Category Archives: Environment

Protect. Restore. Fund.

At this time of Creationtide, and on this day when hundreds of thousands are striking around the globe and taking time to protest about the way we are trashing God’s Creation, let us all take time to think about our part in defending #naturenow.

Here is a video by the amazing Greta Thunberg and the pretty amazing George Monbiot!

Creation Liturgy

The following video is made using part of the liturgy that we use at All Hallows during Creation Season.

In the Beginning

Voice 1: In the beginning, God created.

Voice 2: God spoke, and created the heavens and the earth; light and darkness, day and night; land and sea; sun, moon and stars.

And God saw that it was good.

Voice 1: In the beginning, God created.

Voice 2: God spoke, and plants grew: trees and shrubs, flowers and fruit. And God saw that it was good.

Voice 1: In the beginning, God created.

Voice 2: God spoke again, and the seas filled with fish, birds flew in the sky, and animals of all kinds roamed the earth.

And God saw that it was good.

Voice 1: In the beginning, God created.

Voice 2: God spoke, and created human beings, men, women and children, created in the image of God, given the world to care for.

God saw everything that God had made, and indeed it was very good.

Confession

But we have forgotten to care for the world.

In our mindlessness we are ravaging the earth, poisoning the air, polluting the water.

We are destroying our fellow creatures and ourselves.

God our maker, so move us by the wonder of creation

that we repent and care more deeply.

So move us to grieve the loss of life

that we learn to cherish and protect your world.

(Music used by permission: “O Radiant Dawn” by James MacMillan sung by the St Peter’s Singers on their album One Equal Music)

Sermon by Toby Parsons 1st September 2019

Notes from the sermon by Toby Parsons 1st September 2019

Creation Season (Earth)

Readings:
Psalm 139:13-16
Luke 8:22-25

Can I invite you to close your eyes, and to start forming a picture in your mind of somewhere on this earth that you find beautiful?
It might be the rugged coast of Northumberland, with long windswept beaches and an endless sea.
It might be a gentle piece of nature much nearer to home – a corner of your garden, or an open park, where you can sit and just be.
Or it might be right within the bustle of Leeds itself – or a panorama of skyscrapers in a megacity; beauty in busy-ness.
You may or may not have been there; perhaps you’ve only seen pictures.
And as you hold that image in your mind, try to see some of the detail – maybe the birds and insects that move along that windswept coast, or the ornate decoration on one of the buildings in the background. [brief pause]
If you can just hold that image in the back of your mind, we’ll return to it in a few minutes.

So, this is the start of Creation Season at All Hallows. Over the next month we’ll particularly celebrate God as Creator – the fountain of life, to use the words from the start of our Creation Season liturgy. Over four weeks, we’ll focus in turn on earth, air, water and fire as the themes for our sermons.
So today, we’re thinking about the earth – although apologies in advance for straying a little from that theme! But the earth… the incredible place God has created for us, and to which we are so fundamentally connected. One of the Hebrew words for ground or earth which is used in the book of Gensis is Adamah. The link to Adam as one of the first humans in the creation story reinforces that connection between humankind, Adam, and the earth, Adamah. We originated from the earth, and in a physical sense we’ll return to it – “dust to dust, ashes to ashes”, as we hear at funeral services.

