Taking care of God’s Creation

(Diocese of Southwark’s “Noticeboard”, July 2013)

Like many people I hope at some stage during July and August to get away on holiday, preferably to somewhere hot.  Getting the right combination of heat, holiday and happiness is partly dependent on the vagaries of the weather.  It is often said that our weather patterns are changing, and that behind that is the challenge of climate change, one of the biggest issues facing humanity in the 21st century.

In the depths of the most serious economic recession since the 1930s climate change has taken a back seat in the attention of many people, not least politicians.  There is a real and urgent need to bring climate change back to the centre of our attention, and the Church can play a key role in this.

At a recent clergy and reader symposium in the Kingston Episcopal Area, Professor Chris Rapley, Professor of Climate Change Science at University College, London, and a former Director of the Science Museum, made it abundantly clear that the overwhelming scientific opinion is that climate change is real, and that human activity is a genuine and serious factor.  But there is also much obfuscation and denial, often fuelled by immense vested interests.  We prefer a ‘reassuring lie’ to ‘an inconvenient truth’.

At the same symposium, Bishop David Atkinson, outlined a deep theological and biblical framework which drew particularly on the concept of covenant, and God’s purposes for Creation.   This gave a powerful Christian imperative for getting involved and taking action.  Both talks can be heard on my website

Last November our Diocesan Synod approved an environment policy entitled ‘Taking Care of God’s Creation’.  It is commendably brief, and includes the biblical vision, how this issue is a key part of the Church’s Mission, and also describes plenty of resources for taking action, at both individual and local levels.  I hope and pray that this will become part of the ‘DNA’ of our Diocese in the next few years.

There are some immediate things we can do.  Firstly, at the beginning of July our Diocesan Synod will be debating a motion concerning the long term investment in fossil fuels.  This will encourage us to think carefully about developing sustainable, non-fossil fuel dependent, patterns of living for the future.

Secondly, every parish can monitor, and adapt,  its energy use via an easy tool called ‘the S- Measure’, details of which are on the C of E’s ‘Shrinking the Footprint’ website.

And thirdly, we can take seriously the challenge of becoming ‘eco-congregations’, using the excellent material from the Eco-congregation website.

And fourthly we can have a clear environmental element in our worship – especially during the season of ‘Creationtide’ which runs from 1st September to 4th October.  Again there are many liturgical resources for this listed on the Diocesan Environment Policy leaflet.

I know that many people and parishes are deeply concerned already, but I also pray, that as we enjoy the summer, we will take time to reflect on how we can further develop our part in ‘Taking care of God’s Creation’.