MCENT Minutes – December

Draft Minutes for Marches Christian Environmental Network (M-CENT) meeting, Conference room, The Palace.

Thursday 7th December 2017

Present

  • Chrissie Pepler
  • Michael Bourke
  • Isabel Carter
  • Stephen Herbert
  • Mark Johnson
  • Sheila Milne
  • Sheila Royle
  • Mike Plunkett
  • Rose Jenkins
  • Mike Kneen
  • Jeff Celwyn Jones
  • Mary Oxley (minute taker)

Apologies: Ethan Scott, Simon Ross, Jean Heasman, Nick Read

Eco Church

Stephen Herbert (Finance Director for Hereford Diocese) recently met with Annie Atkins from A Rocha UK.  A Rocha are an international Christian environmental charity formed in Portugal over 30 years ago who amongst other things, are promoting ‘Eco Churches’. Their vision is ‘for churches of all denominations to care for creation as an integral part of loving their neighbours and following God faithfully. Help us bring that vision to reality by participating in Eco Church’.

Currently, there are very few churches in the UK awarded an eco status.  Stephen asked if this was something that could be promoted within the Diocese, maybe linking it in with the ‘Future Calling’ Lentern course and call to action. 

Another suggestion was a one page stewardship policy for the Diocese (along similar lines to those already existing in other dioceses). Isobel thought that the existing diocesan environmental policy written in 2006 should be updated (copy attached in email).  Mike K was aware of this policy, which had influenced decisions they had made as a church, but he felt that the Diocese no longer gave the policy enough credence.  Stephen has a copy of a similar policy made by the Diocese in Chichester, which could be used as an example for updating the Hereford policy.  Isobel also has access to 7 other examples.

Stephen was keen to offer help from the diocese, for example, by the DAC listening sympathetically to church plans that have a positive impact on the environment. Chrissie wondered if the DAC could also encourage churches to consider the environmental impact of their plans.

Stephen informed the meeting of a training event run by A Rocha UK to be held in Leicester at Holy Trinity Church on the 24th February.  It was agreed that it would be good if some representatives from MCENT attended. The following excerpt is from the A Rocha UK website:

And so on 24th February, we’ll be gathering at Holy Trinity, Leicester, to share ways of integrating care for the natural world into all of our mission. We’ll be seeing what the Bible has to say about it and finding ways to put the ideas into practical action. Bookings will open soon. But for now, save the date!”.

Ideas to present to the Bishop

Consultation with DAC

Jeff raised the wide spread problem of heating old church buildings economically and in an environmentally friendly way.  An ageing church population are often unwilling to invest in the long term for costly solutions such as photovoltaic panels/solar panels.  Mike B asked if this pressing issue could be discussed in a consultation with the DAC. Chrissie said it would be good to include Wendy Coombey in any consultations.  Access to good heating consultants was necessary according to Mike K.  Such technical details could also be included as part of a consultation with the DAC and Mike B suggested that Mike K should also be involved in any meetings.

Mike K said funding is still available for ecologically minded projects and Isobel suggested that links to possible sources of funding could be included on the MCENT website.

Publicity

Mike P suggested the sharing of campaigns/actions of other organisations such Christian Aid to encourage a ‘bottom up approach’, particularly if one person/benefice could be identified to receive and spread the information within their churches.  Mike B thought a policy of communication endorsed by the Bishop would be helpful.  Rose pointed out that churches are being encouraged to use social media so such information could be easily disseminated by this means.  Isobel thinks it is necessary to increase membership of the MCENT network to get the message out more widely.  Currently all churchwardens and PCC secretaries receive a monthly newsletter from the Diocesan offices.  However, there is no guarantee that the information within the newsletter is shared more widely.  Hence, suggested Mike B, the need for a ‘champion’ within each Benefice to be identified.  Jeff felt that the explicit blessing of the Bishop was necessary to endorse the importance of the environmental message because at the moment, Jeff feels like the church is not recognising the urgency of the issue. 

Jeff suggested that an information stand be organised for the next Spring Green Fair as in Jeff’s experience, the fair has lacked any representation from churches in the past.

An invitation for a representative from MCENT to talk about the Future Calling Lentern course at Arch Deanery meetings was accepted by Hereford but not the Ludlow Archdeanery.  It was therefore suggested that the Bishop be asked if an agenda item re the Future Calling course be included on the agenda for the joint Archdeanery meeting of rural deans taking place on Thursday 18th January.   