We heard a version of the first chapter of Genesis at the start of our service today, and many will know the biblical creation story very well. Whilst most Christians today are comfortable with not taking it literally, there are many points we could draw out. We could look at the fact that God created humans last, not first. Or we could focus on the example of resting and reviewing work well done, as God did multiple times. But for now, I just wonder why it took seven days?
God didn’t rest at the end of each day because of tiredness. There wasn’t that Friday-feeling of “thank goodness it’s all over for another week”, or an exhausted flomp on the sofa. God wasn’t tired.
And it’s not that God couldn’t have summoned everything into being in one go. Creation could indeed have been described in the bible as a big bang: an explosion of God’s creative power.
Amazing. Immediate.
But instead we have a six stage journey – seven, if you include the day of rest. And perhaps we should take from that a suggestion, a reminder, that creation isn’t a single event that happens and finishes.
Later on in our service today, we’ll be invited to join in saying the affirmation of faith(1) together. The opening line of the version we use during Creation Season is “We believe that God creates all things, renews all things, and holds all things in love”. At other times of the year, our liturgy uses the phrase “We believe in God, who has created and is creating”. It’s an on-going process, not a one-off event.
As individuals, we‘ve been created – individually and specially, not accidentally. Just as the earth is the sum of so many different parts, we are each a unique combination of our skills, our personalities, our experiences. If we call to mind again that image of somewhere in the world we find beautiful, it will surely have many parts to it. Even if it’s a mighty river, it’s perhaps got a
backdrop of clear blue sky, or lush vegetation on the banks. And that’s before we get to the subtle detail – the swirling eddies, the shadows, the reflection of the sun. Whatever our image, it will be made complete by many different things, and removing one of them – even the supposed least; even the most painful, if we think now of the experiences that form us – will diminish the whole.
And so, we are individually made; our completeness being in our complexity. And to hear again the opening words of the affirmation of faith, “We believe that God creates all things, renews all things, and holds all things in love”.
If creation is a journey, a process that doesn’t stop; if we believe that God does indeed renew all things; then we haven’t just been created, but we – and the whole of humankind – are continually being re-created, renewed.
Let’s go back again to the image in our minds – the place that you find beautiful. Maybe close your eyes again, if that’s helpful. And now try to picture it if we gradually turned back time: a day; a year; a decade; a century; or right back to Jesus’s time. Depending on your image, it might be very obviously different when you get to the Victorian era, the middle ages, the time of Christ. Certainly any stamp of human activity will have changed. But it may initially feel much the same – hills or coastline would still be there. They would change, however – beaches vary with both the daily tide and the effect of the currents over the years; even rivers change their course… if my vague memories of secondary school geography are correct, a river’s course meanders in curves, which can then separate to form distinct ox-bow lakes. This leads to a part of the river that had been a swirling churning current becoming a still, calm lake. And then later in time, it perhaps rejoins the main river.
Some of the changes we see in our world are accelerated at the moment by human actions, through climate change and the abuse of our environment. Some changes will naturally happen anyhow. Whatever the cause, creation is an on-going process.
So what does that mean for each of us?

I wonder if, for most people, life is a mixture of regular, routine, repeated experiences, and the specific events that stand out much more. We might have that combination of nerves, excitement and refreshed interest when we start a new school, begin a different job, or commit to a new relationship. We don’t know at that point exactly how those steps will shape our lives in the future, although we may have a plan as to how we see things developing. But we can’t be sure what will happen, even if we do know that these are moments of creation, of new opportunity.
Some of these events won’t be positive. There are times when our individual world will be turned upside down; when an unwanted intrusion of grief, anger or hurt punctures our routine of life. Sometimes that will be in ways everyone else can see; at other times it may be much more hidden. Sometimes we’ll wonder why this should have happened to us; at other times we might devalue the pain we feel because of all the headlines of suffering we see in the world.
These events, and the potentially long and slow journey of healing that follows the most painful ones, are important moments in our very own creation story; our journey of renewal.
So where does that journey lead? If we turn back to the bible – and resist the temptation for our fingers to flick to Genesis at the mention of creation! – we can see in the gospels how Jesus himself embodied those concepts of creation and renewal.
We can read the practical accounts (which, unusually, are found in all four gospels) of Jesus creating meals for thousands from a few loaves and fishes. We can see in many emotionally charged verses that he created excitement and fervour in the crowds. Conversely we read of Jesus calming the storm in Luke 8 – creating physical stillness and removing the disciples’ fear. And Jesus created peace around many who were troubled – think of John 8, verse 9, when Jesus is left alone with the woman caught in adultery, after her accusers have withdrawn one by one following
Jesus’s challenge to throw the first stone. John may not have said it, but you can imagine the stillness, the relief, but also the remaining pain, with Jesus waiting quietly for the woman to digest what’s just happened.
Jesus creates, in so many different ways. But even he is also renewed by God throughout his earthly life. He comes to his active ministry over time; he gradually teaches his disciples; he struggles in the garden of Gethsemane with the knowledge of his coming death (Mark 14, from verse 32). And then comes the cross, the moment when it might all have stopped; the ultimate test of destruction versus the on-going power of creation.

There are many fantastic Easter hymns, resurrection hymns, that abound with joy and promise, and I love that rejoicing on Easter Sunday. But some of the words can feel so triumphalist, so certain of victory, that they don’t always match our life experiences throughout the year.
But the middle lines of Thine Be The Glory say “Lo! Jesus meets us, Risen from the tomb; Lovingly He greets us, Scatters fear and gloom”. Again, we have the present tense – meets us, greets us, scatters fear… not once, I’d suggest, but many times throughout our lives, as part of that process of creation, re-creation, renewal. And the meeting doesn’t have to be at those massive moments, but in the routine times too – Jesus rises to greet us each and every day. And whilst the now scattered gloom probably does reform at another point in our life, Jesus will again offer to meet us there, creating and renewing.
Our affirmation of faith today starts “We believe that God creates all things, renews all things, and holds all things in love”. It concludes “We believe that with Jesus Christ we too will rise and take our place in a new creation, reconciled, restored, and renewed”. There may be a long and often painful journey before we reach that final statement, but each step – whether big or small; whether forwards, backwards or sideways; however painful – is part of our own creation story, which God writes with us, in love.

