From the Team Rector, The Revd Canon Paul Cubitt
There can be no escaping the environmental challenges we now face:
- On 9th August the IPCC report on climate change was published highlighting the impact of human influence on global warming.
- An inter-faith pilgrimage focusing on climate justice will be heading from Great Yarmouth to King’s Lynn from 21st – 24th August, passing through Swanton Morley, Hoe, Dereham and Beetley en route. Others will join the pilgrimage at King’s Lynn where another leg of the walk to Glasgow will start.
- The 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) meets in Glasgow from 31st October – 12 November. Climate and environmental challenges will be high up on the news agendas this autumn as we celebrate harvest.
The Bishop of Norwich wrote, “The message of today’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report is loud and clear: ‘Wake up world!’ It is time to stop playing political games and take action now. We are already seeing the effects of the climate emergency around the world – and it is the world’s economically poorest people who are already suffering the most. So, it is our moral duty and a Christian calling to do all we can to try to turn the tide.
In just a few months at COP26 there will be an opportunity to act, our leaders must seize this moment and deliver real and impactful change for the future of God’s creation. We don’t have a spare Earth – this is our precious home.”
In September and October Dereham & District Team Ministry churches will be holding Harvest Festival Services.
5th September St Nicholas, Dereham 9.30 am
17th September St Peter and St Paul, Scarning 7.00 pm
26th September St Mary, East Bilney 9.30 am
3rd October All Saints’, Shipdham 9.30 am
3rd October All Saints’, Swanton Morley 11.00 am
10th October St Andrew, Hoe 9.30 am
17th October St Andrew, Bradenham 9.30 am
The tradition of Harvest Festival in today's format began in 1843, when the Reverend Robert Hawker invited parishioners to a special thanksgiving service for the harvest at his Morwenstow church. Hawker created the Harvest Festival as we know it as the antithesis of the harvest homes of his day which were bawdy and often drunken affairs with a smattering of paganism thrown in. Although I have every sympathy with Hawker, I suspect the harvest homes were very dependent on the quality of harvest year to year. A bad harvest in his day would see the poorest struggling and celebrations muted. The 1840s saw the Great Hunger or Great Famine when around 1,000,000 died in Ireland. With such vulnerabilities you can imagine how the celebrations for a good harvest would go with partying into the night – and who could blame them. These were the days when village life was shaped by the agricultural year when everyone had a role in bringing the harvest in.
Today we are so detached from harvest we do not see the impact of poor or good harvests in shops. We do not always see the effects of climate change on our food supplies either. I always welcome harvest as that one opportunity to be thankful for what we have and to be thankful for those who made it possible for us to eat. It also provides the occasion to reflect on the environmental issues of our day, and our response to them. It is clear we will not be able to continue to go on living as we do without serious consequences.
One of the 5 Marks of Mission agreed by the Church of England in 1996 was to ‘To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth’. In our harvest celebrations this year we will also be reflecting on our own choices and the impact they make – for Harvest Festivals are more than just singing ’We plough the fields and scatter’ and ‘Come, ye thankful people, come’.
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