[A speech prepared but not delivered for General Synod – February 2018]
Thank you Chair
Andrew Dotchin – 208 – St Edmundsbury & Ipswich
A poet laureate once said these words about a nun pursuing the Religious Life in Felixstowe.
I hurry past a cakeshop’s tempting scones
Bound for the red brick twilight of St.John’s.
As the incumbent of ‘red-bricked’ St John’s I’m proud to report that, as far as we are able, the scones of St John’s (this rhyme really should put to bed any arguments about pronunciation) are made with organic flour and the tea is Fair Trade.
On Monday week St John’s will host the opening of Felixstowe Fairtrade Fortnight. A happy coincidence as we will also be able to rejoice that both St John’s and her daughter chapel of St Edmund’s have, been given silver eco-church awards. This is good News for our Diocese as it means we are now able to apply to become a bronze eco-Diocese, one more step in our aspiration to make Suffolk the greenest County.
To gain these awards from a Rocha was, to be honest, much more easy than we had expected.
We have a Food waste shop and a Baby clothes and kit recycling centre. We have made the Switch and use Energy Efficient bulbs and Insulation were possible. We teach regularly about the care of creation
Our Ministry Team challenged the choir, the servers, the bell ringers, and the Mothers Union, raising funds to not only twin six church and church hall toilets but also work towards sponsoring the twinning of the toilet blocks at Langer Primary Academy.
(If you need some hints and tips for your own church please pick up the EWG crib card for the care of creation from the newspaper table)
This sounds like, and is, good news. The wonder is that we weren’t able to do this sooner.
To get an award, or so we thought, would mean having to measure our carbon footprint, do a forensic survey of our utilities spending, and persuade the Men’s Breakfast Group to pass up on their fry-up.
So we, well to be honest I, gave up, and put becoming an eco-church at the bottom of the ‘To Do’ pile.
So what made us change? After all we wanted to Shrink our Footprint, the Five Marks of Mission is part of our Parish objectives, and the congregations is lousy with tree-hugging franciscans, we should have done this ages ago.
What changed was the stunning work of Sandi Barton our Diocesan Environment Officer, who knew what we wanted to do and gently nudged is to become who we are.
Just two weeks ago, knowing I was missing a few meetings because of a case of what I insist is He-manflu, she suggested that ‘now’ might be a good time to do the legwork.
It took, despite my fear of bureaucracy, less than 30 minutes for me to apply for St John’s Church and two days later an award arrived. Needless to say I very quickly repeated the process and yesterday received a Silver Award for St Edmund’s Chapel – apt as this small chapel was itself submerged during the 1953 floods that ravaged Felixstowe.
All this because we have a Diocesan Environment Officer as part of our Bishop’s Staff who called us to become who we already were and encouraged us to tell others to treasure God’s good earth.
Synod, our parish is not yet able to do all that is asked of it in this motion – especially the apparently complicated bit in paragraph (d) – but because we are a Diocese with a plan and a person leading our quest to become the greenest Diocese on the Bishop’s staff, we are answering the first call that God made on us, to help the garden grow and to keep it safe.
Each of us may not yet be able to answer all of the questions this motion asks, but that should not prevent us from doing what we can wherever we are.
I wholeheartedly support this motion.