This event, postponed from Summer 2020 is going ahead immediately after lockdown is (we pray) lifted.
Many people will be aware that Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) was extraordinarily in tune with nature. There are many stories of him communicating with animals and birds (more here) and in 1979 he was named the Patron Saint of Ecology.
Today, the Society of Saint Francis (SSF) is a world-wide Anglican order of friars that follow and teach St Francis's message. Brother Sam has been the Minister Provincial of the European Province of SSF and we are delighted that he is coming to lead the weekend, along with eminent local naturalists. We are aiming for a joyful, fun, instructive, active and challenging weekend led by a national authority who, for example, contributed to the St Paul's Cathedral online seminar Is COVID-19 a wake-up call to us?
The weekend starts on Saturday 26 June, 2021 at around 4.15am (yup) with a short walk to Hill Farm to watch the sun come up, after which Brother Sam will lead us in The Canticle of the Creatures – the song of Brother Sun, written by St Francis in 1224.
It's a bit too early to go home, so local ornithologist Mike Harvey will take us for a birdsong wander, returning to church for a delicious vegetarian breakfast.
Throughout the weekend (10am to 5pm both days) there will be an Exhibition of Beauty, to which you may like to contribute! Have you taken photographs or painted a picture that illustrate the beauty of the Earth? Could you do a flower arrangement? Craft something beautiful (pottery, tapestry, needlework, woodwork, ...)?
At 12.30pm, have an excellent vegetarian lunch with Brother Sam, including his keynote talk. Title to be announced but it may be Why is care of the planet a spiritual matter?
At 3pm, Brother Sam will lead what he calls a Five Senses Walk, with an emphasis on experience rather than exercise with, of course, tea and cake back at church when we finish.
We wanted this to be a genuine celebration of all things good about this life, so someone said, "What about a ceilidh on Saturday evening?" Yes! Is this a first for Hethel Church; we guess so and think it's doable for 50 people, perhaps not all dancing at once. Skylarking – what a name for this event! – are a Suffolk ceilidh band who are up for leading us, starting at 7.00pm.
On Sunday 27 June, Brother Sam will speak at the Bracon Ash Holy Communion – a sharing of bread and wine in memory of Jesus's death and resurrection (9am).
At 11am, there is another opportunity to join Brother Sam's Five Senses Walk, with a soup and bread lunch available afterwards.
For many years, we have been privileged to have Dr Anne Edwards provide expertise and person power in managing the churchyard as a wildflower meadow. She was awarded the BEM in 2015 for services to the environment - not least being the first person to identify Ash Dieback. Join Anne, funny and incredibly knowledgeable by turns, at 2.15pm for a local wander: Sightings.
For most of the weekend, refreshments will be available in church, and certainly after Anne's walk. Our purpose in running this weekend is to promote creation care; a useful side benefit will be to raise some money after a difficult 2020. As part of the general plan to enhance the church building, the church council is hoping to refurbish the most interesting ledger (floor slab) and the metal plaques in the mausoleum. More ambitiously, can we raise enough in the next year or two to get the bell back in action and allow public access to the tower?
Finally, at 4.30pm, Brother Sam SSF will lead us in a Short Service for a Summer Afternoon.