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 more than 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. Climate change is a direct result of our lifestyle and the way we consume; however, the effects of climate change are being felt most harshly by the poor of the world, who are the least responsible and yet the most vulnerable. This is why Christian organisations such as Christian Aid, USPG and Tearfund agree that taking action to reduce our negative impacts on the environment is so urgent.
What are we doing to help care for God’s creation?
In 2017, the PCC agreed that Paul Taylor would coordinate and facilitate the theme of caring for creation within the 4U churches; gathering and encouraging others who were interested in taking action.
In autumn 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 and literature of the Old Testament. Through this series, we thought about how to care for and steward all that God has given us.
As a way to help structure our approach to environmental management, and to track our progress, two of our churches, All Saints Marlow and St John the Baptist, are now participating in the ‘Eco Church’ award scheme.
What is the ‘Eco Church’ award scheme?
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 and that caring for creation as an integral part of loving their neighbours and following God faithfully. It is operated 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 earth 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.
Actions taken by the church and its members 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.
What have we achieved so far?
We undertook the initial Eco Church survey for All Saints Marlow and St John the Baptist in 2017. Since then, each church has carried out actions which have raised awareness of ethical and environmental issues, and contributed to lessening our negative impacts, including the use of LED floodlights and other low-energy light bulbs, having the sermon series about ‘Creation and Creativity’, regularly having a Traidcraft fair trade stall, printing church newsletters double-sided, ‘twinning’ our toilets and having recycling facilities in the church building.
Our hard work paid off in July 2018 when All Saints Marlow was awarded the Eco Church Bronze award, and St John the Baptist was awarded the Silver award.
Since then we have been undertaking further actions, so please look out for ways in which you could help express care for God’s earth in our worship and teaching; in how we look after buildings and land; in how we engage with the local community and in global campaigns, and in your personal life and day-to-day decision making. As a starting point, you could work out your environmental footprint using the WWF calculator.
In 2021, the 4U churches have had a time of eco-focus to help encourage church-wide engagement and exploration of care for creation and climate justice. This included a 4-week sermon series in September entitled ‘Doxecology’, to understand more about how we combine the praise of God (‘doxology’) with concern for the world he has made (‘ecology’). This series of talks connected up our commitment to following Jesus with our care for God’s creation. It showed us why, as Christians, we should appreciate the beauty of God’s creation, care passionately about the desperate plight of the world, hold onto the hope that God gives for a good future, and acknowledge the part we must urgently play in bringing it about.
In November 2021, All Saints Marlow was awarded the Eco Church Silver award.
To get more involved in the Eco Church scheme, please contact Paul Taylor via email@example.com