the role
  • An explanation of  how you might be able to fulfil the elements of the person specification (no more than one page for each role)

You are also welcome to send one or two examples of relevant material which you have previously written or published.

Interviews for these roles will be held in London on Saturday 25 October.  Travelling expenses can be reimbursed.

CEL is contemplating significant change over the next few years under the new name of ‘Green Christian’.  We are seeking to establish work with younger adults, foster community through a shared Way of Life, and engage with economics through our ‘Joy in Enough’ programme.  All the roles above will make a contribution to these exciting developments.

We are ordinary Christians for extraordinary times.  We do what we love.  Join us.

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EDITORIAL ROLES FOR GREEN CHRISTIAN

EDITORIAL ROLES FOR GREEN CHRISTIAN

First issued in 1982, Green Christian magazine is CEL’s flagship publication.  In the environmental crisis it enables us to fulfil our four aims to:

  • Let loose hope
  • Pioneer practical discipleship
  • Equip prophetic witness
  • Empower agents of change.

Under its outgoing editor, Chris Walton, the magazine has propagated CEL’s vision and earned widespread admiration.  As editor Chris has defined the visions for each issue, commissioned content and designed the layout in collaboration with a graphic designer.  Chris is stepping down from the role after 12 years. We are seeking an Editor to commission (and receive offered material), design the magazine, in the sense of what goes on what page, and to actually design the page(s). We are open to two people sharing these roles and combining their skills. In addition we need someone to convene the editorial group.

  • Commissioning editor, in collaboration with section editors
  • Production and layout, in collaboration with a designer and printer
  • Convenor of the editorial group.

Person specification

Please get in touch with us if you would enjoy:

  • for the commissioning and convenor roles: fostering faith commitment and critical appreciation of various Christian environmental narratives
  • for the production role: using skills of design, layout and appropriate information technology.  Skills in Indesign would be especially welcome
  • And for all roles: Being part of a team promoting a radical Christian witness to culture and politics as they affect the environment
  • helping CEL fulfil the four aims set out above
  • using imaginative written communication skills
  • working with an enthusiastic team, learning from each other and acting accountably
  • planning own use of time so that issues are published when due
  • using previous relevant experience
  • making the most of opportunities for developing the use of magazine content on social media
  • being a member of CEL.

Remember it will be a team effort, so don’t be put off if you feel you don’t entirely fulfil all of these attributes.

 

The three roles are described in more detail below.  In accordance with CEL’s ethos as a movement, our most creative work, such as this, remains in the hand of volunteers.

Commissioning 

  • Defining a vision for each issue, in collaboration with the Editorial Group
  • Where necessary, commissioning content, with advice from others
  • Providing initial evaluation and feedback on unsolicited articles in accordance with emerging theme, where necessary earmarking content for e-journal
  • Potentially, by mutual agreement, serving as a member of CEL’s Steering Committee.

Production  

  • Formatting and presentation of content for each issue in accordance with agreed vision / theme, including executive decisions on use and editing of content supplied by section editors
  • Preparation of content for conversion to print-ready artwork (which is currently done by a graphic designer over a six-week period of collaboration)

Convenor of the Editorial Group

  • Co-ordinating and chairing editorial group meetings
  • Working with others on the CEL Steering Committee to recruit to editorial roles, including for section editors
  • Generally seeing that the team works effectively and to the best of their creativity
  • Assisting with identifying emerging themes for issues.

The Editorial Group will consist of those who fulfil the forgoing roles, plus the following section editors:

  • Books – Miriam Pepper
  • Resources and media
  • CEL internal News – currently Barbara Echlin
  • Local groups – Isobel Murdoch
  • Poetry and prayer
  • Finding the Still Point feature.

HOW TO APPLY
To express an interest in any of these roles, please send the following to secretary@christian-ecology.org.uk by the closing date of 12 October 2014:
Your CV (two pages would be helpful for the Information Officer role)
A few words to explain why you are interested in the role
An explanation of how you might be able to fulfil the elements of the person specification (no more than one page for each role)

Interviews for these roles will be held in London on Saturday 25 October. Travelling expenses can be reimbursed.