1 Affirmation of faith in Creation Season
We believe that God creates all things, renews all things, and holds all things in love. We believe Earth is a sacred place filled with God’s presence, a home for all its creatures to share. We believe that God became a man of Earth, Jesus Christ, who lived and breathed among us, suffered and died on a cross, for all human beings and for all creation, and rose again to fill all things. We believe the Spirit renews life in the world, groans together with every suffering creature, and waits with us for the whole universe to be reborn. We believe that with Jesus Christ we too will rise and take our place in a new creation, reconciled, restored, and renewed.

Sunday 1st September 2019 – Creation 1

The first Sunday of a new month and of a new season! This Sunday sees that start of Autumn and is also the start of Creation Season in the church’s liturgical year. Over the next four Sundays we will be looking at Creation under the four topics of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Toby Parsons will be leading us this Sunday as we reflect on “Earth”.

As this is the first Sunday of the month we will also be having a bring and share lunch together so do please, if possible, bring some food to share as we celebrate the abundance of God’s Creation and His love for us all.

The first day of September has also been set aside as World Day of Prayer for Creation and here is a prayer written by Pope Francis that we can use to guide our thoughts and prayers, today and throughout the year in this time of ecological and social crisis:

A Prayer for Our Earth

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe

and in the smallest of your creatures.

You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.

Pour out upon us the power of your love,

that we may protect life and beauty.

Fill us with peace, that we may live

as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

O God of the poor,

help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,

so precious in your eyes.

Bring healing to our lives,

that we may protect the world and not prey on it,

that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.

Touch the hearts

of those who look only for gain

at the expense of the poor and the earth.

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,

to be filled with awe and contemplation,

to recognize that we are profoundly united

with every creature

as we journey towards your infinite light.

We thank you for being with us each day.

Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle

for justice, love and peace.

For further prayers and resources see https://seasonofcreation.org/

Plastic Free July

Today sees the start of Plastic Free July. The aim is to encourage us to look at our lives and how we use plastic so that we can reduce the use and throw away. Plastic is a fantastic material but we often treat it as a material that we can use once and throw away without worrying about where it came from, where it goes to or the impact it has on the environment.

Why not visit the Plastic Free July website, sign up and see what a difference you can make?

Rainbow Junktion Community Free Shop

It is that time again when we sadly say farewell to students who have finished their studies here in Leeds and are moving onto pastures new. Over the time that they have lived here they have accumulated “stuff” that just won’t fit in Mum’s car, that is no longer needed or is just too embarrassing to take home!

Would you want to take this home to your parents?

In the past, much of this would have ended up in the bin but over the last few years Leeds University Union Leave Leeds Tidy have worked in partnership with Rainbow Junktion / All Hallows’ and other groups to try and prevent perfectly good “stuff” being binned. And so, this week, the Rainbow Junktion Community Free Shop is open again on Monday, Thursday and Friday from 11am to 3pm. Everything is free but you are welcome to come and have a drink or bite to eat at Rainbow Junktion Cafe on a Pay As You Feel basis – and with all those wonderful free finds you should be feeling pretty good!

Clean Air Day – Thursday 20th June

This Thursday is Clean Air Day. Leeds is one of the worst cities in the country for air pollution and it severely affects our health and the health of the natural environment around us. We can do our part in reducing air pollution. Clean Air Leeds has a web page suggesting ways that we can all help in reducing air pollution and making Leeds a more beautiful place to live.

Why not have a look and see what you can do?

PRESS RELEASE: The Time is Now, not 2045!

Press release from Green Christians 9 June 2019

Aiming to reach net-zero carbon emissions after 2025 is ‘complicit in violence’, warns Green Christian.

The charity finds the deadline of 2045 promoted by the Climate Coalition for the Mass Lobby of Parliament on 26 June 2019 ‘troubling’. Green Christian argues that in continuing to feed climate breakdown for so long the UK would cross a ‘moral threshold’ and hold future generations to ransom. They call for courageous political leadership at a time when public demand for action on the crisis is surging.

In its statement published today, Green Christian say that the disruption to the UK of aiming for net zero by 2025 will pale beside the violence to poorer nations and today’s children which is implicit in delaying it to 2045, let alone 2050. The charity says the UK has ‘no right to slough off this responsibility, and the vicious consequences of doing so, on those who have no voice and no power’.

