Forest Church

In the 2nd of what we hope will become an annual event, 17 young people (11 from The Mint, 3 from Temple in Budleigh, and 3 from Tedburn) descended on the Exmouth Forest school for a Forest Church session themed around finding God in nature, exploring God’s creation, and re-learning how to care for and look after God’s world. Some of the young people have summarised their highlights below. [Steven and Abigail Hardiman]

 I liked exploring the place because there were many things to do around the place [San]
 Today I liked to build the den because I got to playwith my friends and experience fun teamwork [Gaang]
 At the forest church, I liked to make the bird food because it was interesting and I was looking forward to seeing the birds eat them and play in their new home. I also liked the mud kitchen and the swings because we got to meet new friends and it was really fun. [Dhul]
 We had an early start to the day [for me yay! For other people in my family boo hoo!] We drove to forest church [which was at Budleigh Salterton] but we went past the entrance because of how small it was. We had to drive round the roundabout and then turn a tight turn into a morning of brilliance. We had to make hot dogs for lunch and roasted marsh mellows and the leader made us hot chocolate. I made a lovely friend and built a den with
him and his family. [Thomas]
 We had a great time playing and exploring God through nature and learning about food webs/food chains. We also made birdfeeders to encourage wildlife into the forest. Then we finished our beautiful time with hot dogs and marsh mellows and a prayer around the fire. [Sophie]
 This was a great way to connect to God through nature, make new friends and eat some good old fashioned camp fire food! Making birdfeeders and hot dogs was an interesting change from normal worship, and I feel happy and privileged to have experienced forest church. [Dylan]
 I liked making music!!! I loved the swing!!! [Bethan]
 My favourite things were the marshmallows, the swinging hammock, the hot dog and playing with friends in the mud kitchen. [Emily]


Climate Vigils. Every 2nd Thursday of the month there is an hour–long Climate Vigil in Bedford Square, Princesshay, near the Nationwide Building Society. Drop by to show support, even if you don’t stay for the full hour. The next vigils will be on Thursday 13th July, 5–6pm, and Thursday 10th August, 5–6pm.
Ecology and Spirituality. As already advertised in Forward and elsewhere, Satish Kumar will be talking on this subject at the Mint on Thursday 6th July, starting at 6pm. More information and ticket booking (admission free):–kumar–ecology–and–spirituality/?instance_id=236.

Facing the truth God’s earth and consumerism

“If you continue to follow my teaching, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free”. So Jesus promised (John 8:31-32). The discussion at the time concerned who Jesus is and the way in which sinful lifestyles enslave us. He offers freedom, but only if we follow him fully and face the truth.

In relation to the future of planet earth the truth that matters is not merely the fact (which few any longer try to deny) that humans are knowingly changing the climate irreparably by continuing to burn fossil fuels, but its cause: our individual addiction to acquiring more material things.

So, it isn’t enough to state that the main carbon emitters, the agricultural, manufacturing, construction, electricity and transport industries, need to change to
renewable energy and sustainable sourcing. Or to claim that it is the responsibility of governments to legislate to achieve change that is both big enough and quick enough. For those big companies exist, as do small businesses that try to offer the same services in more ethical ways, in order to supply consumer demand (whilst also in many cases giving their owners and senior executives the wealth to become the
biggest consumers of all). It is excessive consumption (even when not wanton) by us and others that fuels all those industries and it is we who elect the governments that control or condone their methods. So we ourselves are doubly to blame.

Whilst the sun and the force of gravity provide the means to make all energy generation genuinely renewable and render fossil fuels obsolete, humanity would still have to face the truth that earth’s material resources are finite, and many of them once used cannot be recovered from waste. The desire to constantly buy new and more things is a threat to the whole society of planet earth quite apart from the energy required for their production.

In a much poorer society than today’s Jesus taught his followers, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth… You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:19,24). In the same vein the apostolic teaching was that, since we can take nothing more out of the world than we brought into it, we shall be content with simply enough food and clothing, whilst the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:7-10). Climate change, biodiversity loss and the continued bondage of the poor south to the consumerist demands of the north are obvious contemporary evils that illustrate that dictum.

Alongside our important decisions to amend our lifestyles by such practices as flying and driving less (or not at all), eating less meat (or none at all), and not wasting water, we need as followers of Jesus to think hard about all our purchases from houses to clothes, from phones to detergents. We humans are social creatures and our decisions do influence families, friends and neighbours. But while constantly refining our own habits to reject the rule of things we need also to be sceptical of the faulty economic ideology of ever-increasing wealth that drives us to define themselves as consumers, and so motivates manufacturers and political campaigns. Our voting habits as well as our spending habits might be challenged in the process, but we shall surely discover a new freedom from the tyranny of consumerism, through consuming only what is necessary.

Stephen Mosedale.