The September issue of IN TOUCH features the first of what we hope will be a series of short presentations by active church members of our benefice showing their skills in a variety of fields. In September, Jackey Hobson writes of her artistic abilities in a variety of mediums. Below, we show not only the two mosaics featuring the rose window of Exeter Cathedral – which are also shown to be found IN TOUCH – but also her mosaic of St Andrew’s Church which was not included in that issue for reasons of space. We wish to thank Jackey for her contribution and hope you enjoy these, and maybe readers can suggest others who worship regularly in our churches whose gifts may be displayed in this way.
From time to time, it is important for us to remember that God creates the Universe before creating the Earth. God creates the Earth before creating the creatures on the Earth. God creates the creatures on the Earth before creating human beings. And God creates human beings before creating the Church.
Therefore, the purposes of God lie deep in pre-history. They do not begin with us or even with our ancient churches like this one!
“And God saw that it was good, and it was very good.” These are the familiar words from Genesis 1, expressed by the Creator at the end of the days of Creation. It is as if God admires his handiwork and it all seems pleasant and perfect.
But actually these words say something more profound.
If we consider that the word ‘good’ in English derives from the same root as ‘God’ we can repeat this sentence in a different way. “And God saw that it was godly, and it was very godly.”
In other words, we understand that the Earth is not only lovely – it is also holy. The Planet we live on is sacred and reveals the glory of the God who makes it. And this is something we need to remember in our churches – the world is God’s place, and it is in this world that the incarnation of Jesus Christ takes place.
The biblical tradition affirms that God is ‘earthy’ and that our faith is inspired by a Saviour who is ‘down to earth’.
Jesus himself reminds us of the wonder of nature – God clothes the grass of the fields and the birds of the air. The mountains and trees stand glorious as part of the divine plan.
God is the Maker and Sustainer of all that is; and all that is speaks to us of God…
Another element of this tradition recognises that we human beings may be special, but we are also part of the interconnectedness or web of all life. We cannot live without air or water or food. We need to continually relate to the land, to the seas, to the plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and microbes.
Indeed, the Bible has a special word to describe this – ‘Covenant’. This word covenant actually means a partnership or deep relationship. So, for example, the Covenant with Noah in Genesis 9 refers to God, and to people and to the living Earth. We are all interwoven in to a wondrous tapestry of life.
However, as we may be aware, that life across the world is now under threat in many ways. We have lost around 40% of our nature in the past 50 years. As habitats have become destroyed or contaminated, so populations of animal life have plummeted. This is true globally as it is here in Devon – including our endangered bees!
The quality of the air we breathe has become polluted. An estimated 50,000 people in the UK die prematurely every year due to poor air. Especially vulnerable are those with respiratory illness or who live in poor housing.
The planet’s finite resources are running out. Scientists and businesses acknowledge the concepts of ‘peak oil’, ‘peak water’, ‘peak soil’. We are consuming natural materials more rapidly than they can be replaced. We know about the ongoing loss of rainforests, lakes and wetlands. Now even rivers are disappearing in this year’s unprecedented drought around the northern hemisphere.
We also know – thanks to Blue Planet 2 – if we didn’t before than we are filling our communities and countries with plastic. And plastic is only one oil-derived product which seems to saturate our world.
Whether it’s litter in the streets or oil slicks at sea, we can see only too visibly that we live in a disposable society. We throw away 30% of our food every day. Our turnover of gadgets, appliances, mobile phones and computers is at ever increasing rates. Our desire to have the next novelty is all too enticing. But we forgot what happens to our old ‘goods’; we ignore the environmental and human costs to produce them. We dangerously break the natural cycles of absorption by our excessive greed.
And I have not yet mentioned Climate Change! Extreme weather events are not the only consequence of increasing global temperatures. Growing health problems, environmental refugees and threatened marginal communities are key international concerns. Two years ago a Melanesian woman called Louisa visited my office and told us of how her family and 500 others had been evacuated from their Pacific island because of rising sea levels. They will never return.
This list of depressing challenges could go on, but the point I wish to make is that together they constitute a major environmental or ecological crisis – and one that seems to contradict the claim that the Earth is good and of God.
In the reading from Ephesians this morning we heard how, “All beings (families) in heaven and earth receive their life from the Father or Creator.” Let us not be dismissive of the role of all creatures in God’s wider creation. Without the earthworms, we would not be here. Without all the bacteria we carry in and on our own bodies, we would not be able to live and breathe.
We are called to ‘conserve creation’ – to take care of the Earth for future generations, and to care about injustice and desecration. We are especially called to express care for the vulnerable – including those (human and non-human) exposed to pollution and waste.