In May 2019 the independent Climate Change Committee advised the government that it was ‘feasible’ that the UK could stop its contribution to global warming by 2050. The Climate Coalition, which is led by larger charities and civil society organisations, has shown that it can be done by 2045. The Coalitionencourages the public to lobby MPs to enshrine this deadline in law, to be brought forward ‘if the science demands swifter action’.

Green Christian argues that it is political choice, rather than scientific evidence, that determines what is ‘feasible’. Since the actions of Extinction Rebellion over the Easter period this year, there has been an upsurge in public concern on climate change, and a declaration of ‘environment and climate emergency ’ in Parliament*(See note 2). The charity argues that the mandate exists for immediate, focused, co-ordinated and equitable action across society, on a scale last mobilised in World War II.

Chair of Green Christian, Paul Bodenham, said, ‘Scientists have been warning about global warming since the 1980s. Now it’s too late to avoid making sacrificial, disruptive choices. A 2045 deadline for net-zero, let alone 2050, should trouble everyone’s conscience. With every year we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere, more lives will be lost and the risk grows of catastrophic breakdown. 

‘If the UK is serious about international leadership we must acknowledge the debt our country owes to poorer nations and to the young and unborn. The profound insecurity they now face is mainly due to the privilege, power and indifference of today’s industrialised societies, of which the UK has the longest history of all’.  

In its guidance for the Mass Lobby Green Christian advises its members to ensure MPs understand the risks of the Paris Agreement failing to limit warming to 1.5C, and ask the government to ‘identify national pathways to achieve net-zero emissions in 2025’.

Ends

Notes:

  1. Green Christian called for churches to declare a climate emergency on 29 April 2019.  Further advice for members of denominations and representatives on governing bodies is available atwww.greenchristian.org.uk/emergency.
  2. The phrase “a declaration of ‘environment and climate emergency’ in Parliament” has now been substituted for the phrase used on 9 June in the first edition of this press release, “a declaration of ‘climate and ecological emergency’ in Parliament”.
  3. Green Christian was formed in 1981 to share green insights with Christians, and Christian insights with the green movement. The charity produces resources, campaigns and events to help people relate environmental issues with their faith, and integrate environmental action into their mission.www.greenchristian.org.uk

Welcome to the second All Hallows’ Hotel

All Hallows’ now has it’s second “insect hotel” kindly made and donated to us by Purple Patch Arts with help from Hyde Park Source. We are looking forward to hosting lots of new bees and bugs!

Act on divestment

The West Yorkshire Local Government Pension Fund  (WYPF) is fuelling the climate crisis by investing over £900 million in fossil fuel companies.

All Hallows’ Church has committed to ending its own investment in fossil fuel companies and is calling on the WYPF to do the same.

You can add your voice to the Fossil Free West Yorkshire campaign by asking your councillors to support it. Find your councillors’ contact details using https://www.writetothem.com/ – then simply use the sample text below to send them an email.  Personalise your message by starting with a few lines about why climate action is important to you.

Want to take more action? Visit the Fossil Free West Yorkshire Campaign website. Or read more about the global fossil fuel divestment movement here.

Template email to councillors about fossil fuel divestment

Dear Cllr ………………

As a constituent, I want to express my concern about our council’s investments. Leeds councils, through the  West Yorkshire Pension Fund, is investing over £900 million in fossil fuel and fracking companies. These investments are driving climate change and air pollution and putting our future in danger.

My church has committed to ending all investment in fossil fuels and are congregation are very anxious for the West Yorkshire Pension Fund to do likewise. We made a short 4 minute film about why ending fossil fuel investment is important to us; you can watch it at https://bit.ly/divestAH.

As my councillor, I’m asking you to support efforts to stop the West Yorkshire Pension Fund investing in fossil fuel companies. You can do this by signing the Fossil Free West Yorkshire Pledge at https://fossilfreewypf.wordpress.com/take-action/fossil-free-pledge-forpolitician-and-political-candidates/.

To prevent catastrophic climate change, fossil fuel companies would have to keep over 80% of proven gas, oil and coal reserves in the ground. Despite this, they continue to explore for even more fossil fuel reserves. Climate change aside, ending fossil fuel investment  is important to protect our pensions from financial losses. Fossil fuel investments will soon drop in value as the low carbon transition gathers pace. They are already dragging down investment returns so it makes no sense to remain invested in this risky industry. There are better alternatives available. This briefing document for councillors discusses the case for fossil fuel divestment in more detail.

I really hope you can support much needed climate action by signing the pledge linked above. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,