There could hardly be a more practical programme of support for the most deprived in the world than that chosen by Bishop Libby this year. Supporting destitute and abandoned girls from the streets of Kolkata will acheive so much. Not only to rescue these vulnerable children and young adults from the risk of exploitation, sickness and malnutrition but also to educate and equip them for a future where they can contribute to the development of their communities and nurture the next generation. I have seen at first hand and know the abject circumstances from which they are being assisted. Please give generously.
Beth Honey is Pioneer Minister in the Derwent Ward and co-leader of a growing fresh expressions called Derwent Oak.
Here she describes how the seed of a simple plan has grown into a fully-fledged Christian community.
An oak tree takes a long time to grow, and in many ways, it was an excellent choice for the name of a new expression of Christian community on an outer estate.
Once it grows it is solid, stable, can last for centuries, but it takes time, and you need to give it space when you are establishing it.
Getting to know the area where you live and dwell is vital when growing a fresh expression of church.
This is not project management, but disciple-making and listening to the Holy Spirit.
What we have learned has been about getting under the skin of this place and getting to know our neighbours.
Our FX, ‘Derwent Oak’, began with a simple plan (yes, strategy is still permitted in the world of organic church life!) to see five new disciples in our initial five years, and to see the multiplication of small communities beginning to worship in ways that are natural to life here, and led by people who know the place, and could make a significant change.
What has emerged since we began in 2014 has surprised us, challenged us, tested us and brought new people to be part of Derwent Oak who have taken us beyond these initial thoughts so that we have had to learn to let go of first dreams and give them over to God.
He has consistently taught us that he is already here, in the beauty and complexity of this community of faith that he is growing.
We formed partnerships with other church and community groups on both food and mental health projects.
We are now working on community gardening and a community transport extension.
We meet to pray in a church building, as well as outdoors and in homes.
We have a central weekly gathering, which in pre-covid times met in homes, and has come to be known as ‘Together’.
Its roots were simply in sharing a cuppa, and this led to shared cooking and eating, and then into bread and wine roughly once a month.
We shared stories, reflections, prayers, and a time of planning events for our wider community to let them know that we are all loved. ‘You are loved’ has become our central and simple summary of the good news.
We have hosted bonfires, art galleries, a gig in the garden, pop up art, prayer tents, a Derwent day out across venues (that this year will be the first Derwent community event post-covid), summer youth schemes in partnership with Aspire and Derbyshire Cricket, fun days, Christmas plays and outdoor events, and through lockdown, the garden provided a focus of prayer through online requests for candles to be lit.
As Derwent Oak became more well known locally, we found that those who had had some experience of church life in the past ‘came out of the woodwork’ and asked us a little more about church.
We decided to experiment with meeting on Sundays once a month, which started just before lockdown, and hope to restart later in 2021, and this is led from the original group from Derwent Oak, with lay pioneer support.
We are also now part of a wider fellowship of churches in this part of the city, including a church plant, a thriving parish church and another fresh expression community.
We want to take our place in the mixed ecology of what is growing and to give and receive as part of that.
Through the most recent lockdown, another new group based around offering some mental health sessions online was formed, which is now growing into an online community that may well develop into an in-person community.
Along with Aspire, we also offer Walking Buddies - local residents offer to meet and walk with people as they begin to beat anxiety in emerging from lockdown.
This new group is connecting to the Diocese of Derby Greenhouse and part of that learning community across the county.
Although there’s been growth, the pandemic has hit the FX and local communities here very hard.
Almost symbolically, at the start of lockdown, we had tree surgeons working in our garden and they decimated the trees - for the health of the trees and the area, but it made us feel exposed. It felt like something like that had happened to all our work.
Now in the seventh year of the life of this fresh expression we are at the point of hosting and enabling and sharing the creative fruit of Derwent Oak, and tending and tidying unexpected growth.
Perhaps it is possible to be strong and vulnerable at the same time, to both need support and to be able to offer resource, to be in the place of death and growth at once.
That is one of the key lessons that Derwent Oak continues to teach me as a leader.
And, to always ask for help before you offer it in any community.
That we are living through an unprecedented world situation has sadly already become a cliché. But that need not distract us from the truth that people are suffering in our own communities additionally to their usual experience and in new ways, hence the Bishop’s Harvest Appeal.
Nevertheless we remain privileged both medically by NHS provision for all and socially through the welfare state, whatever their shortcomings and regardless of politics; nothing is perfect! However from a Christian perspective we must recognise that this is a global medical, social and economic pandemic and these cascading events affect many societies in far greater ways than has been or will be felt within our experience in the UK. Very many will have their lives profoundly threatened and be forced to endure much more than their usual deprivation. Others are threatened by those who would take advantage of this time to increase exploitation thus intensifying misery. These are not mere theoretical possibilities but, sadly, are already present realities.
If we in our democratic and advanced economy were not prepared for this emergency imagine what has happened in communities whose traditional way of life has already been hit by economic globalisation compounded by climate changes. Anti-Slavery.org describes how already vulnerable people are put in jeopardy. For example over a million garment workers have been laid off in Bangladesh with little or no government safety net and similar crises are unfolding in Cambodia, India and Myanmar. Such situations present huge risks, in addition to Covid-19 itself, in terms of debt bondage and people trafficking.
A further obvious example, highlighted in the latest edition of ‘Tear Times’, is the 1.5 million Syrian refugees sheltering in Lebanon, facing the pandemic and now severely affected by the crisis caused by the massive explosion disrupting life in its capital, Beirut, on the 4th of August and fire on the 10th.
This is indeed a global crisis which could be overwhelming but for Christians it should not, because we love one another and care about all who suffer, not only ‘our own’. So what should we do? A practical way to express that love might be to pray and contribute to Archbishop Welby’s recently launched ‘Together in Unity’ Covid-19 appeal for vulnerable communities across the Anglican Communion under the Anglican Alliance relief and development agency. This will support the work that Provinces are facilitating amongst some of the most deprived and vulnerable within their nations in conjunction with UNICEF, Red Cross and Mothers’ Union and many of the agencies whose logos appear below.
Investigate, pray and be generous; that will also boost your mental health and accrue many other beneficial outcomes as well!
Reflecting in Lockdown
Lockdown may have given you time to re-evaluate about what is important and how you look after yourself. Some people found the time to exercise outdoors gave some solace in the green space nearby, sharing paths and places previously overlooked.
‘There were significant impacts on nature. As the world slowed during lockdowns, there were reports of wildlife in areas normally busy with people. This was not only in urban areas; puffins on the Farne Islands are one example of wildlife thriving in a deserted national park. In the UK daily exercise of a walk or cycles ride enabled many people to connect with nature in their local area. Reduce traffic noise meant that bird song could be heard in usually busy streets and road kill declined.’
p12 ‘Covid-19 Environment, Justice and the Future’ E198 Grove
University of Derby conducted research that found nature connectionedness is as important for wellbeing as income and education (Capaldi).
What can something as simple as nature connection do in improving our mental health? In connecting to nature we improve our sense of wellbeing. If you think of your mental health as variable to each person and each situation then self-care in simple ways is something we need to practice.
‘Do not underestimate the importance of preventative work.’ Angela Kerry, Policy Officer, Derbyshire Mental Health Forum 21 July 2020.
Mental illness is not always preventable, but to prevent it we can use the 5 ways to wellbeing. Nature connection can help us- connect, be active, wonder, learn and give.
Just take the idea of wonder. We can see more shades of green than any other colour (James Wong on Twitter @Botanygeek). Is that so we can appreciate beauty in the outdoors and value everything from a landscape to a leaf?
Connecting to nature improves the quality of our lives.
Connecting with other human beings can bring perspective but so can feeling tiny as you reach a hilltop and admire the view. Perhaps we can also prevent the inclination to be ego centric and be encouraged in our caring for each other and for creation.
Nature Connectedness what can we do?
