Celebration of regeneration at the Minster’s Season of Creation

By - Tuesday 11th October, 2016

Lee Taylor, Associate Vicar of Croydon Minster, ponders some ancient words of advice for Croydon

Photo author’s own.

When conversations begin about building and protecting, it can easily be assumed that urban economic developers and conservationists are inexorable enemies. Yet, these interlocutors have one thing in common: the welfare and flourishing of the place in which they are set. Between them, they have a concern for the built and natural environment.

These two interest groups from in and around Croydon were invited to a special service at Croydon Minster last month to celebrate the Season of Creation.

Through music, word and action, the service was an opportunity to reflect on two wider themes that relate to humankind’s responsibility, as stewards of the earth, for creation: ‘build’ and ‘protect’. Christians believe that, as global citizens, we have a duty to work for the sanctification of the whole world; to care for both our green and urban landscapes.

Churches focus on the theme of creation from 1st September to the feast of St Francis on 4th October

So, what is the Season of Creation all about?

In 1989 the Ecumenical Patriarch suggested that 1st September, the first day of the Orthodox Church’s year, should be observed as a day “of protection of the natural environment”.

Ten years later the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) widened this proposal, urging churches to adopt a Time for Creation stretching from 1st September to the feast of St Francis on 4th October. Since then, churches have been encouraged to focus on the theme of creation either in a local or wider context. The service at Croydon Minster, ‘Let Creation Sing’, reflected a Croydon context drawing on the themes of ‘protect’ and ‘build’.

We give thanks for those who are working in creative ways for the regeneration of our town

In our readings and prayers we remembered those whose work seeks to ‘protect’ the natural environment and promote care and respect for creation. It was a great pleasure to welcome Andrew Dickinson who presents the environmental show on Croydon Radio and actively encourages Croydon residents to make the borough a clean and healthy place to live. We also welcomed Tracey Hague from Croydon Green Party who read the poem ‘Beauty: Seen and Unseen’, by Gorden Ramel.

It is the Christian belief that, as created beings, we are also fellow workers of God’s good creation. Saint Hildegard of Bingen is known as one of the great creation-centred mystics. She coined the term viriditas, or ‘greening power’, connecting it closely with creativity. Hildegard affirmed that humankind, full of all creative possibilities, is God’s work. Humankind alone is called to assist God. Humankind is called to co-create. With nature’s help, humankind can set into creation all that is necessary and life-sustaining’.

In the context of a changing Croydon, we also give thanks for those who are working in creative ways for the regeneration of our town, especially in ways that ‘build’ up the economy and that proclaim beauty, equality, and sustainability.

We welcomed representatives from the Croydon Partnership, Croydon Council, and the Mayor of Croydon

A challenge and a priority for urban systems is to be conscious of environmental sustainability. Last month, the Sustainability Appraisal (SA) report was produced by AECOM Infrastructure & Environment UK Ltd which gave recommendations on sustainability issues for the Croydon Local Plan. Some of the key objectives that were established in this report include the promotion of renewable energy, waste minimisation and composting, and the need to increase the quality and range of wildlife habitats in the borough.

A ‘sustainable redevelopment’ is a priority for the Croydon Partnership, which is working closely with the council to deliver this objective on the site of the Whitgift Centre. Their motto is ‘be lean, be clean, be green’. So, it was fitting to be able to welcome to ‘Let Creation Sing’ representatives from Croydon Partnership. Steve Yewman, Development Director at Westfield, addressed the congregation outlining his vision and optimism for the future of Croydon. It was also a pleasure to welcome: the Mayor of Croydon, Wayne Trakas Lawlor; Paula Murray, Creative Director for Croydon Regeneration; and Jo Negrini, Chief Executive of Croydon Council.

In the words of Paula Murray, Croydon’s Creative Director for regeneration: The service at the Minster was a really positive gesture, bringing together a range of key organisations and individuals in celebration of some of the developments and  changes that are we are looking forward to here. It would be great to have more gatherings of this kind”.

One of our readings from scripture, read by Jo Negrini, was an encouragement to ‘seek the welfare of the city, for as it prospers, so you also will prosper’. These words were written about 2,500 years ago by the prophet Jeremiah, and still they can speak to us today and encourage us to make both our urban and green environments a great place to live and work.

Lee Taylor

Lee Taylor

Father Lee Taylor is Associate Vicar of Croydon Minster. Bolton-born, he has lived in the south for many years and has a keen interest in the liturgy and music of the church. No stranger to inns, his mother ran two pubs in Wigan and Lee used to help out by pulling pints and chatting to the regulars. He worked at a local working men’s club in Bolton where he served behind the bar and played a few old-time songs on the organ before the bingo session.

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