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Date posted: 5 May 2016
Operation Noah was well represented at the Ecumenical World Development Conference, held over two days in April at Coventry’s Methodist Central Hall. Chair Nicky Bull reflects on what they learned.
With four main sessions of addresses and two workshop slots, it was a full programme with informative and inspiring speakers. Congratulations are due to the planning team from across a number of organisations who put the conference together under the leadership of Maranda St John Nicolle. The following reflections are the points that, for me, were the ‘top two’ from each session.
On Friday afternoon, in a session chaired by Operation Noah’s Jean Leston, we heard from Professor Myles Allen of Oxford University and Mohamad Adow from Christian Aid, providing ‘Perspectives on Paris and subsequent events’. From Professor Allen:
And from Mohamad Adow:
The second set of speakers addressed the subject of ‘Responding in Hope’ with a theological discussion, chaired by Bishop Graham Usher. From Dr Martin Poulsom of Heythrop College, Revd Dr Rosalind Selby, Principal of Northern College, and Dr Ruth Valerio of A Rocha UK:
On Friday evening, following a time of worship and an excellent dinner, we spent an ‘evening with Michael Northcott’, Professor of Ethics at Edinburgh University. He held up ‘the land’ as the central biblical message for the climate change movement. He found hope in the far-reaching actions of individuals but concern that Christians should avoid ‘blaming’ people who actually have very little scope to change their personal carbon footprint. In actions taken in some German and Danish cities, there were also some signs of hope in the political sphere.
Saturday’s programme began with a session chaired by Andy Flannagan, ‘Challenges and Opportunities: Responding in and Communicating for Hope’. From Paul Cook of Tearfund, who also introduced Jo and the work of Sustainable Blewbury and then Godfrey Armitage, who had organised the 2015 ‘Reconciling a Wounded Planet’ conference:
And from George Marshall of Climate Outreach:
In the final speaker session, Maria Elena Arana of CAFOD introduced Jo Herbert from Tearfund and Rachel Lampard, Vice President Designate of Methodist Conference.
From Jo Herbert:
There was then a selection of workshops for participants to attend, including an excellent session looking at the whole church divestment/reinvestment question run by ON’s Mark Letcher and James Buchanan.
This was an intensive but very useful couple of days during which there were plentiful opportunities for networking and exchanging news between a wide range of organisations.