It is estimated we have 10,000 churchyards in the Church of England the land equivalent to a small National Park. If you added in private gardens and allotments, it would be bigger still.
Derby University research shows Nature Connection benefits can be measured in both adults and children.
- Notice good things in nature and write them down.
- Nature connection stuck with people 2 months later.
- We look after things we value. In children ‘noticing’ in nature gave rise to increased caring of the environment.
- Feeling better increased: people measurably perceived themselves as happier.
- Nature connection is offered as a social prescription: it works in urban environments.
- Create some good memories outdoors. Nature connection is more powerful than ‘knowing about it’ or contact, it needs to link to us emotionally and meaningfully, tying in to our compassion and aesthetics (beauty).
We treasure what we know and value.
Our beautiful world of human, animal and plant species is under threat, rising extinction of species https://www.ipbes.net/news/ipbes-global-assessment-summary-policymakers-pdf highlighted this before the pandemic. Campaigners are wanting a just return for our people and planet after lockdown.
‘Preserving terrestrial ecosystems on land, in the oceans and in our fresh watercourses, is essential for the survival of the species, including our own. Preserving biodiversity also means researching it....Knowing … will make us understand better and follow a wiser path.’ We are all Greta, chapter 12, Biodiversity.
Collecting- accumulating more and more: a selfish activity, has damaged the planet. This tendency can be funneled into identifying (and not destroying), and appreciating species. Eco church resource https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Land-How-to-Look-After-Your-Land-in-Wildlife-Friendly-Ways.pdf
Sharing our love of nature (treasuring the earth) welcoming the local public and visitors can be part of our mission. We can offer the opportunity to join in, learn, connect, sharing access to a local green space. https://www.churchofengland.org/more/church-resources/churchcare/advice-and-guidance-church-buildings/biodiversity. We can also share our findings/ photos with local organisations recording sightings.
Where there is little local public green space Sharing what we have can be of great value: we show solidarity with people facing inequality in our parishes. https://neweconomics.org/2020/05/parks-are-for-everyone
Suggestions to encourage nature connection with the need to follow current guidance to wash hands, social distance etc.
- Share your churchyard or outside space: how do people know they are welcome?
- Link your outside space to citizen science projects, sharing your sightings e.g. arocha_uk , #Wildflowerhour, #WilderDerbyshire, @BTO etc.
- Offer space on outdoor events: a walk, maintenance activity and gardening projects. Link these to the volunteer bureau or the local social prescriber at your GP.
- Share what you have seen. This has been valued by people restricted at home.
- Offer a reason to be outside: for example a downloadable treasure trail aimed at children. Caring for Gods Acre resources and training
- Share a guided walk or route description or route number on your facebook page or social media. Add a facility to lockdownloo.com or the refill app add links https://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/leisure/countryside/access/walking/walks-and-trails/walks-and-trails.aspx?page=1 or greenways https://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/leisure/countryside/access/greenways/greenways.aspx
- Wild Christian resource http://thesanctuarycentre.org/resources/creative_prayer_idea_wild_worship_field_guide.pdf
- Join in with a walking group, a rambling group or an outdoor event in a local nature reserve or park.
- Link to a local wildlife group and find ways to share your space for activities.
- Watch a film at your social zoom such as ‘project wild thing’ and start a small group discussion https://3ak4be4522es3y5i4l2cwfkx-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Lifestyle-How-to-Connect-More-with-Nature.pdf
- Have a creation time worship in the outdoors when restrictions allow it– see 'Whats Happening' section below. This year Creation time is any Sunday up to Sept 5th 2021.
Nature Connectedness research Derby University https://www.derby.ac.uk/research/centres-groups/nature-connectedness-research-group/
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust https://www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/wildlife-explorer
The Agricultural Chaplaincy team need need more volunteer chaplains to join their ecumenical team
They are ideally looking for licenced lay or ordained people from an authorising denomination and are looking to cover North and North East Derbyshire, Amber Valley, or South Derbyshire.
