We believe that God created the universe in all its diversity and complexity and beauty and that humankind, uniquely on Earth, has the responsibility and privilege to be stewards of that creation. Challenging our own and society’s complacency, short-termism and selfishness is the defining struggle of our times, and we intend to play our part with prayerful determination and generosity.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.Genesis 1:1 & 31
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
To guide our initial actions as a church community, we are using the Eco Church framework. This guides us to review our individual and collective actions in five categories:
- Worship and Teaching
- Management of church buildings
- Management of church land
- Community and global engagement
Once sufficient progress has been made in each area, a church (and it is considered on a church by church basis, rather than the Benefice as a whole) can be rated as a Bronze, Silver or eventually Gold Eco Church. We are very much at the start of this process but, already, St Leonard’s in Semley and St John’s in Charlton have achieved Bronze status, with other Benefice churches hot on their heels.
Examples of what we have done and are doing include:
- preaching on the Gospel’s themes of climate and social justice
- replacing lighting with low energy and LED bulbs when they “blow”
- changing churchyard mowing regimes to provide wildflower and native habitats for insects etc.
- actively encouraging swifts to nest in church towers
- community litter-picks
- undertaking environmental audits (personally and collectively)
- inviting local farmers, land managers and environmentalists to speak in services
- reinvigorating the links between the cycles of church worship and the farming year
- taking part in local tree-planting schemes
- recognising the interconnectedness of our global ecosystem by e.g. toilet twinning and using Fairtrade products
- ceasing the use of oasis foam for flower arrangements and using locally cut flowers
- investigating the installation of solar panels on various churches as part of addressing our energy use
There is still so much more to do, and we will do it without complacency or despair, but with commitment and hope.
Caring for God’s creation is a spiritual commission requiring a response of commitment. This is a critical moment. Our children’s future and the future of our common home depend on it.Archbishop Justin Welby, Pope Francis, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew