Tag Archives: creation

Who wants to be an Eco Church?

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Who cares about the environment?

Do you? Are you worried about air pollution in our cities causing premature deaths among children and the elderly? Are you concerned about the rising tide of plastics filling the seas? Concerned enough to get your own reusable drink containers? Have you watched in horror as tropical storms have devastated the Caribbean while floods have driven millions from their homes in Asia and drought has brought further millions to the brink of starvation in East Africa?

Something needs to be done! But whose responsibility is it? Is it the job of environmentalists and ecologists? Will governments act? Or businesses? Or is it down to individuals? What about the church? Do Christians and the church have a duty to act, or is the environment beyond the responsibility of an organisation whose primary purpose is the glory of God and the care of souls?

The exhortation to look after God’s creation has been with us since the beginning of humanity. The way the heavens and the earth display the glory of God is woven throughout the Bible. Our responsibility to ensure we manage our resources so there is enough for everyone is shouted in the voices of the prophets. And the Biblical principles of Sabbath and Jubilee demonstrate how we should live in harmony with the earth and its seasons, not exploiting it for every last grain or drop.

When we care for our world, we care for its people too. Or, conversely, if we want to serve our communities, we must also be concerned about the environment in which they live. And that includes our sisters and brothers in the poorest communities in the world, bearing the brunt of the dramatically changing climate caused by the carbon emissions of the rich.

So, now that I’ve convinced you that action to tackle climate change and take care of the planet is part of the church’s mission to love God and all his people, what are we going to do about it?

I spent last Saturday at A’Rocha’s Northern Eco Church conference, with a bunch of other people with a desire to green the church. A’Rocha is a Christian conservation charity at heart, and out of this passion it has devised a toolkit to help churches do what they can to become more involved with care for the environment. The Eco Church scheme provides a structure to help churches act and the award recognises and celebrates what has been achieved.

The award covers five areas. Worship and Teaching encourages churches to include climate and environmental themes in its songs, prayers and sermons across all ages and groups. Management of buildings covers issues of heating, lighting, renewable energy, insulation and energy efficiency. Management of land considers how churchyards are managed for the benefit of wildlife and the people in the surrounding area. Churchyards are now the last remaining homes of some of our most endangered indigenous species. Global and community engagement gets churches involved with wider environmental issues on a national and global scale and encourages them to engage with the holders of power who can make a difference. And the final section, lifestyle, challenges us all to consider our own carbon footprint, what we eat, how we travel, what we buy, so that the whole congregation can act to transform our world.

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Holy Trinity Thorpe Hesley

In the Sheffield area, 6 churches are registered to become eco churches. Christ Church Stocksbridge and St Leonard’s Dinnington are on their way. Bannercross Methodists and Dronfield Baptists have a bronze award, and Holy Trinity Thorpe Hesley and Saint Andrew’s Psalter Lane are silver award holders. On Saturday I met people from St Luke’s Lodge Moor, St Thomas Crookes, St Thomas Philadelphia, Crowded House church and the Cathedral. Along with my church (All Saints Ecclesall) I wonder which one will be next. Perhaps it will be yours?

 

 

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Warp and Weft

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This is my friend’s creation – check out her Facebook Page

As Diocesan Environmental Office for Sheffield Diocese, I went to my first DEO day yesterday, feeling very green. Green in the sense of feeling inexperienced, rather than in the environmental sense! I’ve had the role for a few months, but with only a day a week to devote to it and school summer holidays taken over by family illness (all better now) I feel I’ve hardly got started. It certainly showed up what I don’t know – do we even have a diocesan environmental policy? Any eco-congregations? Any churches or parsonages with solar panel? Lots to discover.

I was inspired too, by the stories other DEOs shared. Stories of Cathedrals with solar panels and winning eco-church awards, stories of schemes to help churches switch to green energy, stories of community environmental projects which build relationships as well as care for creation, stories of simple pledges people can make to reduce their carbon footprint. My mind is whirring. How can we bring these things to bear in Sheffield Diocese?

But most of all, the day seemed to keep coming back to one word – ‘embed’. How do we embed our creation care into our everyday church life – our liturgy, our spirituality, our mission, our social justice, our discipleship? How do we make sure it is the warp and weft of who we are, what we do?

We finished with the Rt Rev Richard Cheetham, Bishop of Kingston, and so I will too. Creation care and tackling climate change flow directly from the Gospel. Right now, creation is groaning (Romans 8:22), but through Christ, all things have been reconciled to God (Colossians 1:20). We have been given creation as a gift (Genesis 1:28-29), but it is not ours to exploit (Leviticus 19:9-10) much less to destroy. It is entrusted to us for future generations until creation is restored and renewed. As we live out our calling to be the body of Christ and to be Good News for the world, our commitment to the care of the world is central to our identity in Christ.