Gaia – September 2023
A report from the Chair of the Eco Church group
‘I’ve never heard so many people saying ‘Wow!’ (from a Churchwarden)
‘Gaia exhibition…..wow, out of this world literally! The staff explained the installation and the rest of the building was outstanding too, worth a visit for sure.’
‘Gaia artwork is stunning, moving and emotional!!’
‘Different view of our precious planet. Stunning Gaia exhibition in a beautiful building. I feel privileged to live in a town supporting free art exhibitions.’
‘Gaia is the perfect backdrop to our Ecofair.’ (Trip Advisor)
Over three weeks more than 26,000 people flocked to Beverley Minster to view ‘Gaia’, the seven metre diameter globe created by the artist Luke Jerram from Nasa photographs of the Earth taken from space. Some travelled specially from Durham and Leicester and even Exeter to gaze in wonder – Wow! was a common response from young and old alike. Gaia literally put Beverley on the map – a tiny speck somewhere near the top. Even Europe looked small set against enormous Africa or the utter vastness of the Pacific Ocean. One child asked: ‘How can we see it up there and be standing on it?’
The minster proved to be the ideal setting for Gaia, not least because the nave is eight metres wide. Phew! The west window made a beautiful backdrop by day; but it was as darkness fell that the installation came into its own. Several of the 26,000 were in fact people who had first come in the day returning in the dark to experience even greater wonder and awe. And Gaia continued to rotate at night even as the Earth continues to turn while we sleep.
We often speak of the Church in the World, but here we had the World in the Church. For those of us who believe in One who creates and sustains the Earth over the aeons the setting spoke of God embracing in his love this fragile and beautiful planet and all that live on it.
Whether people of faith or not few could come away without thinking ‘What can I do to care for the Earth? Our Eco Fair, held in the minster on the last weekend of Gaia, helped offer some suggestions. There were some 35 stalls and workshops, children’s activities, a puppet theatre and ten illustrated talks helping to answer that question. It’s a question we have to keep asking.
The fair showed that there can be joy and laughter and friendship in finding the answers. Gaia has moved on to Truro Cathedral (if only those people from Exeter had known!).
Meanwhile we can explore our way forward by becoming a Climate Hero (https://climatehero.me)
“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it.”
Psalm 42, v.1
Beverley Minster’s Eco Creed
- We believe that God made the world and “it was good”.
- We share in his creativity as caretakers of his beautiful creation on behalf of the generations to come.
- We acknowledge, though, that through negligence and greed we have damaged and destroyed much of the planet.
- We believe that climate change is happening now and that it impacts in particular the poorest and most vulnerable who contribute least to global emissions.
- We believe that we need to repent, to change the way we live and rediscover our calling to care for the whole of creation.
- We are committed to help the Church of England to achieve its declared aim of being carbon neutral by 2030 and to increase our awareness and appreciation of the environment.
To guide us we are using an environmental audit looking at 5 areas of church life prepared by the Christian charity A Rocha UK that offers bronze, silver and gold awards.
Open each section below to find out about our Eco creed
Beverley Minster and the Clergy are committed to incorporating care for God’s creation into worship and teaching. The church has several services a year focusing on creation, God’s bounteous provision for us, and our responsibility for caring for God’s world. The Crossing service worships outside in the Secret Garden (weather permitting). The Quiet Garden is set aside for private prayer and contemplation as well as being used on occasion for home groups to meet.
Beverley Minster is responsible for several areas of land which we are looking to use to maximise biodiversity and appreciation and engagement with God’s creation.
The church yard is open each day during daylight hours when the Minster is open. It is now closed for burials and is maintained by the East Riding council. This area has snowdrops, aconites, daffodils and buddleia in season. Through National Heritage Lottery Funding the Sanctuary Project has created a wild flower area with planters for herbs and seating to enable enjoyment of the space. This area is accessible from the church yard entrance and from the Minster itself when weather permits.
The Secret Garden, the Quiet Garden and a strip of land adjacent to the parish hall are all managed by volunteers. The Secret Garden is part of the Vicarage but is available for church use. This area has a wildlife pond, hedgehog house, log piles for mini-beasts and bird feeders as well as fruit trees, flower borders, vegetable patch and a compost heap. Flowers from the garden are used in the church.The Crossing Service takes place here on Sundays weather permitting. Frogs, hedgehogs, numerous birds and the occasional fox frequent the Secret Garden.
The Quiet garden, next to the parish centre, is used for private prayer and contemplation and house groups from time to time. The Quiet Garden is part of The Quiet Garden Movement.
Beverley Minster congregation wish to become more environmentally friendly. To help and encourage this on an individual level we are promoting lifestyle ways to do this. We are promoting the Climate Heroes survey which determines an individual’s carbon footprint and advice on how to reduce the footprint where possible. We recognise change is difficult, but we believe each small step can make a big difference when we add our individual steps together, whether it be a reduction in car use, heating, plastic use, litter picking or creating space for nature.
The Church of England has declared a climate emergency and aims to be zero carbon by 2030. We are committed to help with achieving this. Our buildings include the Minster, Parish Hall, Peter Harrison Room and the Parish Centre. We are formulating a delivery plan to achieve carbon zero. We realise that this will need community engagement and financial investment requiring funds to be raised. The Church does an annual energy return to determine our energy footprint which is rated A++ to G. Our footprint will help us to formulate the delivery plan. We are currently looking at all our energy consuming systems with a view to reducing our fossil energy consumption and to bring them all within an affordable envelope.
Being an Eco church is more than looking after the Minster buildings and land in an environmentally friendly way although this is a key component. It involves every area of our church lives, including how we engage with our local community and the wilder world. Our actions speak louder than words in caring for God’s creation. To facilitate this we are working through Beverley Churches Together to encourage collective working on issues of climate change and other environmental issues. We have met with East Riding Council and are fostering links with them for the benefit of the environment. We have arranged a joint meeting in September to learn about the council’s eco initiatives. We are also contacting non-church groups to encourage a positive impact on the environment. We are also trying to learn from our Christian partners around the world about the impact of climate change and other environmental issues affecting them.
We are also reviewing the cleaning products and other items used in the Minster for their Eco credentials and where possible attempting swaps to more eco-friendly alternatives.