Report on Christian Ecology Link Conference 2013 Stream of Life
Deborah Tomkins writes:
On 16th March some 70 people gathered for CEL’s annual conference in the Methodist Hall at Oxford Place, central Leeds. The theme was Stream of Life: Tributaries and Trails of thanksgiving, vulnerability, and radical choice.
Our keynote speaker, Revd Philip Roderick, an Anglican priest, is not only the Director of the Quiet Garden Movement, but also the Leader of Contemplative Fire, and an Adviser in Spirituality for the Diocese of Sheffield. It was good to be reminded – amongst all our busy-ness as environmental activists – that all our actions (however good in themselves) need to spring out of God’s Love. What we choose to do may not be what God would have us do – we need to connect with God to know and understand His priorities for our environmental work and for the world.
It was also good to discover – perhaps for the first time – that environmental awareness and concern is not a new thing! Philip was able to quote from Christian writers going back to the very origins of our faith, in the earliest centuries, and of course the Old Testament is full of such references. God cares even more deeply than we do about his world. So when people challenge us that for Christians environmental action is new and unnecessary, we can point them back to the first century AD and beyond!
Philip interspersed his talk with action – of a different kind. He played us a new musical instrument, the hang or hang drum. Looking rather like a flying saucer with dimples, it is made of brass and steel and, played with the hands only, produces a wonderfully mellow sound with notes in the pentatonic scale, conducive to meditation and contemplation. He also brought with him a wooden percussion instrument – and an empty cardboard box! All used to accompany us in music and worship.
For many the most unusual aspect of the morning was being led in “body prayer” – another ancient mode of prayer which helps us to really concentrate on Who we are praying to, and lends meaning to the words. Many of us will be looking at prayer in a very new way.
After lunch – bringing our own mugs meant there was hardly any washing up! – we were able to take part in two sets of workshops – six at a time, and mostly repeated, ranging from agriculture and food, through to action on climate change, the Eco-Congregation programme, world development and the environment, and more on spirituality with Philip Roderick. George Dow also led an “open space” session, where participants could discuss other matters not covered by the workshops.
The day was one of enormous refreshment, challenge, and hope. Conference participants left equipped with new ideas and new approaches – all in all an exciting and valuable day.
- Photos of the day by Martin Davis
- Video clips of Philip playing
- Pictures and some notes by J Allinson
- Original page on “Stream of Life”written before the conference: