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16 Feb 2010

‘Churches in Transition’ Launches with a Conference

churchesitHere’s a fascinating piece from Ekklesia about the recent Churches in Transition conference in Scarborough.

“Christian Ecology Link have launched a support network for “Churches in Transition”, part of the Transition Towns movement, and has held a major national conference on the transition to low carbon lives.  At their bi-annual gathering in Scarborough this weekend, 50 participants from across the Christian spectrum came together to explore the implications of climate change and ‘peak oil’.

Churches in Transition (CiT) is a broad interdenominational alliance of people who hear the call to cut carbon emissions and prepare for increasing scarcity of oil. It was launched at the parish church at Ottery St Mary, in Devon, a Transition Town, in November 2009.  Christian Ecology Link are encouraging individuals and their churches to start an ‘ecocell’ study course in lifestyle change, and take part in online conversations and collective spiritual discipline for Lent.

Led by Sam Norton, the Rector of St Peter and St Paul in Mersea, Essex, the Scarborough conference explored the spiritual roots of sustainable Christian living. The evening entertainment included showing the films “In Transition” and “Six Degrees”; and the holding of a Low Carbon ceilidh, complete with bagpipes.

Was anyone there?  Anyone want to give us a report on how it went?

For more information you can check out Churches in Transition (CiT)’s webpage here,  Christian Ecology Link’s main website here, you can find Churches in Transition’s leaflet here and the CiT online forum here.

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.


Sam Norton
16 Feb 5:00pm

I was 🙂

If you go here there is the audio of my talk, plus my notes.

If you want a soundbite: “Transition issues are to this generation what slavery was for William Wilberforce, it is how we are being called to love our neighbour.”

Brad K.
16 Feb 11:52pm

I wonder if Churches in Transition would care for a starting challenge – every congregation look to itself to provide candles from within the membership – that is, do the bee keeping and candle making for the church.

I mean, there are all the obvious things, like addressing oil and coal burning heat sources, considering a wood burning stove, identifying firewood sources from within every congregation, insulating the heck out of every building with issues, examining all travel and personal transportation. Not to mention the attendant spiritual and depression counseling as jobs and lives transition from what has been to an unknown but different path.

Maybe a focus on choosing a mate suited to survival when there might be slimmer margins of affluence?

But for the local production, don’t overlook the ritual and celebratory candles. A second order project might be to invest in community gardens and CSA for the congregation and for those receiving social assistance, with an emphasis on window and balcony flower pot gardening information and supplies.

Kat Jones
17 Feb 8:34pm

this looks like it was really interesting, wish i could have been there. i have been thinking about these issues recently and especially around the question of looking at our accountability as individuals within churches for our own carbon emissions, rather than just looking at the impact of the church building or church activities alone.

With this in mind, and thinking of the church that i am a member of up in Glasgow, I have written a set of bible studies to help us look at our own personal responibilities as Christians in terms of cliamte change

I would be very interested in getting any feedback or comments on this if anyone gets a chance to look at them I posted them on the CRAGs website as being a member of the Glasgow CRAG got me linking the Christian and environmental sides of my life and the bible studies culminate in a CRAG-style accounting excercise for the group.

Helen Loughrey
18 Feb 7:42am

“in repsonse to Climate change and peak oil”…

Why keep mentioning just these two reasons? Ought not to forget the impact of the global economic credit crisis storm as it appears to be arriving FIRST and, for good or ill, pointing to the unfolding current economic crisis ie Great Depression 2.0 would attract more local attention to -and more widespread participation in- all your sustainable TT activities.

Joanne Poyourow
18 Feb 4:29pm

Our Los Angeles group has also done a lot in partnership with diverse communities of faith — see article and resources here

Links include our work with localizing the UN’s Millennium Development goals, as well as the info sheet we wrote for the Genesis Covenant (faith communities calling for 50% CO2 reduction in 10 years).

Brad K.
18 Feb 5:41pm

@ Helen Loughrey,

My guess is that the credit crisis is seen as inept response to climate change and peak oil, and is thus included by inference.

There might reason for not deliberately listing the economic crisis, food shortage crisis, impending saber rattling from Washingtoon, DC to Iran to Korea, et. al. (it is coming summer in the Northern hemisphere, remember, historically the time for adventures to launch). Oft times “one solution fits all” claims – even when true – are relegate to snake oil pitches, over marketed and unrealistic claims. Image management might be requiring a limit of focus to conserve organizational energy and to maintain credibility.

Lastly, crises come and go. Climate change, if veridicous, will be a generations-long event at a minimum. Peak Oil will persist until even the green-washers agree that any public energy use, even electricity, is contributing to expensive energy, until the last coal and oil and gas fired plant is retired. Again, at least generations-long in duration. Keeping a “sustainable” hazard as the motivator and underlying assumption reduces the risk of losing momentum during a brief economic recovery.

That is, the economic crisis isn’t durable enough to change lives, long term and on a global scale.

@ Kat Jones,

One other faith issue – is transport. That is, how many congregations rely on cheap, personal transport to gather, and when scheduling meetings. How many regard the gathering to worship as a regular hardship, including social and meal time, if not lodgings, in planning for meetings and worship?

One scene that comes to mind is an old John Wayne movie, “Angel and the Bad Man”, and takes place at a Quaker meeting. We miss the worship, follow up on the elders meeting and shared communal meal – with frozen pudding.

Another scene comes from a church in Minneapolis, with seldom more than 20% attendance in a grand church. Most of the congregation had moved to suburbs, or gotten older and passed away. The nearby neighborhood had changed, most of the regular attendees drove three to 15 miles, in the midst of dense urban housing (single family dwellings).

I see this latter scene as being exactly as arrogant as employers not actively involved in who they hire and where they live – and disregarding personal commute times and energy spent.

Today some congregations run school buses to gather children for faith schools. School buses are not notorious for efficiency. And that supposes that the family will arrive, if at all, by separate (private?) transport.

Should congregations and schools consolidate, to save administration costs, or should they disperse, to reduce their energy footprint in their community? I expect some of the equations resulting in one argument or the other to be changing, perhaps often, in the next decade.

Bart Anderson
18 Feb 8:03pm

Congratulations to Sam Norton and the others for getting this started.

I think religious and spiritual groups have tremendous potential, much more than most people suspect in our secular age.

They seem to have more staying power than other groups. In times of trouble, they can be a refuge and source of strength. And people often are able to hear truths in the religious context that they are unable to listen to elsewhere.

Bart Anderson
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Wendy Gabriel
26 Feb 2:43am

Hello! What a great thing to be doing, now I belong to an Interdenominational church I wish they would get moving here in Connecticut on something concerning creating a sustainable living environment!