CAPTION: Interactive displays & prayer stations were in Chagford Church for the 12 days of COP26 at the beginning of November

People ‘Rediscover’ Church at Chagford’s Celebration of the Earth for COP26

Posted: 16th November, 2021

Over the last week at St Michael the Archangel, Chagford as all sorts of people and ages, gifts and backgrounds celebrated Creation in music, art, poetry and contemplative silence through the says of the Climate Change conference in Glasgow.

Many people participated in the community vigil and in all sorts of ways: from local school pupils and their families bringing in and blessing items they’d gathered from their favourite natural places to help make a large mandala; music on the harp by candlelight interspersed with prayers from the Celtic tradition; beautiful displays representing the elements of fire, air, water and earth and a great prayer tree full of blessings and prayers.

Talks were given by one parishioner who’d taken part in a pilgrimage to COP26, environmental writers and performances by storytellers and leading artists and writers like Brian and Wendy Froud.

A mandala was made of items collected by local schoolchildren

During the days, St Michael’s resounded to the sound of birdsong (recorded here on Dartmoor) and videos of people, from across the community and overseas, reading Nature-inspired poetry and readings to inspire folks to wake up to the impact of human-induced climate change.

A key ingredient was a time of vigil and reflection by candlelight, shared by many people each evening.

One of the many non-churchgoers who came along said that ‘each evening the stillness felt deeper’ as people of different faith traditions shared this sacred space and prayed for the world and for all involved in the conference.

The final evening included clarinet music, a combined choir performance of Rutter’s ‘Look at the World’, as well as rousing hymns ‘All Creatures of our God and King’ and ‘Now thank we all our God’ – a chance to sing together in praise and longing for a better world.

Images from Oscar-winning artist and designer Alan Lee (who lives in the parish) were projected in the church as part of the eco-events

Todd Jones, a parishioner and one of those who inspired the vigil, said, ‘So many different voices, all sharing moments from their relationship with Nature; this period of contemplation has been inspirational and invigorating.’

Rev’d Paul Seaton-Burn, Team Rector of the North Dartmoor parishes said, ‘It has been a wonder-full, moving and inspiring series of events which has brought many different people together in hope and faith.

“Many people sense that this has been the start of a new chapter in working together and this ancient place of sanctuary and worship has been fundamental to this.

“People (including churchgoers) are rediscovering what a church is for.

“I’ve been humbled by the generosity of Spirit evident through these twelve days and by what can happen when God brings so many different people together, in all their different gifts and good faith.’