Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Our Environment 2011: York Minster Event on Saturday 28th May

Well all the arrangements are in place now for our event on Saturday.  We have 35 exhibitors and around 30 pieces of "Environment" inspired art to go on display.  In addition to the Archbishop of York coming along we will be hosting the York based drama group "Riding Lights", Fairtrade coffee, teas and other refreshments, tours of the Minster and a Lunchtime Eucharist using specially prepared material on the theme of the environment and creation.  ALL ARE WELCOME and we look forward to seeing you on the day.  Do say hello as you go round the exhibition.

Graham Andrews

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Diocesan bird box home to baby tree sparrows!

As part of the Year of the Environment, the Diocese sent out a nesting box to every church and church school. The bird box at St Martin, Kirklevington is now home to a brood of baby tree sparrows!

Mike Page, Churchwarden of St Martin, Kirklevington contacted us to say, "This photograph shows the first brood of any species to be hatched and reared in the bird box supplied by the D of Y earlier this year. Thanks to Alistair McLee (Chairman of Teesmouth Bird Club and licensed “ringer”) who not only recommended the location for the box, but also was correct in forecasting that we would successfully attract tree sparrows and not the more numerous blue tits. The photo was taken as the birds were being fitted with identity rings on 12 May 2011."

Have any birds nested in your bird box? If so, please do let us know at Congratulations to Kirklevington!

Eleanor Course (feeling as proud as if she'd laid the eggs herself!)

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Rogation Sunday and Beating the Bounds

Rogation Sunday is the fifth Sunday after Easter - 29th May this year. It's a day when we ask God to bless the crops (to ask is rogare in Latin), the farmers who work the land, and we can pray for our environment.

If you want to celebrate Rogation Sunday, you can download an order of service for Holy Communion on Rogation Sunday, prepared by the Revd Canon Richard Rowling, the Archbishop's Adivsor on Rural Affairs here.

In centuries past, Rogation Sunday also saw the Beating of the Bounds. Congregations would walk around the boundaries of each parish, marking what lay inside the parish, and what had changed from last year. Some parishes still do this today, looking at natural resources and focusing on God's creation in their own parish.

If you are planning to Beat the Bounds of your parish on Sunday 29th May, why not take an inventory of the natural resources - ponds, woods or rivers - in your parish, and how you might best preserve them and increase the biodiversity of your parish.

Please do send your photos and reports of Beating the Bounds to 

Eleanor Course

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Spot an orchid in your churchyard

Churchyard wildlife watch for UN International Biodiversity Day (May 22)   
Shrinking the Footprint, the Church of England’s national environmental campaign, is encouraging churchgoers to follow in the footsteps of the Rev Gilbert White and other naturalists to take a closer look at wild plants, including those with faith links, in their churchyards.

International orchid expert the Revd David Ridgway (vicar of St Stephen’s, St Albans) says orchids, along with a range of other wild flowers, are blooming at this time of year and, with the onset of early spring, there is a host of wildlife to be spotted in churchyards. You can listen to David's podcast here.

As a partner in the UN International Biodiversity celebrations, Shrinking the Footprint has drawn up a list of plants and web links that will help nature enthusiasts make the most of some 10,000 churchyards around the country.

With monocropping and chemical pesticides used in farms and gardens, churchyards are often the most biodiverse places in communities.  Wildlife audits have revealed a surprising range of wild flowers and animal life in churchyards.

Some plants, like meadow saxifrage and the green winged orchid, are now only found in churchyards.  These grow side by side with other plants gathered naturally over the years, but also alongside those introduced inadvertently from decorations in the church or on graves.

Speaking in the Commons last week, the Second Estates Church Commissioner, Tony Baldry MP, encouraged churches to celebrate Biodiversity Sunday by recording the growth of their Millennium yews. The Conservation Foundation donated 8,500 yew trees to churches to celebrate the Millennium.

David Shreeve, the Church of England’s national environment adviser, said: “There is a wealth of wildlife in our churchyards which, when added together, form the country's largest and most biodiverse nature reserve. This year is a great opportunity for churchgoers to spend time appreciating what special places our churchyards are in providing their communities with local Noah's Arks of biodiversity which everyone can share not just this Sunday but every day – for free"

Plants with faith links:
  • Columbine – Aquilegia vulgaris - is also known as ‘dove flower’. The dove is a symbol for new creation and baptism and carvings of the flower are often found in cathedrals and churches.
  • Sorrel – Rumex acetosa -  was one of the bitter herbs that Hebrew people ate with Passover lamb and so possibly part of the Last Supper.
  • Moschatel – Adoxa moschatellina - also known as the Good Friday flower.  There is no other flower like it with its five petals facing north, south, east and west and a fifth facing the sky and a scent of musk.  It is the only species in its genus and the only genus in its family in the world.  
  • Wild Pansy –Viola tricolor -  a member of the violet family, and also known as ‘heartsease’ and ‘Trinity Violets’ because they are yellow, white and purple.
  • Cow Parsley – Anthriscus sylvestris - also sometimes known as ‘Our Lady’s Lace’
  • Pasque Flower – Pulsatilla vulgaris – thought to be the lilies of the field Jesus pointed to in his Sermon on the Mount.
  • Solomon’s Seal – Polygonatum multiflorum -  grows in the wild now only in a few places.  King Solomon was renowned for his wisdom, composed 3000 proverbs and 1005 songs and built the first temple.
  • Speedwell – Veronica. When Jesus carried his cross, Veronica was the girl in the crowd who offered him her handkerchief.  When Jesus handed it back his face was imprinted on the cloth.  An old country name for speedwell is ‘God’s Eye’
  • Lady’s Smock – Cardamine pratensis. In the cloisters of Lincoln Cathedral which is dedicated to Our Lady there is a garden full of her flowers.
  • Lords and Ladies – Arum maculatum - has also been known as ‘Parson in the pulpit’ and ‘Parson in his smock’.
Useful web links:
  • - Yorkshires Living Churchyard Project
  •  - “protecting wildlife for the future” with examples of churchyard audits
  • works to to protect and improve England’s natural environment
  •  conservation charity for churchyards and burial grounds
  • – news and advice on gardening for all
  • Orchid Society website with lots of info and advice
Eleanor Course

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

RESOURCES: New Web Sites Launched

Two new web sites have been launched:
contains lots of information on woods, trees and woodfuel.
And the energyshare grant fund has just been launched with up to £500,000 for community renewable energy projects.

Graham Andrews
Archbishop's Adviser for the Environment

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Environment Policy for the Diocese

At Diocesan Synod on Saturday 7th May, Synod passed an Environment Policy for the Diocese of York. You can read this here.