Creationtide in the Parish 2023
Climate Sunday: Sunday 24th September at St Mary's
St Mary's: Harvest Festival All Age at 9.45am on 1st October
St Peter's: Harvest Festival Holy Communion at 10.30am on 1st October followed by a Bring & Share lunch at Knowl Hill VH.
Our weekly Grapevine devotional will focus on Creation Care through September. If you don’t receive it and would like to, please contact the . If you don’t use email, we will gladly put it through your door each week, at no cost to you.
A series of five Bible studies for small groups and personal reflection, now or for example in Lent. Sarah Whiteside has sent a copy to house group leaders. Copies may be downloaded free at The John Ray Initiative.
In Sonning Deanery, a series of free lectures at All Saints Church in Wokingham. Speakers include Prof Sir Brian Hoskins d Prof Chris Merchant, internationally acclaimed meterorologists. For tickets and more details... Advance booking strongly advised.
For more information on Creationtide, please visit Season of Creation
What the Bible says about our responsibility to the Earth
Psalm 24:1 proclaims that the world belongs to God. Psalm 150:6 invites every living being to praise Him. Yet as the Bible and history tell us, we humans have repeatedly gone our own way, killing more than we consume and damaging His beautiful creation in the process. We think we know it all.
The Bible tells us from its opening chapters to the final book that God gave humans responsibility over His world. He is in charge and expects us, made in His image, to cherish it. He loves His world (cosmos in John 3:16) so much that He sent that part of Himself through whom all things were created and are held together, His Son Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15-17), to rescue it by dying as a man on a cross and rising to life ('It is finished', he said). We are, Jesus said, like the tenants of a landlord.
Crucially, this brought the offer of salvation to humanity, an offer which remains open. Meanwhile, the whole of Creation has eagerly awaited the establishment of His kingdom, on earth as in heaven (Matthew 6:10), as prophesied by Isaiah.
This gives hope for the future and a responsibility to care for the beautiful, complex, interconnected wonder that is life on earth.
There is however a terrifying sting in the 'tail': the 'merchants of the earth' whose greed has damaged His world will perish (Revelation 18). We are to be happy with little and not conform to their ways (Romans 12:2).
In May 2021, our PCC agreed a public recognition of the climate emergency. You can read it here.
In July 2021, we received a silver Eco Church award from A Rocha UK.
The Eco Church scheme provides a framework for churches. A survey takes you through five key areas of church life:
Worship and teaching
- We learn the value of God's creation through teaching, prayer and worship.
- We celebrate CreationTide in September but do not limit our teaching on creation care to that.
- We have run Lent courses on creation care in 2017 and 2021, and taken part in Making COP26 Count. We must now pray for COP27.
- We have marked Climate Sunday since 2019, most recently on September 19th 2021.
Management of church buildings
- We use sustainable materials in all new building work, such as the St Mary's Church Centre.
- We audit our energy use every ten years (2010 and 2020).
- We have taken measures to reduce heat loss and upgraded our boilers.
- We are using the Energy Footprint Tool in our parish returns.
- We consume green electricity and gas.
- We have installed bike racks.
Management of land
We have conducted wildlife surveys - including plants, bugs, bats and reptiles - and this year took part in Churches Count on Nature. Five species of bat have been identified flying around St Mary's, and our south porch has been a registered natterer's bat roost (see below).
St Peter's has some relatively uncommon species such as betony, orchids, grasshoppers and dark bush crickets. We have taken BBOWT advice in managing their habitat.
In St Mary's cemetery, which is adjacent to a small nature reserve, we have added a garden of remembrance, put bat boxes onto trees and spotted woodpeckers and tree creepers.
We work to improve the biodiversity of all of our land, for example the “Let It Grow” zone in St Mary's churchyard.
Community and global engagement
- In June 2010, a talk by Sir John Houghton was the catalyst for transition initiatives in our community, including a communal orchard, two nature reserves, an Apple Day at which we ran a stand, and sessions on renewable energy at St Mary's which encouraged some residents to install solar panels.
- We manage the Mill Green conservation area adjacent to St Mary's for the benefit of the community.
- We have engaged children in Bible-based wildlife activities, for example at Knowl Hill Academy and in summer holiday clubs.
- We lead monthly rambles open to all. In July 2021, we supported the YCCN relay walk from Cornwall to Glasgow by organising a tributary to meet it as it passed through our parish.
- Globally, we support agencies that work for people and planet, primarily Tearfund, Fairtrade and, until they sadly had to close in January 2023, Traidcraft.
- We have also donated to A Rocha UK and sponsored a water borehole in Kenya through the Maasai Evangelical Alliance.
- We have been a Fairtrade Church since 1997 and provide Fairtrade coffee, tea and sugar.
- We try to minimise our use of paper in services and communications, in favour of an audio-visual system (first used in St Mary's for Sir John Houghton's talk mentioned above) and emails.
- We provide recycled toilet paper in our loos, all but one of which have automatically controlled lighting.
- We do our best to avoid single-use plastic and have Affiliate Status with Twyford Rethinks its Plastic.
On 20th July 2022, the production team of Al Jazeera's Earthrise series came to film Bishop Olivia speaking on the climate crisis to members of our church and churches nearby. It was broadcast in April 2023 as part of the fourth episode of its 2023 series "Believing in Change". You can watch it on YouTube here or on the programme's web site here. You can access other episodes at https://www.aljazeera.com/program/earthrise/
For more information about any of our initiatives, contact our Eco Church lead
Bats in the Churchyard
On Friday 28th June 2019, a family of natterer's bats roosted in our south porch. Early visitors to our flower festival saw a juvenile bat on the floor. As the pup was unable to fly, we rang the South Bucks & Berks Bat Group and on their advice placed him on a ledge of the porch, away from feet and the sun.
Rose-Ann Movsovic, a licensed handler who had run a bat survey in our land in 2018, arrived quickly and identified the species. She gave him some special milk from a little bottle, declared our porch a registered bat roost and took him to the local Bat Rescue Centre.
At 9 pm she returned with the pup in the hope of reuniting him with his mother - an operation that often fails and involved infra red lights, a video camera, iPad and bat detector. Would there be a mother and child reunion? Click the Videos tab on their Facebook page and view their video entitled "Wargrave Natterer" to find out ...
It's public access, so you won't need a Facebook account.
By October, the video had been watched over 12,000 times on their web site and shared many times all over the world !
For more information about any information on this page please click the hyperlinks and/or contact our Eco Church team lead .
Bats & lighting
Two species of bat (common pipistrelle and natterer's) roost close to St Mary's, and three more (soprano pipistrelle, noctule and long-eared) are ambient. These and daubenton's bats have been identified as ambient at Knowl Hill too.
With this is mind, it is important we think about our lighting. We need motion-detected lighting for security, but this should be arranged with bat flight paths in mind, since they avoid bright lights and glare, many species even the moon. Warm LED lighting is recommended.