This morning’s Gospel reading is set in the context of the whole created order: a mountain, a lake, bread and food, a child, some fish, green grass on the ground, a strong wind, a crowd of people… Maybe the miracle here is not just that Jesus can turn a little into a lot, as much as, together, the whole ecology of the land provides for the generosity of God. Without the different components that complete this whole picture, there can be no miracle.
It is in relationship with the Earth and her elements that amazing things can and do happen. Human activity cooperates within divine hospitality to produce a world of plenty in which all can receive equally and respectfully not waste God’s goodness.
Here too is a strong story about food surplus and a call to recycle. Here are words from Jesus about gathering up the leftovers, and to discard nothing. There should be no waste. Goodness in a poorer environment is limited and always we are to be concerned about the consequences of a greedy, wasteful world. Perhaps today we would also be encouraged to pick up our plastic bags as well as the uneaten food!
As Christians, we are people of the Resurrection and we are called to offer hope. Not only in what we expect but in things as yet unseen or unknown.
This is why Exeter is an eco-Diocese and taking action to reduce our carbon, to promote more resilient communities, and encourage less-demanding lifestyles.
Across the Diocese, we are improving the energy conservation and efficiency of our vicarages and schools. Around Devon, forty churches have carried out energy surveys of their buildings. A recent project has implemented LED floodlights at four Dartmoor churches, including some in your Benefice.
More than 400 solar panel schemes have been installed in church owned properties in the South West. We have encouraged more than a hundred churches in Devon to switch to a renewable energy supply. The Diocese has promoted electric bikes, and now electric cars, to its clergy and staff.
We have organised Lent Carbon Fasts and produced worship materials for Creationtide – the Season of Creation we mark in Church every autumn. We are developing a Living Churchyards initiative to encourage biodiversity with nesting boxes, tree planting, and even beehives. Last month we launched a Living Churchyards display available for local parishes. In October, we have a conference of eco-churches in Plymouth. And so on…
In our diocese and our county, local churches are taking action to protect the environment – with food, energy, wildlife and water projects. These are the tools of hope, and we can all use them if we will.
We can examine our lives at home to reduce our carbon footprint – cut our energy use, decrease our waste, travel in less damaging ways, support local growers and suppliers. We can continue to purchase Fairtrade products. And I am sure most of us do this in many ways.
You might like to investigate the possibility of becoming an eco-church with A Rocha and I would encourage you to pursue this and register for an award as part of your whole ministry here. Someone may like to look online as to what this entails and additionally attend our autumn Plymouth gathering.
In conclusion: Our God is earthy – the maker of all that is visible and invisible; the redeemer of us all; and the reconciler of the world. This has implications for us as people of faith. We can live differently, and in hope, and in ways that contribute to healing and replenishing a broken planet. Conserving Creation nourishes life for the future…
In the light of our faith. we can reconnect with the holiness of the Earth; we can reconnect with one another; and in doing these, reconnect with God as Creator, Son and Spirit.
At 2.10 pm on Wednesday 29th August, the bells of St Andrew’s were heard for the first time for very many months. And the following day, a change was rung with a privileged group of visitors witnessing the bellringers at work in the ringing chamber. The pictures below show the refurbished bells being delivered back to the church by the Loughborough foundry of John Taylor & Co., before being reinstalled in a brand-new bell frame in the tower.
Though this represented a major milestone, there remains much work yet to be done. Nevertheless, it can perhaps be said that THE END IS IN SIGHT! Our congratulations to Neil and several others who worked with him in this massive, and potentially dangerous, task – while we give thanks to God that no injuries have been sustained beyond a damaged finger.
The matter of funding is still very much a live issue, and events and initiatives will continue to take place until the total sum is raised. For this, see the update from The Friends of St Andrew’s below the photographs.
THE COST of this whole operation is in the region of £50,000. So far, the Friends of St Andrew’s have been able to promise £12,630 which includes a sizeable donation from the Sanctuary Lodge when they closed the Moreton Masonic Lodge. A £10,000 grant was received by the PCC, but more funds are still required.
You may donate using the Friends’ fundraising page on virginmoneygiving.com – just search for fosta. Using this enables us to claim Gift Aid on donations where UK tax may be reclaimed. Donations may also be placed in a sealed envelope for the attention of Julia Mockett (Treasurer of the Friends) and left at Moreton Information Centre. Please include a note of your name and postcode, and agreement for us to claim Gift Aid if you are a UK tax-payer as this will add an extra 25% to your donation.
For further information on the details of this operation, please contact Joe Scaife or Dave Forrest who have been working on this tirelessly. You may send them a message from the Contact form on this website.