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CEL INFORMATION OFFICER JOB DESCRIPTION 2015

INFORMATION OFFICER JOB DESCRIPTION 2015

Respond to requests for information, advice, resources, comments, action, advertising etc.

The communications which the Information Officer should prioritise are those which 

  • respond to members’ enquiries and requests
  • send out information from CEL to others
  • respond to invitations for CEL to provide resources, stalls, speakers, interviews or articles, especially when those requests come from members, church groups, schools, and especially local and national radio, church press, and TV
  • respond to requests, or information, from related organizations e.g. Operation Noah, A Rocha, Eco-congregation, official church bodies
  • keep a written log of requests that come in the form of email, by post and by telephone which the Information Officer judges warrant action; and a log of action taken by post, email and telephone
  • Seek help from the Secretary, or, when she/he is unavailable, other members of CEL SC, where necessary in responding to requests

Dealing with unsolicited emails

  • Default position: No action.  CEL does not need to respond to what gets sent to us. It is not the role of the Information Officer to refer enquiries or invitations to SC. It is likely that anything important will be received by members of SC anyway.
  • An exception to the above default position would be if something comes in that looks like an opportunity for CEL. In that case forward to the Secretary instead of to all SC. If in doubt on whether to respond positively the Secretary will consult the Chair.
  • When in doubt forward the message to the Secretary for decision on what to do with it.
  • We will tell our members this is our policy. If they have an organization or an event its up to them to let the Information Officer, or a member of SC, know, and to tell us that they are members when they send something in.

Other Responsibilities

  • Keep a folder of all incoming complimentary printed information from groups (e.g. Student Christian Movement, Justice and Peace Network) and bring the folder for SC members to look at and take away at SC meetings. Anything not taken at SC meeting to be recycled.
  • Keep Membership Team informed of CEL members’ changes of address, cancellations, renewals, new memberships etc.
  • Keep Web Editor informed of news of relevant national and local events for the What’s On pages
  • Keep CEL Local Groups Co-ordinator informed of news from Local Groups
  • Complete general correspondence (e.g thank you letters for donations received)
  • Keep members informed via CELink of updates from email newsletters received from specified organisations: Operation Noah, Eco-congregation, A Rocha, JRI, Local Works, GM Freeze, Live Simply, ECCR and others as advised from time to time
  • Undertake such other similar tasks as may be requested by SC

Other duties as agreed in addition to the tasks in this job description

  • Other duties may be agreed from time to time for work to be paid for on a pro rata payment basis in addition to the regular five hours per week.

CEL Steering Committee Telephone Conference Calls

  • Attendance essential

CEL Steering Committee Meetings

  • It is helpful for the Information Officer to attend SC meetings in which case travel expenses would be paid

CEL Resources

  • Store a quantity of all CEL resources (leaflets, Green Christian magazine, Storm of Hope,  etc.) so as to be able to respond to requests for small amounts of materials
  • Refer requests for larger amounts (e.g. for a stall) to Resources Officer

Write a report for Steering Committee three times a year 

  • To include requests received, actions taken, and any other activities where appropriate

Do a quarterly account of expenses for reimbursement

  • For example, for postage, stationery, telephone and broadband (a percentage of total use)

The Information Officer contract is for a year, renewable, with a six month probation period for the first year.

