News from Bishop Geoff and Kate
26 Sep 2007
Warm greetings from the tail-end of the 1000 mile Christian Aid ‘Cut the Carbon’ March!
We are sorry not to have been more communicative.
It has not been easy to find places where we can connect our laptop in the evenings, when sleeping on church hall floors or staying with host families. It has also been a lot more tiring walking 15 to 20 miles (24 to 32km) a day than we had anticipated! On Sunday we walked through the New Forest from Christchurch (near Bournmouth) to Lyndhurst, following the Christian Socialist Movement service (at the start of the Labour Party Conference) only arriving at our destination at 7.30pm in the dark and in pouring rain. Thankfully, it has been our only day of rain so far. Grim, long days on congested roads in order to get high visibility and news coverage have been interspersed with welcome walks along canals and rambles through fields and on country footpaths. Sadly, a lasting memory of England and Wales will be the ubiquitous noise of traffic and discarded rubbish on the roadside verges.
On most evenings the marchers – 10 from the UK and 10 internationals - have taken it in turns to undertake speaking engagements. The crowds have not been great – perhaps it is difficult catching people’s imagination regarding climate change and its link to poverty - but we have met some wonderful people, many of whom have had connections with Africa at some time in their lives, including a doctor who spent 30 years at a mission hospital in Zambia.
We find the standard of living much higher than it was even ten years ago – vehicles and trains are luxurious, houses are centrally over-heated and front gardens paved with concrete to accommodate the family’s fleet of cars (exacerbating flash flooding). How do we persuade people that a change of lifestyle is necessary? The irony is that if we seriously pursue renewable energy options, we could actually increase employment and improve our lifestyles at the same time.
We ducked out of the march last week, first to attend the Gaia Institute’s conference to celebrate Thomas Berry’s 85th birthday in London. We had outstanding talks from Satish Kumar (the editor of Resurgence), Matthew Fox, Cormac Cullinan (from Cape Town) and Vandana Shiva. We then went to Geneva at the request of the WCC’s Ecumenical Water Network to participate in a presentation on the Human Right for Water alongside the UN Human Rights Commission, staying at the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey where I studied in 1968/9! It was a welcome and beautiful break with glorious late summer weather. We even caught a brief glimpse of Mont Blanc’s snow cap at sunset from Geneva.
The march culminates with a service at St Paul’s Cathedral on 2nd October and a grand celebration. We are really looking forward to coming home on the 8th of October!
Geoff and Kate