CRES Residential Report: September 2017 (Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd September 2017)
Since 2007 CRES has been running an annual residential at Ripon College Cuddesdon (nr. Oxford) in September. This year it was on Friday and Saturday 1st/2nd September. We had a great programme “The Church in Action” on Friday, starting with an introduction to CRES and the afternoon field trip. After lunch, we had our annual field trip to sites within range of Cuddesdon. We began with a visit to St. Dunstan’s, Monks Risborough, led by Rev. James Tomkins and his team. St. Dunstan’s is the oldest recorded ecclesiastical parish in the country with a charter dating back to 903 AD. We visited their new churchyard extension project, where a wildflower meadow is being created. Some of our group had a go at scything! We then went on to St Andrew’s, Chinnor for a visit led by Rev. Maggie Thorne and her team. The churches in this area have been involved in environmental issues for many years and were part of the “Chiltern Gateway Project”, an A Rocha UK associated project. CRES visited the project on a number of occasions in the past. Things have moved on, and St. Andrew’s is now engaged in the Eco Church scheme, and recently gained a Bronze Award. We had a welcome cup of tea and wonderful cakes. Maggie then described how the church worked towards its bronze award, and then took us on a tour of their churchyard, complete with mats for slow worms. We then returned to the College for dinner.
After dinner two of our first-year students did their presentations, one talk on globalisation and one interview. In the evening Rev. Alex Mabbs of Operation Noah led a session on “Money to Burn: climate change and Church investments”. He explained shareholder engagement, divestment and reinvestment, and encouraged all churches and denominations to consider divesting from fossil fuels. To end the day Godfrey Armitage led a short evening service in the wonderful chapel.
First thing on Saturday morning Rev. Philip Wagstaff led us in morning prayer using an ecumenical Methodist/Anglican liturgy. After breakfast, the Saturday morning was spent on three very good final year student presentations. Rev. Chris Goble looked at the topic of rewilding, whilst Izzy Woodman considered the effects of an Eco Church project in her church, Lyme Regis Baptist, on the theological thinking of the congregation. After coffee, Rev. John Harper told us about The Great Fen Project near his home in Peterborough. The examiners then retired to consider their verdict, after which Dr. Sarah Dunlop, our external examiner, made the official announcement that Chris, Izzy and John had all been awarded Certificates. Many congratulations to all three!!
Our running total is now 32 Certificates (9 with Distinction) and 4 Diplomas. The first CRES graduates were in 2005, and we have had 13 cohorts so far. So we are averaging 2.8 graduates a year! CRES is less concerned with large numbers and is happy to have helped 36 people along the way to helping us make a more sustainable world. Certainly, Chris, Izzy and John fully intend to continue with their work after CRES.
One sad, and one happy thing to report. Sad: Dr. Sarah Dunlop (Cranmer Hall, Durham) has been an excellent external examiner for the last four years and has now finished her term with us. Sarah has made many helpful suggestions for improving the course and has been a delight to work with. Happy news: CRES graduate, Izzy Woodman will marry Harry Sibley less than a week after the residential. Harry also came on the weekend and we gave them a small gift at the end of the morning. Best wishes for your future Izzy and Harry!
It was a great weekend, and hopefully this has given you just a little flavour of it. Now is the traditional time when many people apply for the course, and if you are interested go to CRES Admissions 2017.
Dr Martin Hodson
CRES Principal Tutor