Launch event

Chrissie suggested that a launch event for MCENT could have the theme of linking mission with concern for our environment. Mark J asked if the timing of an event could be around that of the annual Green Energy week in Hereford in October.  Also, potentially link in with the De Koffie Pot coffee house in Hereford which host an environmental event every Wednesday evening as a way of engaging youngsters.  Isobel said that organisations like Christian Aid are willing to provide trainings free of charge to interested groups.  Stephen also said that a representative from A Rocher would be willing to come and talk to interested groups. Isobel who recently attended a Diocesan Environmental Officers conference said that 2 other DEO’s are keen to arrange a joint training event.  Could this be something to arrange for after the Green Energy Week in the autumn?

Stephen said the diocese would be happy to receive a funding request from MCENT in May/June for a launch event.

The idea of a pilgrimage was further explored.  Simon Ross led a 3-day pilgrimage in the summer as a way of integrating spirituality with the environment.  Jeff asked if it was possible to organise a pilgrimage using different churches to camp in over night.  Locals could join for prayers and provide refreshments and the pilgrimage could link the different deaneries.  The idea of promoting forest churches was also discussed.  Chrissie will contact Kathy and David of Leominster who have experience of forest churches to learn more.

The idea of arranging a number of visits for MCENT participants was offered by Mike B.  Possible venues could be Barrow School, a forest school or Jeff’s eco house.

Thy Kingdom Come Pentecostal event

The opportunity of linking in with the Thy Kingdom Come Diocesan event being held at Pentecost in Hereford Cathedral was discussed. There maybe the potential for a group from MCENT to be one of a few smaller planning groups for the event.  An activity that could be offered by MCENT is a prayer walk (maybe with a climate theme).  Both Isobel and Mike B are willing to help with the planning of this.  Mike P will attend the next meeting for Thy Kingdom Come on behalf of MCENT taking place on Thursday 14th December in Hereford to propose the idea.

Arrival of the Bishop

Chrissie summarised for the Bishop the progress of MCENT to date and thoughts for the future.  The need to make the environmental message more mainstream within our churches was emphasised.

Bishop Richard was happy for the Diocesan sustainable/environmental policy to be updated.  He also suggested that Caroline Pascoe and Neil be approached to ask for the addition of The Future Calling Lentern course on the agenda for the Rural Dean’s meeting on the 18th January.  Mike B offered to attend the meeting on behalf of MCENT.

Bishop R thought the timing of a proposed consultation on church buildings with the DAC was good.  This consultation should include both Wendy Coombey and Simon Ross.  The Bishop also endorsed the idea of integrating an MCENT focussed activity as part of the Thy Kingdom Come event.

Isobel asked Bishop R to raise the profile of environmental issues wherever possible.  Mike B suggested that an environmental contribution become a regular slot with ideas for practical actions every other month in the Diocesan mailings sent out by Catherine Cashmore.  Bishop R thought it would be appropriate to include MCENT contributions in the recently relauched on line ‘Inspire’ quarterly newsletter.  He stressed that contributions would need to be imaginative and of a good standard. Bishop R recommended meeting with Catherine to learn more about deadlines and guidelines for content.  Mike K offered himself and Ethan as coordinators of any material for possible use by Catherine in diocesan publications. Links to any publications could be included on the MCENT website.

Actions

  • Mike P to attend Thy Kingdom Come meeting on 14th December 10am at Hereford Cathedral in the Chapter room.
  • Chrissie to consult with Caroline Pascoe and Neil Patterson re inclusion of The Future Calling Course on the agenda for the rural deans meeting on January 18th.
  • Mary to circulate information about A Rocha training event in Leicester with the aim of members from MCENT to attend.
  • Mike B to attend rural deans meeting on 18th January.
  • Updating of the Diocesan sustainable/environmental policy.
  • Chrissie to approach Wendy and Simon Ross re the idea of a consultation with the DAC.
  • Chrissie, Isobel and Mary to meet with Ethan re mail chimp and e newsletter in early January with the aim of producing the first e newsletter later in January.
  • Chrissie to speak to Kathy and David re Forest Churches.
  • All to forward any email contacts for anyone who maybe interested in joining the network providing they have given their permission to do so.
  • Chrissie and Mike B to meet with Bishop R to discuss the Future Calling Lentern course.
  • Mike K and Ethan to meet with Catherine Cashmore to discuss regular MCENT contributions to diocesan mailings e.g. Inspire.
  • Mike P to source bi monthly campaigns run by other environmental organisations to promote by MCENT where appropriate.
  • Isobel to circulate a generic prayer walk that could be adapted for the Thy Kingdom Come event.
  • All to distribute MCENT leaflets wherever possible.
  • Mary to arrange to get more leaflets to Jeff.
  • All to promote and extend the MCENT network.
  • Jeff to arrange for an MCENT Information stand at the next Spring Green Fair

Next meeting Thursday 15th March at 12.30pm in Ludlow.  Please bring a contribution for a shared lunch.