I’ve been thinking recently about how we as Christians engage with the concept of ecology…and the concept of a ‘green’ church in particular. Eco-congregation (here) is an interesting place to start thinking on this.

The Salvation Army, as with most other churches, has made great strides forward in embracing the fairtrade and Make Poverty History campaigns. For me, this is really exciting, as it shows a real commitment to social justice, which is right at our core. However, environmentalism is proving to be just as important – finally the evangelical churches in the US plucked up the courage to challenge President Bush on his mindless approach to this issue (old news, I know, but relevant – see here).

I know we can root our argument that Christians should be proactive on this to the instruction in Genesis 1v26-30 and 2v15 to Humanity to manage the Earth’s resources – and I believe that this is just as relevant a social justice issue as any – as the world is increasingly affected by climate change, we in the wealthy west will be able to find numerous ways to protect ourselves and our property – however, the poor would seem to bear the brunt of the devastation (see New Orleans etc.).

So how do we respond? Should we lobby our church leaders to investigate ways of making our buildings more eco-friendly? With a huge fleet of diesel engined cars should we seek to replace these with more environmentally sound machines? Or just encourage our ministers to literally ‘get on their bikes’ again? Imagine what would happen if we as a church made this move – what a statement it would make…

Just tossing this out there…


8 thoughts on “Ecology…

  1. Interesting thoughts Martin! Last year I completed a OU Diploma in Development & Environment and during my study I often thought about the way we as Christians seem to ignore the environment. You might be interested in this article from Christian Aid. There is also a downloadable report!

  2. I’ve been thinking about this too. I see it as part of our responsibility as Christians. We are stewards of God’s creation. I love seeing creation worshipping God – giving glory to God – shouting about how great He is. If God made us to worship Him, isn’t creation there for the same purpose? So it’s our job to keep the world in top condition to keep shouting out to everyone that God is awesome.

  3. I believe there’s a (maybe slightly dated now) book called “The Greening of the Church”. Haven’t read it yet.

    My thoughts on this issue at the moment are something like “it’s great that everyone’s getting all environmental, but my fear is that in a century we’ll look back and think that it was all a very half-hearted effort, and didn’t really make any major difference because we weren’t willing to make any major sacrifices (i.e. car travel).” I might blog on this soon.

  4. I’m going to blog on this subject myself I think as I have too much to say to fit in the comments!

    Willard I think the ‘stewards of creation’ argument is to simplistic. It can and has been used as an excuse to do what we like to creation as well as to protect it!

    Carl I suspect that you’re right on this as many Christians are just not responsible enough and not willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary!

  5. I’ve been wanting to find more enviromentally sound ways of getting around in my job – problem with being in the SW is that trains, buses etc. are pretty rubbish and very expensive. It also means that at either end you have to use taxis or rely on the good nature of those you’re visiting.

    I’ve also wanted to cycle to work, but as we have no shower I end up stinking all day (sorry, but it’s true!)!

    Maybe as a Corps Officer I’ll be able to do more on my bike?

  6. Until I return to SA Officership I am an environmental strategist employed by the London Borough of Bromley I am saddened by two things –

    1) How the church ignore sustainable development

    2) How all things green have been hijacked by the New Age movement.

    For many years experts have disagreed over the causes of global warming. The problem is complicated and the debate important because if the ‘believers’ are right and if we do not do all we can to reduce man’s contribution the impact could become irreversible.

    The world’s local temperatures have always gone through periods of natural fluctuation but during the past 50 years the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate since records began. Although there is no irrefutable evidence (as yet) most environmentalists believe this pattern is accelerating: the 10 hottest years on record have all been record during the last 26 years.

    Carbon dioxide is the most common greenhouse gas. We call these gasses greenhouse gasses because they clog the atmosphere and act like panes of glass in a greenhouse – they let heat in but don’t let it out. These gasses are trapping the sun’s rays and causing the planet to heat up. Fossil fuel burning power plants are the largest source of carbon dioxide pollution – in the US alone coal-fired power stations produce 2.5 billion tonnes of Co2 pollution every year. Cars and other petrol driven vehicles are the second largest source. In addition reduction of the rainforests (the earth’s lungs – breathing in Co2 and breathing out oxygen) continued growth in industries working with hydrocarbons and the concentrated farming of cattle (methane producers) are all considered contributing factors.

    Unbelievers argue that climate change is a purely natural phenomenon, that man’s effect on nature is exaggerated. Whatever our view the disturbing fact is that for several years, the earth’s temperature has been rising. The problem remains in deciding what if anything we can do about it.

    Global warming is a complex system, and its ultimate impact is difficult to accurately predict. But on an annual basis its impact is beginning to be seen, and many scientists agree that the following scenarios are likely to occur if the production of these gasses is not reduced.

    · Melting of the polar ice cap causing serious water shortages in the American West.
    · Rising sea levels causing coastal flooding on the Eastern seaboard, impacting upon Florida, and other areas, like the Gulf of Mexico.
    · The surface temperatures of the oceans will increase causing extreme hurricanes in the south-eastern Atlantic and along the Gulf coast.
    · Forests, farms and cities will face troublesome new pests and more mosquito-borne diseases.
    · Destruction of natural habitats such as coral reefs and alpine meadows causing the extinction of many plant and animal species.

    Even the White House now agrees that man is partly to blame for this phenomenon see the BBC report below:

    “The US Government has acknowledged for the first time that man-made pollution is largely to blame for global warming. But it has again refused to shift its position on the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty designed to mitigate global warming which the Bush administration rejected last year. In a 268-page report submitted to the United Nations, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) endorsed what many scientists have long argued – that human activities such as oil refining, power generation and car emissions are significant causes of global warming. The White House had previously said there was not enough scientific evidence to blame industrial emissions for global warming. The submission of the EPA report came on the same day that all 15 European Union nations ratified the Kyoto pact.”

    I have tried to be balanced but the problem is that there are very few people left in the scientific world (with the exception of DB or those commissioned by the energy industry) who are not now convinced that global warming has been, and continues to be, made worse by mankind.

    What can we do?

    · Walk not drive.
    · Drive fuel efficient cars if we must.
    · Reduce, repair, reuse (and if absolutely necessary) recycle our rubbish
    · Put a jumper on and turn the heating down
    · Use natural light on a Sunday and turn the hall lights off
    · Practice ethical banking
    · Give sustainable Christmas and birthday gifts (a goat for a 3rd world family to your Aunty instead of a box of chocolates)

    Hey I don’t need to go on, this isn’t a school talk, it’s common sense.

    2 Chronicles 7:13-15

    “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”

    I hope this helps.

    Love and prayers Andrew

  7. Woh – excellent comment, Andrew! Provides the kind of in-depth study I hadn’t even begun to do.

    How’s about writing something like that for TSA – article in the Salvo or something (I know it has limited readership, but it would open a discussion)?

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