Speaking engagements

We live in a fast-changing world. In particular, the climate is changing very quickly and this is arguably the most serious challenge humanity (not to mention plants and animals) has faced for a long time. What should Christians do about it? What does the bible say about it? It is easy to feel overwhelmed, and it is easy to find the negative messages of some environmentalists off-putting.

I am a minister of the United Reformed Church, based at the Brighthelm Centre in Brighton, Sussex. A significant part of my work is to explore how the Church can engage creatively and positively with these environmental challenges. I am happy to support churches who want to explore this for themselves, and offer a range of talks, workshops, quiet days and longer events. These are all aimed at lay people and don’t assume any scientific knowledge or theological education (but can easily be adapted for more specialist groups, e.g. ministers training days).

For churches engaging in the Eco-church process, these events would be a good enhancement, giving biblical and theological support to the practical audit work and helping to motivate church communities in a positive way to make changes and make a difference.

If you can’t see what you’re looking for, please still get in touch and discuss how I can help. I am very happy to put together a bespoke event to suit your needs, or direct you to other speakers or organisations if that’s more appropriate.

To make enquiries, please email me at minister@brighthelm.org.uk or use the Contact option on the menu above.

Introductory level talks and workshops

Faith in a Changing Climate

Gives a lay-person’s overview of the science of climate change and brings the audience up to date with the current situation. Then I look at how some themes in Christian thought can be applied to understanding the problem and to forming solutions.

Offered in three formats:

  • As a 90-minute overview talk, including discussion
  • As a half-day workshop consisting of talks, bible study and discussion
  • As a whole-day workshop including visits or presentations to find out more about how churches and others are putting environmental solutions into practice.

Earthed

A quiet day based on Psalm 148, exploring the idea of the community of creation and how we might participate in it. Short talks on themes from the psalm will lead into times of silence for reflection and prayer.

‘Earthed’ can also be offered as a residential retreat, ideally over 48 hours.

Creation Psalms

Bible study seminars looking at some of the ways in which the psalms treat ideas to do with Creation. These can be offered in various formats, from an evening looking at one psalm, to a Church weekend or residential in which a number of psalms can be explored using a variety of learning approaches.

Examples include:

Psalm 148: The Praises of the Community of Creation

Psalm 145: The kindness of God

Psalm 104: Is the universe good?

Psalm 8: Who do you think you are?

Psalm 29: Wild faith in a wild God

Psalm 136: Covenant and steadfast love

Psalm 139: Fearfully and wonderfully made

Have a look at the ‘Bible Study’ page on this website and follow the links to read the written studies that underpin these seminars.

Slightly more specialist …

Worship on the wild side

Human life is increasingly detached from the natural world, especially genuinely wild nature. Yet nature writing is increasingly popular and the Forest School movement is growing too. It seems that many are feeling the loss of connection with nature and are wanting to do something about it. What lessons are there for the church, both in terms of mission and in terms of enriching our worship, discipleship and theology? This workshop will explore this in an experiential, practical way. Topics covered will include attentiveness to nature; learning to identify a few plants and birds; ideas for incorporating creation themes into worship; and ideas for moving your prayer life outdoors.

This workshop will be best as a full-day but a half-day cut-down version can be done. It is best run outdoors, or at least with easy access to a park or woods, but I can talk through options with you.

Investing for Creation

Brighthelm was the first UK Church to disinvest from fossil fuels. This workshop draws on my experience of that and also my involvement with the charity Operation Noah, whose Bright Now campaign was Brighthelm’s inspiration. The workshop looks at issues to do with ethical investment relating to environmental concerns. There are three elements to tackling carbon emissions, each of which is important. One is the demand side, which is about how we all use energy. Another is the supply side of energy. The third is how energy is financed. There is a growing movement to withdraw investment in fossil fuel, usually called divestment, as a way of cutting support for the development of the industry. For churches, the challenge is (in the words of former UN climate head, Christiana Figueres) to align their financial assets with their spiritual assets. Do we want our money to work for the good of creation or for its harm?

This half-day or evening workshop will give church members an understanding of how the finance of fossil-fuels works and some ideas for practical action for change, from examining what their own money is financing, to lobbying church and other investors and politicians for change.

 The Small Print

In accordance with Brighthelm’s mission, I offer my services free of charge (in terms of speaking fees) to churches and other groups in Brighton and Hove, and to United Reformed Churches anywhere. In other circumstances, a donation to Brighthelm will be sought, commensurate with the type and length of event – if in doubt, please ask.

In all cases, my travel expenses should be covered. This will be by public transport where feasible, up to the cost of an open standard-class return (I will seek the cheapest option, within reason). If it is necessary to travel by car, mileage should be reimbursed at 45p per mile.

If I need to provide any equipment, costs of consumables should be reimbursed. In terms of IT equipment, I will normally bring my own laptop, but if I have to bring a projector and screen too, there will be a small charge for that in order to help defray the cost of purchase.

If I am coming a long way, or if it’s a residential event, I appreciate being fed and offered overnight accommodation.