 

PERSON SPECIFICATION

Principal methods of assessment: CV (C); Letter of application (A); Interview (I); Written assignment (W)

Essential Desirable
  • Familiar with the environmental movement in churches and beyond (C, A, I, W)
  • Sympathy with the aims of CEL (C, A, I)
  • Able to work flexibly within the contracted hours (I)
  • Able to assess and respond resourcefully and personably to a wide variety of queries (I, W)
  • Able to work on own initiative with minimal supervision but seek advice where necessary (C, I)
  • Familiar with standard office IT software, (C, A, I)
  • Familiarity with spreadsheets (C, A. I)
  • Understanding of the role’s significance in representing and developing the reputation and effectiveness of CEL (A, I)
  • Able to identify and develop opportunities for campaigning, publicity, press and social media engagement (C, A, I, W)
  • Engaging style of written communication (A, W)

HOW TO APPLY
To express an interest in any of these roles, please send the following to secretary@christian-ecology.org.uk by the closing date of 12 October 2014:
Your CV (two pages would be helpful for the Information Officer role)
A few words to explain why you are interested in the role
An explanation of how you might be able to fulfil the elements of the person specification (no more than one page for each role)

Interviews for these roles will be held in London on Saturday 25 October. Travelling expenses can be reimbursed.

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Creation Time Worship Material for 2014 – useful in Harvest Festivals

Worship material for Creation Time 2014 now available.

Eco-Congregation Scotland has produced 

worship material for Creation Time 2014 and can found here:

www.ecocongregationscotland.org/creationtime

Creation Time runs from 1st of September to 4th of October. It is an opportunity to have special services and events about Care of the Environment.  Some of the material can be used in harvest festivals.

Eco-Congregation Scotland says:

“We have produced material for four Sundays. We hope that congregations find this useful.

The material has been written by an ecumenical group:

John Butterfield is a Methodist minister who has also worked for the United
Reformed Church. He is vice convenor of ACTS and was formerly a founding trustee
of Eco Congregation Scotland.

Trevor Jamison is the Environmental Chaplain for Eco Congregation Scotland. He is
a United Reformed Church Minister.

Richard Murray is a Lay Reader in the Scottish Episcopal Church with a
responsibility for a small rural church at All Saints, Whiterashes, a member of the
Aberdeen & Orkney diocesan Mission and Ministry Board and SEC provincial
Church in Society Committee, where he has a focus on environmental issues.

Wendy Young co-ordinates the Christian Aid worship and theology collective, the
group responsible for the worship material for the seasons and moments of the
Christian year on the Christian Aid’s website. From Northern Ireland, attends
Kelvinside Hillhead Church of Scotland church in the West End of Glasgow, brought
up in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

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Seeking Justice – Review

Seeking Justice: The Radical Compassion of Jesus, by Keith Hebden, January 2013. Circle Books, ISBN 978-1-78099-688-2, 177 pages. RRP £11.99 (paperback), £4.99 (e-book)

I am so glad I elected to review this book for CEL (I had missed its publication in 2013) because I think this is one of the most disturbing and challenging Christian books I have ever read. I say that because I found it virtually impossible to disagree with the author’s main thesis, but the implications of such agreement for my own priestly praxis are terrifying and yet irresistible. The matter is compounded by the fact that the author writes out of the integrity of his own radical commitment to praxis for justice; it is hard to disagree with someone who so manifestly preaches what he already practices. As a result, the author offers me a much needed wake-up call to rouse me out of my complacency and a metaphorical kick up the backside to motivate me to do more to work for justice and true peace.

Gradually, layer by layer, rather like peeling an onion, the author uncovers and exposes the myriad ways in which we have allowed our lives to be overlaid by an imposed sense of order and ‘normality’ that is, in fact oppressive, exploitative and unjust. Hebden offers many examples of how our choices are controlled or managed for us by ‘authority’ or ‘the powers’ and demonstrates a convincing and well-illustrated defence of non-violent resistance and of the importance of compassion as the motivating ‘force’ in opposing oppressive regimes etc.

The book is peppered with excitingly fresh interpretations and insights of many familiar biblical texts. We are given a completely fresh and imaginative interpretation of Romans 12 and 13 that convincingly sets the teaching of Paul in the stream of compassionate action for justice that is the hallmark of the teaching of Jesus.

