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This annual report was presented by Nicky Bull, Chair of Operation Noah, at our AGM on 10 June 2017 in Birmingham.
During 2016, Operation Noah continued to work with York-based theatre group Riding Lights on plans for the filming of scenes from the 2015 eco drama, Baked Alaska, and the production of accompanying resources for both schools and church-based groups. These resources have been made freely available online as from May 2017 and are well worth looking at. I do encourage anyone with contacts at secondary schools to commend these schools resources to the RE and Geography departments. The small-group resources would be excellent for home study groups or as the basis for creation-themed services.
Having completed our move to the Neighbourhood Office at 40 Bermondsey Street in January 2016 we now have a second desk there. Since February 2016, James Buchanan has been our Bright Now Campaigner and you will shortly hear more about how the campaign has developed over the last year. However, a particularly important achievement this year has been the production of a new printed resource entitled ‘How to Divest your Church’. There are copies available here today and it can also be downloaded from our website.
In addition to the grant funding for the work of Bright Now we have also been successful in attracting funding to launch a new campaign that began with the working title of ‘Turning up the Heat’. This is an outreach campaign aimed at right-of-centre Christians and, again, you will hear more about it later today. We advertised for and interviewed candidates for the post of Campaigner for this in autumn 2016 and appointed Jonathan Cooper to the post. He was one of two stand-out candidates and when, earlier this year, he told us that he would have to leave us at the end of May in order that his wife could take up an unexpected promotion and relocation abroad, we were very disappointed, while delighted for them. However, we have been extremely fortunate in that the other top interview candidate from last year has been able to take over from Jonathan and as of 1 June we have been joined by Stephen Edwards. Thanks to some hard work by both of them in the second half of May they have been able to effect a seamless take-over and Stephen will update us on the outreach campaign, via a video report, shortly.
Ruth Jarman of Operation Noah, along with fellow members of Christian Climate Action, have taken part in a number of protest actions during the last year, most recently in connection with the AGM of oil giant ExxonMobil. Their cycle ride from the Fawley refinery to Salisbury, where a vigil was being held at the cathedral, was given extensive coverage on the regional BBC television news.
As a result of a meeting that we hosted shortly after Andy Atkins took over as Director at A Rocha, he has recently convened a group comprising representatives from various faith-based environment NGOs, together with others from theological training establishments, to discuss what we might do to enhance and support the teaching of creation care in ministerial training. The first exploratory meeting took place a few months ago and we are committed to working with this group to see how this important work can be taken forward.
We also continue to send representatives from the ON board to the meetings of the Faith for the Climate network; this provides a very useful networking forum where we can meet and discuss with people from a range of organisations whose focus is on mobilising the faith communities on climate change.
We are grateful to the Sainsbury Family Trusts (the Ashden Trust, the JJ Charitable Trust and the Mark Leonard Trust) and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust for the grant funding we have received from them, and to board member Reggie Norton and his family for additional extremely generous trust fund donations to take the outreach campaign into a third year. However, as you will hear from our Treasurer shortly, we are totally dependent upon our regular donor supporters who give to unrestricted funds that are needed to cover the ongoing running costs of Operation Noah. The sums are not huge, especially for an organisation that is becoming well known among NGOs for ‘punching above its weight’ and for a number of years now we have been aiming to achieve the equivalent of 100 donors each giving £10 per month. This continues to be a difficult goal to reach and although we receive one-off donations and legacies that help a great deal we do have ongoing concerns about our finances. In addition, our Treasurer, co-opted board member Leonard, who has worked so hard for Operation Noah over many years, has decided that the time has come to retire.
There are some very important thank-yous, and especially this year as we said farewell to one of our Vice-Chairs, Chris Halliwell, back in December and today marks the retirement of the other Vice-Chair, Mark Letcher. Both have been absolutely invaluable over recent years and we wish them well in all that they are continuing to do in response to all the issues around climate change. Thanks are also due to Giles Goddard, who has decided to stand down this year in order to concentrate on other things: he is continuing to chair the Faith for the Climate network and to work on inter-faith initiatives, so we look forward to collaborating with him in the future. We are also very grateful for the continuing consultancy work that Penny Dakin Kiley, a former Operation Noah board member, is undertaking for us on all aspects of our communications. Many thanks to all of them – and to all my fellow board members who have continued to work extremely hard throughout the year.
This brings me to one of the most pressing needs that Operation Noah currently faces, which is finding new board members to join us and to share their energy and skills with those of us currently on the board. We have the opportunity today not just to re-elect Ruth Jarman, nominated by Green Christian) and Jean Leston (nominated by the Environmental Issues Network of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland) but also to elect someone from among our supporters. It is also open to us to co-opt one or two further board members, especially if there are interested people who can offer specific skills in any of the following areas: fundraising; data management; people management; or finance / account keeping.