06 February 2014, The Tablet

Flooding was caused by our unsustainable living, says Lang

by James Macintyre and Abigail Frymann

Simpler lifestyles and better care for the environment are needed to help prevent further flooding, the Bishop of Clifton has said.

In a statement regarding the floods, Bishop Declan Lang called for the Somerset Levels, which are in his diocese, to be dredged on a regular basis. But added that longer term there were wider environmental lessons from the floods, namely “the need to adopt a simple lifestyle.”

He continued: “Be prepared to make sacrifices and live sustainably,” which he said meant interspersing feasts and festivals with times of restraint.

“Sacrifice, an unpopular and unfashionable word, means giving up one’s own needs for the common good of others,” he said. “Sustainable living is working with the earth, not against it. Local communities have come together in the face of flooding. Once the floods have receded, that spirit of community should continue with us all recognising our need to care for one another and the environment of which we are part.”

Meanwhile farmers whose crops or pasture have been ruined by the floods in the Somerset Levels may be forced out of business, a local Anglican vicar has warned.

Revd Jane Twitty, team vicar for an area that includes Muchelney, writes in The Tablet this week of her church’s efforts to support those who have been evacuated from their homes and those whose livelihoods are under threat.

Prince Charles last week visited the village, which has been turned into an island by the bursting of two nearby rivers.

“Those living in the country are familiar with ups and downs in weather and in yields and prices, usually one year balances another, but with a very bad, wet summer in 2012, the floods of 2012-2013 and now the floods this year, some are beginning to question their future,” she told The Tablet.

Christians are among those who have been offering accommodation to those who have been evacuated and a Christian charity, the Farming Community Network, is offering psychological pastoral support to farmers.

She said that before the emergency services established a ferry service, no clergy could reach Muchelney after it was cut off, so local church-goers devised an interdenominational prayer service themselves.

Ms Twitty said the church, the village’s only community building, had opened up 24/7 for prayer and reflection and has invited locals to use it as a place where post, papers and shopping can be left for collection.

“Please continue to pray for us, and for the long-term strategies and solutions, not just ‘quick-fixes’ for the immediate crisis,” she said.

Above: the view from the tower of the Anglican church of St Peter and St Paul, Muchelney

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