If, like me, you find yourself increasingly frustrated and helpless in the face of the remorseless tyranny of the wretched coalition government’s betrayal of democracy and its humiliation of those who are patronisingly and insultingly denigrated as ‘the undeserving poor’ as beneath contempt you will find in this book creative and positive ways to channel that sense of frustration and turn around that sense of helplessness into positive, compassionate action. Hebden ruthlessly exposes the contradictions of Capitalism and its corrosive effect in the lives of ordinary people.

The author distils much modern insight into the social mores and societal hierarchies of life in 1st century Palestine and illustrates clearly how the actions and teaching of Jesus were carefully constructed to attack and challenge them as unjust, unequal and unfair. He successfully ‘reads between the lines’ of the minimalist Gospel accounts of, for example, the cleansing of the temple as recorded by Mark, and expands the interpretation of the narrative to bring clarity and insight to what is really going on.

Although his accounts of various protests against injustice, for example the long-standing demonstration at Aldenham against the deployment of weapons of mass destruction, or the Dalit stand against the appalling requirement that they dispose of human waste by hand, are very powerful and often moving, I was left wondering what this type of witness is actually achieving. I confess I am one of those whose convictions have never quite given me the courage to stand at the gates or join the protest march. I’ve never liked ‘processions of witness’ for that matter. So I am least qualified to make criticisms and as ever it is always easier to criticize others, but, valid as the presuppositions may be – this activity is wrong, we must therefore make our protest – I am left wondering how effective such compassionate action for justice really is; and I suppose to answer my own question, am I able to come up with a more effective alternative? My hope would be that the kind of non-violent protest that Hebden espouses is gradually having a ‘trickle-up’ effect and, complemented I trust by the activities of armchair activists like myself, will gradually cause more and more people to think about what they are doing and the ways in which their jobs, policies and politics contribute to exploitation, corruption and oppression and have a change of mind and heart. It may well be a case of ‘small is beautiful’ or rather, little and often, slowly but courageously chipping away at the assumed power of the powers and gently undermining their credibility and authority.

In point of fact Hebden answers my question to some extent in later chapters where he recognises that sometimes there is need for more up-front protest when, referring to the million people who marched in London to oppose the first Iraq War, he concluded that:

‘It was the magnificent failure of that march through London that led me to realize that traditional protest is not creative or costly enough to lead to change.’

The theme of passive resistance runs right through this gently polemical call to action to ordinary people to oppose the destructive forces that in so many hidden, deceitful and disguised ways seek to diminish and demean them. I took great heart from Hebden’s account of one example of successful passive resistance from the era of the Nazi occupation of Norway when he writes that:

‘When in 1941 the government tried to force professional bodies to join up, they met with meek refusal on all fronts. The athletics groups disbanded, unions refused and forty-three professional bodies signed an open and joint declaration against compulsory membership of the Nazi Party. This resistance was met by violent recriminations, prison sentences, and repression that triggered ‘mass resignations from the organizations and, far from weakening them, gave them new vitality’. Schools and churches joined in with their own resistance; bishops and teachers setting the example of public refusal were sacked but continued to publicly defy the Nazis, leading to a massive climbdown from the fascist regime.’

In this provocative and challenging book we at last have a passionately argued defence for a political Gospel and a political Christ that is not afraid to go behind the texts of the Gospels and Paul’s letters to draw out the power and subtlety of that attack which both Jesus and Paul make on the vested interests and powerful elites and cliques of their day. These insights are powerfully translated to the 21st century and the cry of today’s poor and marginalised, but always with a grace and a restraint that is well illustrated by this comment on a clause from the Beatitudes:

‘To be meek is not the same as to be passive. To be meek is to show restraint in one’s actions. Meekness allows for a measured and therefore more productive response to oppression. This is why Jesus said that the meek shall ‘inherit the earth’ (Matthew 5). Jesus knew that those who can restrain themselves from merely reacting to someone else’s agenda will find a way to have their hunger for justice more completely satisfied’.

Each chapter concludes with a brief set of suggestions for small groups to take further their exploration of the issues raised. I strongly and warmly recommend this book as a real treasure.

The Rev’d Canon Donald C Macdonald

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