02 March: Revd Emma Handley

The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.

Isaiah 65:25



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A reflection from Revd Emma Handley - St Paul’s, Stalybridge

The relationship between my church and the local council has been adversarial for many years. The point of contention all hinges around whose responsibility it is to maintain our huge, closed graveyard. Years of wrangling plus a disastrous landscaping scheme have left it in a state of neglect and diminished biodiversity, a literal dead zone surrounding the church – a wasteland, and testament to the combined effect of two institutions shirking their responsibility and not working together.

This is not the vision held out to us of God’s kingdom. The vision of Isaiah gives us a glimpse of unity and peace, the wolf lying down with the lamb, lines of enmity dissipating, and a healing and blossoming of our land and ecosystems as a consequence.

Challenged by our calling to bring in God’s kingdom in the here and now my church has sought to engage with our council, and we are embarking on an ambitious tree-planting scheme with City of Trees. Our aim is to increase biodiversity, introduce more trees to our city and through community involvement make God’s acre a local resource rather than a no-go area.  It’s a necessity that has been highlighted by Lockdown. People need green spaces. We need Eden, but Eden also needs us to live up to our calling and responsibility and steward.


A prayer

Dear Lord

Challenge me this Lent to identify where enmity exists in my relationships with others and the land. Strengthen me to bring peace and healing into these places, and let your kingdom come.


Revd Emma Handley,
St Paul’s, Stalybridge



Information Point

City of Trees are doing amazing work in the Greater Manchester area.  If you want to see our urban areas going green – take a look and be inspired.

City of Trees


Page last updated: 16th February 2021 4:00 PM