Here are some of the talks and workshops that I offer to Churches and other groups. All of these can be adapted to suit your requirements, or I’m very happy to put together something bespoke for you. Use the Contact form on the top menu to start the process…
During the Coronavirus pandemic, we’ve discovered new ways of doing things. I have learned that technologies such as Zoom and Youtube can open up all sorts of possibilities. I’d be very happy to discuss with you how I could participate in your event or speak to your group via the internet rather than being there in person. Just contact me!
I am a minister of the United Reformed Church, based at the Brighthelm Centre in Brighton, Sussex, with a particular brief to explore environmental thinking and action. I have over 6 years experience of working in this field with a variety of church and secular groups and activists. I have a particular interest in developing nature-focused spirituality, with experience of running nature-connection events such as forest church. To find out more about me, click on About on the top menu.
Talks on Video
Earth Church videos. Every week I post a short video (up to 3 minutes), commenting on the coming Sunday’s lectionary bible readings from a green perspective. They can be shown in church services or small groups. Preachers, study group leaders and worship leaders may find them inspiring. And – of course – they can just be watched and shared. Click here, or on the picture, to go to the Earth Church YouTube channel. Subscribe to the channel to see the latest talk when it’s posted.
One World, God’s World – a reading of a sermon exploring, at an introductory level, how Christians can act prophetically in a world in crisis
Introductory level talks and workshops
Introduction to Eco-Church
Eco-Church is an online audit tool that helps Churches consider the environmental impact of their congregational life – what they’re doing well and where there’s room for improvement. This 60-90 minute seminar explains what the scheme is and how it works, and uses case studies to show how it has benefited Churches, enhancing their discipleship and mission.
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.
Keep Calm and Save the World: how to take action without feeling guilty or burning out
In the face of the urgency of the climate crisis, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and panicked, rather than listen to your heart and find a response that will be life-giving. This workshop explores a spiritual discernment practice that helps individuals find a path of action that is true to themselves and that helps form a celebratory and supportive community in a church or other group. This practice has enabled individuals and churches to avoid the judgementalism and guilty feelings that are so common in activism, and instead engender a culture of liberty, love and joy.
The practice is generic in that it can be applied to Christian prayer or other spiritual paths. I will tailor it appropriately for your group.
This workshop can be a 45 minute presentation, a longer presentation with space for prayer, or a half day retreat including private prayer and group work.
It can very usefully be combined with a presentation and discussion of some practical ideas for making a positive difference to the environmental crisis. This would need two sessions of 45-60 minutes each, ideally with some additional time for prayer.
This video gives an introduction to the idea of making this discernment of the action you’re being called to take:
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.
Bible study seminars, based on my Creation Psalms resources, exploring Biblical spirituality for an ecological crisis. 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.
The Creation Psalms are ideally suited for quiet days and retreats, in which a short talk leads into space for private prayer, which can be guided if desired.
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.