If you would like to know more about volunteer opportunities please contact:
Revd Alan Griggs
view the latest video or
What do we mean by vocations?
Vocation is a difficult word. It can sound to many of us like a long-term professional undertaking of several years’ duration. And for those who wish to pursue ordination, a long term commitment is certainly required. But vocations can also have a different shape if we think of them as gifts or calling.
See the helpful helpful video above - from The Fund for Theological Education
Vocations, gifts and calling
We all possess some God-given gifts. But often we don’t fully recognise how gifted we are because these gifts have been with us for a long time and it is easy to take them for granted. Or they may have been hidden in the shadows for some time. But there is in all of us something that people recognise and come to us for. And their desire to do this is acknowledgement that we have something special that they don’t see in others. In other words, they recognise our gifts.
Our unique self
The wonder of being human is our unique quality. Our unique make up comes from a combination of many factors, some that are given at birth and the rest from our life experiences, education, and the skills and gifts that we gain and develop on the spiritual journey. We are all one-offs. And therefore by the same token we all have a unique gift to offer to God.
There are a myriad of gifts and callings in the midst of all churches. We may be a practical person, good with our hands, who can get on and make and fix things. There are those with great organisational skills, whom we all turn to when an event needs arranging. There are leaders, speakers, teachers, the artistic who make the music, write, provide the artwork in the church. These are but a small sample of the commonly found gifts within most churches in addition to the more spiritually orientated gifts.
However, it’s not always easy to recognise our individual gifts until we sit down and give this some thought. And then we may find it acknowledging the real gifts that God has given us and then take these further, developing and applying them in our spiritual walk.
‘Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms’. 1 Peter 4:10
Age is no barrier
And it doesn’t matter how old you are. From young person to retired, we all have gifts to offer and can all serve. It is always good to remember that the Lord has no arms and legs in this world other than ours.
How can we discern these gifts? And how can we use them for God? After all, there are many ways. Some will be called to ordained ministry in one of its forms; some to lay ministry as a reader. For others, there will be lay roles within the church. Or others may be called to God’s work in their daily lives. What you do already may be your vocation. John van Sloten states, ‘There is no job so boring that it would disinterest God, because there is no person whom God does not love and see.’
There are a number of options available if you feel drawn to explore the subject of your gifts and calling.
1) The first stage is to give it in prayer. Here is a simple prayer to start the process:
‘Lord, help me to understand more clearly my gifts and calling. Bring the right people and situations to me to guide me in discerning a way forward. Amen.’
There are numerous other ideas to try:
2) Talk it over with others. Discernment is not a solitary process. Talk with a trusted friend, a prayer partner or spiritual accompanier if you have one, or talk with your priest. This will help to give you some idea of a general direction.
3) What are your strengths, passions and gifts? Ask yourself this question and gain the opinion of those you know. There are likely to be clues here.
4) Push doors. See what happens as you move forward with certain ideas. ‘Have a go!’
5 Keep a journal of what you are noticing.
6) Recognise that discernment is a personal and individual business. There is no foolproof process and sometimes the unexpected can be a part of the discernment journey.
The Vocations Team
The diocese has a vocations team who are there to assist individuals to discern their vocation. Look at the Diocese of Derby website and find a vocations advisor that you feel is right for you. You can then arrange to have a general informal discussion with that person, if you want to pursue the idea of vocation, and discover what that means for you.
There are Exploration Days and other relevant courses that are held from time to time in the diocese for those wishing to proceed further.
Also, check out the Church of England website on Vocations for further information
Introductory books on vocation and calling
Called or Collared – an Alternative Approach to Vocation – Francis Dewar (SPCK, 2000)
God of Surprises – Gerard W Hughes (Darton Longman and Todd Ltd, 2008)
How to Find Your Vocation- a Guide to Discovering the Work You Love – John Adair (Canterbury Press, 2002)
The Person Called You – Bill Hendricks (Moody Publishers, 2014)
Every Job a Parable – John van Sloten (Hodder and Stoughton, 2017)
Following a presentation by the Environment group at Diocesan Synod on June 2018, Synod voted unanimously to become an Eco Diocese.
