Loving Earth Project: South Belfast Meeting’s story

Bronwen Haire shares her experience getting involved in the Loving Earth Project, sharing how South Belfast Meeting used Loving Earth to bring them together in lockdown 

Loving Earth Project: South Belfast Meeting’s story Woodbrooke Quaker learning and research
Loving Earth panel by Freya Jordan from South Belfast Meeting

I was fortunate to be asked by Ireland Yearly Meeting to be a representative at the European and Middle East section annual gathering, which was held online due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. It was a most interesting and inspiring meeting. In one of the sessions, Maud Grainger from Woodbrooke introduced us to the Loving Earth Project and took us through a guided meditation to help us reflect on what we loved that is threatened by the climate crisis, how we might be contributing to the threat and what we might do? This activity involves a creative process that can lead to creating panels to capture our responses. Many of these beautiful panels that have already been made are on the  Loving Earth website to view.

Following the EMES Meeting, I felt prompted to introduce the loving earth project to my own Meeting, South Belfast. I had the opportunity to do this firstly to the ECO Quaker group within the meeting. They were meeting every other week online during lockdown. It seemed to be well received and one of the members of this group subsequently did their own panel. We then began to think about the meeting more widely.

South Belfast Meeting

Loving Earth Project: South Belfast Meeting’s story Woodbrooke Quaker learning and research
One of the South Belfast Quaker pannels, made by Evelyn Shire.  “The picture represents “connectedness” between water – trees/plants – and the bird at the centre. That we are all interconnected. .”

South Belfast Meeting has for some years held an all age Meeting for Worship at least once a year. This is generally a themed Meeting where the children and young people, guided by adults, take the lead in “ prepared” ministry, interspersed with silent worship.

During lockdown although our zoom Meeting for Worship was well attended, and we welcomed overseas visitors and former members who no longer living nearby, we weren’t seeing as many of the families and young people participating.

I suggested to Elders and Overseers we could use the Loving Earth project, running it for 2 weeks as an all-age meeting. I contacted the families, to encourage them to attend these Meetings for Worship. I also prepared bags of scrap fabrics and left them at the Meeting House on an appointed day for Friends to collect. 

Loving Earth as all-age worship 

At the two Sunday Meetings for Worship, held at the end of May, I presented the Loving Earth project to the Meeting sharing the screen to show some of the pa

nels already made. Then I presented an adapted version of the guided meditation:

  • Is there something you love which is endangered by environmental breakdown? – person, place, object, animal, activity, or experience
  • Imagine what it might be like in 20 or 30 years?
  • How do you feel about this?
  • What is the most radical thing you can imagine that would help reduce the threat?
  • What can you do?
  • What help might you need?
  • What might you need to find out about?

During Meeting for Worship, we divided into breakout rooms and talked to each other and drew preliminary pictures. After this, we resumed our Meeting for Worship.

On the second week, I displayed some more of the panels from the gallery, and then we held our Meeting for Worship without further programming.

Two families participated in making panels alongside a number of other individuals. I’m still nudging folk to think about making a panel. I was amazed at the panels Friends produced, so thought-provoking, and beautifully executed.

Loving Earth Project: South Belfast Meeting’s story Woodbrooke Quaker learning and research
Bee made by Elijah Jordan from South Belfast Meeting

Further possibilities

We might hold an exhibition in the autumn/winter, to show some of what we did during the lockdown, as an environmental and outreach opportunity. Friends also invited everyone in the Meeting to make short video recordings, which have been put together into a series of short films about “being grateful” during lockdown.

Both projects are on our web site (southbelfastquakers.org) and our Facebook page (South Belfast Quakers Facebook page). The panels were also displayed on our WhatsApp group one each day for a week.

I made a very simple panel to begin with, using it for demonstration. Having attended one of the technique workshops with Linda and Lottie from the Loving Earth project, I feel more inspired to attempt another panel and be a bit more adventurous in style and technique.

I am thinking about offering the Loving Earth Project to other Meetings in Ireland. I feel the online presentation works very well, but as we resume physical Meetings, I would have to think about how to present it. Maybe the whole exhibition will be able to come to Ireland sometime in the future.

Woodbrooke is offering Loving Earth Project workshops for meetings. These can range from a single introductory session to a series of sessions to get you started on panel making.
Find out more about Loving Earth online sessions for your Quaker community.
Contact us on learning@woodbrooke.org.uk


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