Sage Words October 2001
Margot ordained as deacon
Congratulations to Sage member Margot Hodson, who was ordained as a deacon at Christ Church Cathedral on 29 September. Her specially designed stole includes the Sage logo. Margot is now a curate at St John the Baptist, Grove, from where she and Martin will host Sage's New Year walk.
F&M and B&Bs
At the beginning of September a group of nine Sage folk spent a weekend in Gloucestershire, staying at a couple of farm B&Bs near Tewkesbury. The aim was to support, in our own small way, farmers hit by the Foot and Mouth, and to learn something more about the current farming climate.
We enjoyed a good few miles' walk along the Malvern Hills, a great place for kite-flying and hawk-watching. An easy to follow path began on a wooded hillside and led us to the top of the ridge with glorious views over the flat fields of Worcestershire and the wooded hills of Herefordshire towards Wales.
Both B&Bs we stayed at were affected directly by the Foot and Mouth crisis. The smaller farm was lambing the day before their sheep were slaughtered. The farmers now rely on the B&B for their income, and currently have to mow the fields to keep the grass down. The larger farm similarly lost their cattle herd - the big farmhouse was surrounded by eerily empty stalls and yards - but is also arable. There was obviously still much concern at the potential for infection, and not much optimism for early re-stocking.
The farmers we met were passionately concerned about the welfare of their animals and the future of farming. Many wanted to promote local meat production, reducing the number of journeys animals make. A positive sense of community came across in the midst of the crisis - as well as regular B&B guests, support came from the most unexpected places, although there is an ongoing need for support for the affected communities.
For more information on farm B&Bs visit Farm Stay UK or telephone 01271 336141.
Christians call for action on Nigerian oil spills
Oil spills pose a major threat to the environment in Nigeria. If not checked or effectively managed, they could lead to total annihilation of the ecosystem, especially in the Niger Delta where oil spills have become prevalent. Life in this region is increasingly becoming unbearable due to the ugly effects of oil spills, and many communities continue to groan under the degrading impact of spills.
Oil was discovered in commercial quantities in Nigeria in 1956 at Oloibiri community, now in Bayelsa State, some 90 kilometres west of Port Harcourt. Ever since, there have been other discoveries. Export of this product began in 1958. Record has it that about 2,300 cubic metres of oil are spilled in over 300 separate incidents annually. This is said to be the official record supplied by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), as reported by the operating companies. The actual figure could be about ten times higher.
The largest oil spill in Nigeria, which occurred in January 1980, was an offshore blow-out leaving about 200,000 barrels of oil spewed into the Atlantic Ocean from a Texaco facility. The spill destroyed over 340 hectares of mangroves. Several other spills from the facilities of Mobil, Shell and other oil industries have been reported. These spills continue to wreak havoc on aquatic life and farm lands, and in most cases leave whole communities helplessly searching for drinkable water and food.
Most pipelines from the flow stations are dangerously obsolete. By international standards, oil pipes ought to be replaced after 15 to 20 years, but most pipelines in use are 20 to 25 years old, making them subject to corrosion and leakage. Some of these pipes are laid above ground level without adequate surveillance, exposing them to wear and tear and other dangers. Moreover, when spills occur, effective and efficient cleanup measures are grossly lacking.
There must be concerted efforts by all stakeholders in the oil industry - Multinational Corporations, Governments and host communities, in ensuring that the incidents and effects of oil spills are curtailed and or effectively managed, to save our environment from imminent decay. Maintenance of oil facilities must of necessity conform to international standards. Our God-given natural resources should be used to better the lots of inhabitants of the earth, particularly those in the Niger Delta region.
Rev Augustine Oyem
Rev Augustine Oyem is part of Christian Action For the Environment, an arm of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria. He can be contacted at PO Box 10577, 214 Uselu-Lagos Road, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria. Telephone +234-52-600165. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Simonsons to return to Portugal
A Rocha has never had difficulty with Jesus' commandment to “Consider the birds of the air”, and indeed has extended it to insects, mammals reptiles and plants! The study of God's world helps us understand how we can best conserve it and brings us into a deeper relationship with our Creator.
A Rocha field studies that first began at Cruzinha, Portugal are now expanding to places such as Kenya, Lebanon, France, the Czech Republic, and Southall, London (see Sage Words May 2001). In order to seize this opportunity to the full there is the need for some scientific oversight and co-ordination across the national projects.
It was nevertheless a great surprise to us when we were approached to join the Cruzinha team, with Will working part-time in this international role. A Rocha has never been far from our hearts, since Will's previous time at Cruzinha, and Rachel's period as administrator, and we have been called to this work again with much gratitude.
As a family we will be living in the village of Mexilhoeira Grande, and seek to build on a long history of Christian witness there. We will also participate in the community life of the centre, and respond to the needs of all who pass through. Both will be challenging but fruitful places to bring our complementary gifts and skills.
We hope to stay in touch with Sage, and welcome another party to Portugal one day.
If you would like to stay in regular contact with our work, or help towards its costs, please contact by e-mail at email@example.com.
Will and Rachel Simonson
Sage workshop at countywide event
Preparations are under way for the Sage workshop at the Churches Together in Oxfordshire assembly on Saturday 17 November. The overall theme of the day is God's World? Christian Choices for the Future of the Earth, and Sage's workshop on “practical choices” will complement others on Local Agenda 21, climate change, the theology of creation, the future of farming, investment, and the two-thirds world. Well-known writer and broadcaster Elaine Storkey will be the keynote speaker. Contact Clare if you can help with the workshop or have ideas about it.
Autumn work at Boundary Brook
Boundary Brook Nature Park is an ever-increasing wildlife haven, with a new bird-feeding station and pond-dipping platform making the wildlife easier to see. Autumn colours are starting to come out, particularly in the maturing woodland, orchard and hedgerows, with flowers still in the wildlife garden. Sage is planning autumn and spring work parties to help the Oxford Urban Wildlife Group maintain the Park. Come along on Saturday 27 October and enjoy some seasonal tasks together (with tea and cake!) or just look round.