The motion, proposed by Archdeacon Carol and seconded by Dr Richard Henderson-Smith, was:
"This Synod agrees to implement the process of becoming an Eco Diocese through the efforts of Parishes, Deaneries and Diocesan Officers and Offices as it moves towards applying the gospel mission of caring for God’s Earth for the sake of God’s creatures. This is agreed to be reported, shared and celebrated at Deanery and Diocesan level."
A tale of two churches: See how two churches in the Diocese have taken different approaches to going green:
To find out more, contact Stella Collishaw who coordinates the group 01332 388685 / e: Stella.Collishaw@derby.anglican.org
For more about the scheme from Arocha ....
The Church of England Transition Pathway Initiative influences companies using the weight of our collective investment including the pensions.
Choose renewable energy.
The national Fresh Expressions office has produced some very useful 3 minute guides. Topics include:
- What are fresh expressions of church
- Five reasons to start a fresh expression of church
- How to start a fresh expression of church
- How to start making disciples
- How to grow mature disciples
- Reproducing your fresh expression of church
- How to measure fruitfulness
To download a zipped folder of all the guides, click here, or go to http://freshexpressions.org.uk/resources-3/tried-and-tested-resources/.
'listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor' a warning of urgency of environmental sustainability, its impact on poverty, and the importance of global cooperation Joint statement by
The Pope, The Ecumencial Patriarch and the Archbishop of Canterbury Sept 2021.
4000 churches register with A Rocha Uk as Eco churches. Their target is to increase that to 6000!
plenty of opportunity to find out what is going on in the Church of England latest newsletter
and also Make COP Count.
Save the date: Green Showcase live 2 Nov 2021 5-6pm
Breakfast Briefings for Church Leaders
In the lead up to COP26, we are hosting a short series of breakfast briefings to help church leaders grapple with the key issues and consider the role they can play. The sessions are led by CA staff and partners.
remaining date: 26th October 8.30am - 9.30am: Voices from the global church – how our sisters and brothers are responding
Church leaders can sign up
IPCC report published (Aug 2021) shows
- It is unequivocal that human behaviour is changing the climate
- The impacts of climate change are already being felt in every region across the globe (temperate regions are not safe)
- The impacts of climate change will continue to get worse until we stop burning fossil fuel
- The longer we leave it to make change, the worse the impacts will be
1. AN INTRODUCTION TO AND OVERVIEW OF ECO CHURCH – GETTING STARTED
2. WORKING TOWARDS AN AWARD AND MAINTAINING MOMENTUM
3. WORKING TOWARDS NET ZERO CARBON
Latest Church of England environmental news bulletin and to sign up to get it for free into your inbox.
There are supporting resources for you to see on the newly developed Biodiversity pages.
Latest Green Christian news.
Churches could do more on climate change. Tearfund report with
young Christians: only 1:10 young people say churches are acting as they should.
Two thirds of young people had never heard a Sunday sermon on the issue.
Why the Climate Emergency Threatens us all, Sir James Bevan, Chief exec of the Environment Agency speaks about the resonable worst case scenario to Association of British Insurers Feb 2021.
There is a Relay from Cornwall to Glasgow, COP 26. To find out more / to offer your support along with 1000 others sign up at RELAY | YCCN. Please continue to support wriitng to your MP, sharing on social media or via Christian Aid campaign.
40 parishes in this Diocese have registered as Eco Churches. Ten have achieved awards. Eco church FAQs. 10 Dioceses have achieved Bronze Eco Diocese awards - Salisbury, Guildford, Birmingham, Winchester, Coventry and St Eds and Ipswich... To make contact to support a local church or find volunteering opportunities contact or go to find a church.
If you want a presentation to share with your PCC there is a course now live on this site in Training>Learning in Faith.
The Eco Church website has its own resources page- everything from measuring your carbon footprint, or being wildlife friendly to different types of recyclable cup available. Please contact us as you register your parish so we can be in touch about training and new resources.