USPG Announces School Twinning Programme with the Diocese of Oxford and the CSI

First published on: 19th January 2021

USPG Announces School Twinning Programme with the Diocese of Oxford and the Church of South India

USPG hosted the launch of a new School Twinning Partnership between the Church of South India (CSI) and the Diocese of Oxford on 19 January 2021.  The partnership involves 10 schools from India and 10 from the Oxford region and will focus on exchanging practical actions that can be used to reduce climate change in both the UK and India. This initiative builds on the existing work done by the Church of South India in their Green Schools programme and the efforts of schools in the Diocese of Oxford such as Shinfield St Mary’s, which has received awards for its involvement in climate justice.

The General Secretary of USPG, the Rev’d Duncan Dormor, welcomed representatives of the Church of South India, including Deputy Moderator of the CSI, the Rt Rev’d Reuben Mark, the Rt Rev’d Pushpa Lalitha, the Rt Rev’d M Joseph, Adv. Fernandas Rathina Raja and Prof. Dr Mathew Koshy Punnackad, the Honorary Director of the CSI’s Department of Ecological Concerns. The Rev’d Duncan Dormor welcomed the Rt Rev’d Olivia Graham, the Bishop of Reading, and Mr. Tony Wilson, Director of Education for the Diocese of Oxford. The launch also included headteachers and school students from the schools that will be involved in the programme.

During the launch, the Rt Rev’d Reuben Mark prayed for the children involved in the programme, saying: “Gracious loving and living heavenly Father, may our children gather at this hour to build up a lovely relationship while living poles apart. May you strengthen our commitment, our vision and our passion towards ecological concerns and environmental issues”.

The Rev’d Duncan Dormor said a few words about the initiative, stressing its significance: “We are sowing an important seed, a seed which we hope will grow and blossom, and bear much fruit. The twinning programme is an exciting and beautiful initiative which draws together the work of schools, of teachers, and students across God’s world so that together we may make a big difference. Climate change is the biggest challenge facing us all and we will only be successful in tackling it if we all work together, across continents, sharing our knowledge, our enthusiasm and our commitment to building a better world for all”.

The Rt Revd Olivia Graham spoke of the admiration that she has for the Church of South India, particularly for its leadership and work on ecological justice, and the “deep sense of respect and awe” she has for the Green Schools programme that CSI runs. The Bishop described the twinning initiative as both a venture and an “adventure” and is looking forward to working together to make “eco-warriors”! The Rt Rev’d Reuben Mark spoke of the great privilege he felt to be involved in this programme, and commended USPG for working as a “uniting force, bridging the two different countries”. The Bishop then spoke of the CSI being the first church in India to focus on ecological justice, and of this programme being the first of its kind. Films from schools involved in the programme were shown during the launch and an act of commitment was made by representatives from all partners.

Following the act of commitment, the Rt Rev’d Pushpa Lalitha blessed the Schools Twinning Initiative, praying for all those involved in its planning and implementation.

If you would like to know more about USPG’s work with the Church of South India, click here.