Slow Travel Part Four: Christian Environmental Conference
There was a lull in the wind last night and at 2am I got up for a comfort break, and spent some time walking around the grounds in the moonlight (slightly nervous in case I encountered a wolf). The wind came back in full force a short while later, but it was a magical experience.
Each day excellent musicians lead us in morning worship (again very international, with people from Serbia, Ukraine, USA and Ireland), with a “sermon” by different speakers. Then three plenary sessions – today (Tuesday):
Following Jesus in a Fallen World: prophetic theology with and for the discarded, by Dr Rosalee Velloso Ewell, Principal of Rdcliffe College;
A look at the science of climate change, by two European scientists – together with consequences and possible solutions;
and Tearfund speaker Helen Heather with colleague Alexander Gentsch from EU-CORD in Europe on speaking up for a just and sustainable world.
After lunch many of us trekked up the mountain for one of two walks – very hot, exceptional views, great conversations. The domaine covers 600 hectares, and is owned by a trust, and now let to A Rocha who manage it as a conference and study centre, and a nature reserve. There are also sheep and goats grazed by farmers on the land. We saw traces of boar and spotted an eagle, as well as dusty brown crickets with bright blue wings (only visible when they leap), together with ancient 1000-year-old oak trees (still visited by neo-pagans or new age adherents), holm oaks and part of a Roman road.
Workshops in the afternoon covered many topics: a Christian response to eco-anxiety; all-age creation care; a working tool for organising sustainable events; a look at oceans; demystifying Brussels and the EU; and engaging Christians in local environmental groups. Finally, after supper, late into the evening was an interactive simulation of poverty-stricken fishing people in the Philippines, trying to make a living with the odds stacked against them, including a typhoon. Very lively, good fun, and provoking much interesting reflection and discussion.