Caring for God’s creation
World trade has brought huge benefits to rich countries and big companies. However, imbalances of power and resources mean that the poor often cannot compete, and are trapped in unjust cycles of exploitation and inequality.
Sometimes our search for a bargain, or the latest gadget, is at the expense of the natural world and other people. If everyone on earth had a similar lifestyle to us, and used as many natural resources, we would need up to three earths to cope with demand.
Earth’s climate is changing, significantly beyond that solely caused by natural factors. This is primarily due to the release of carbon dioxide and methane from the burning of fossil fuels, intensive farming, deforestation and production of goods. We all use energy, food and other resources every day – at home, at work and when we travel – and carbon dioxide and methane are by-products of this use. Climate change is a direct result of our lifestyle and the way we consume, and it affects everyone on earth.
The effects of climate change will be felt most harshly by those least responsible, and least able to adapt to these changes; namely poor people in developing countries. They are the most vulnerable to natural disasters; the most reliant on harvests coming at the right time; and the least able to move from affected regions. This is why Christian charities such as Christian Aid and Tearfund are in agreement that taking action to reduce our impacts on the environment is so urgent.
In September 2017, 4U churches had a short series of sermons about ‘Creation and Creativity’, exploring the rich vein of biblical teaching around creator and creation, drawing on the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. Through this series, we thought about how to care for and steward all that God has given us;
Paul Taylor is coordinating and facilitating the theme of caring for creation within the 4U churches, working through the ‘Eco Church 4U’ small group in order to gather and encourage others who are interested in taking action.
4U churches are engaging with the national ‘Eco Church’ award scheme, and so far All Saints Marlow and St John the Baptist Little Marlow have undertaking an initial survey as part of the scheme and will be building on this as part of the small group.
Further teaching and interactive elements, based on these themes, will be encouraged within church services, the children and youth work, as well as in other aspects of church life.
Eco Church is an award scheme for churches in England and Wales who want to demonstrate that the gospel is good news for God’s earth. It was developed, and is run, by A Rocha UK – a charity committed to helping Christians in the UK to care for the natural world.
The free online survey and supporting resources are designed to equip churches to express care for God’s world in worship and teaching; in how to look after buildings and land; in how to engage with the local community and in global campaigns, and in the personal lifestyles of the congregation.
The actions taken will count towards a prestigious Eco Church Award at Bronze, Silver or Gold level. The available resources can be used to help move the church forward from one award to the next, thereby improving performance and depth of engagement.
A Rocha UK’s vision is for churches of all denominations to care for creation as an integral part of loving their neighbours and following God faithfully.
All Saints’ Church, Marlow and St John the Baptist, Little Marlow have both undertaken the initial Eco Church survey and are working towards the Bronze Award. Actions which have raised awareness of ethical and environmental issues, and contributed to lessening our negative impacts, include the use of LED floodlights and other low-energy light bulbs, having a sermon series about ‘Creation and Creativity’, having a Traidcraft fair trade stall, printing church newsletters double-sided, and having recycling facilities in the church building.