The following letter was received in June from the Listing Co-ordinator of Historic England:
War memorial west of the Church of St Andrew, Moretonhampstead, Devon – Awarded Listed Building Status. List Entry Number: 1457158
We have taken into account all the representations made, and completed our assessment of the memorial. I am writing to inform you that having considered our recommendation, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has decided to add War memorial west of St Andrew’s Church to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. The memorial is now listed at Grade II.
Please follow the link below to download a copy of our advice report, which gives the principal reasons for this decision. The List entry for this building, together with a map, has now been published on the National Heritage List for England. This List can be accessed here.
Listing helps us to mark a building’s significance and celebrate its special architectural and historic interest. It brings specific protection so that its special interest can be properly considered in managing its future. Listing does not mean, however, that no alterations can be made – in fact in the vast majority of cases applications to make changes to a listed building are approved. Further information about listed buildings can be found on the ‘Your Home’ pages of our website.
The local planning authority will now be preparing the statutory notices required under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.
The rest of this letter concerns purely administrative matters, but the full text may be obtained from the editors of IN TOUCH – or use the CONTACT button on the website menu.
St Andrew’s has, for some time, been supplied with Communion wine by the Stellar Winery in South Africa. Stellar is a fairtrade organisation — its workforce benefits directly from sales of fairly traded wine and grapes, while the linked Stellar Foundation manages development projects designed to improve the quality of workers’ lives and benefit surrounding communities. The Winery prides itself on a product which is:
- Made from organically-grown grapes
- Ethically produced
- Fairly traded
But the Stella Winery is more than just an organic wine producer. Ever since the cellar was founded in 2000, they’ve been refining their ideas on how to create a healthy business that is environmentally, socially and ethically responsible. Their aim is to make a significant difference to the part of South Africa in which it is located.
For instance, the Stellar Foundation has funded a much-needed pair of spectacles for Hailey, a Grade 12 pupil from a nearby village. She was just about to start her exams when her original spectacles broke. She is from a very poor family who would struggle to afford a new pair. Hailey went on to pass her exams as one of the top pupils in her class. Stories like this could be multiplied.
So, when you are next at the Communion rail in a service at St Andrew’s, you can give thanks for what the Stellar Winery and the Stellar Foundation are doing to improve the lives of people in South Africa.
It is wonderful to report that giving to one of the most esteemed charities supported by the congregation at St Andrew’s for many years has achieved the highest level of giving of any other church in the Exeter Diocese!
Very well done and our special thanks to those who organise the collecting of and accounting for the gifts – Christine Walton and Brenda Jeffery. When the boxes were opened in June, the amount in them came to £680.25.
Messy Church in 2018
Messy Church is back on Tuesday, 4th September. We shall meet at 3.30 pm in the Parish Hall, with the theme Jesus’ Friends, when we hope to find out a little more about some of these people. Come and join us for fun, crafts and food before we all go home at 5.30 pm. It’s all free, but children must bring a responsible adult with them. Hope to see you there.
Next Messy Church will be on 2nd October. Make a note in your diary now!
For further details, please use the CONTACT form on this website.
Other dates for Messy Church in 2018 will be:
November 6th and December 4th.
To all visitors and holidaymakers who find themselves in Moretonhampstead at this beautiful time of year, we offer a very warm welcome. Please feel free to visit our parish church dedicated to St Andrew and to join in our worship at any of the services taking place during your stay here. You will find great warmth and a friendly welcome.
For details of all services not only in St Andrew’s but also in all churches in our benefice, please visit our website at: moretonhampsteadparishchurch.org. We look forward to seeing you!
The Children’s Society home collection boxes this summer have raised £652.05. Our profound thanks to all those who continue to support this wonderful charity.
If you would like a box in which to collect all your odd change – and you’d be surprised to see how quickly it builds into such a worthwhile amount! – then please contact Brenda on 440755, or Christine on 440717. Thank you!
Those of you who visit churches whilst on holiday or travelling will have often seen Votive Candle Stands where you may light and leave a candle as a living sign of a prayer, to cherish the memory of a loved one, to give thanks, or merely to contemplate where you are in the grand scheme of life.
There is now such an opportunity in your parish church of St Andrew; it can be found in the Lady Chapel, near the small altar on the right hand side of the Nave.
It is available for our community and visitors alike, including all who have no specific commitment to the Christian faith. If you wish, you may leave a small donation but it is by no means necessary or expected.
Each year a charity will be chosen and the whole of that year’s donations will be made to it.
For the current year it is the Amos Trust (amostrust.org).