Maureen Rowan Harvey reflects on the life of her congregation since lockdown:
Since November 2019, in the typically steady, democratic way things get done at Centenary Methodist Church, we were getting started on becoming an Eco-Congregation. Then, suddenly, in March 2020, we were carbon-neutral. We stopped travelling, the buildings were empty, little fuel was used, there was no plastic anywhere. Our gathered church began gathering in a different way via services recorded on YouTube and meetings held on Zoom.
Covid 19 has challenged every aspect of our lives, but one of the consolations has been the way the natural environment has become a central part of worship. Church leaders and members of the congregation record videos of nature as a backdrop to prayers, and these are seamlessly blended by Rev Andrew Kingston, using his rapidly mastered skills with Quicktime software. An image of a clematis intensifies a prayer that God would draw close and surround us in time of pain and sorrow. By the waters of the river Dodder, Rev Andrew films and reflects on the ‘strange land’ in which we find ourselves, reminding us of Hebrews Ch 11 ‘faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen’. The Manse garden is planted with biblical herbs, spices, wild flowers and vegetables – mustard, hyssop, sage, flax, rosemary, cucumber. These provide a basis for a sermon on the parable of the sower and on our global obligations to countries where nature is not so kind.
This time to pause and reflect will enable us to focus our efforts to be ahead of the next global catastrophe for which, unlike Covid 19, we have received lots of warning. The challenge of applying the wealth of resource material available from Eco-Congregation Ireland can seem daunting at times, given that our buildings are old, our roof needs replacing, our kitchen has multiple users, our members travel from all around the city. Like the mustard seed in the manse garden, however, we pray that our effort can start small and eventually put out ‘great branches, so that the birds of the sky can lodge under its shadow.”