Creationtide, a Church season initiated in 1989 by the Orthodox Church and since adopted by Anglicans and Catholics, began on September 1st with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and it runs throughout the month until October 4th. Then on 8th October begins Climate Week – a ‘week of action’ initiated by the Climate Coalition which includes over 100 organisations, from Christian Aid to WWF ( https://weekofaction.org.uk/about/).
Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si’ said that we should protect creation as a vital part of our Christian faith. It’s not just about saving water or energy in our own backyard (or switching to renewable energy for our churches, as some 3500 in the UK have done) but also about directly helping people threatened, and already severely affected, by climate change. For some of them, it’s about saving the very land they live on and cultivate. Watch the Bishop of Salisbury’s video on www.youtube.com/dioceseofsalisbury, in which Bishop Nicholas Holtam (formerly of St Martin in the Fields) says:
‘The care of creation is a top priority for every Christian disciple in our day. It’s clear in scripture that God wants us to steward this beautiful Earth … We all know there is no planet B.”
The Church Times reported on this in the same issue as an article by Angus Ritchie, Director of the Centre for Theology and Community (CTC), entitled ‘Church growth is mainly about attitude’. Even as we approach Harvest Festival, we may recoil at the thought of ‘church plants’ or simply think they are for the East End of London, not the Cotswolds, but Ritchie is keen to rescue the concept of church growth from Evangelicalism: it is ‘attitude rather than theological tradition’ which determines growth.
He quotes three key ingredients in the increases in attendance he has seen, even in ‘modern Catholic’ churches, and makes the point that this applies to slowing the rate of decline and not just ‘headline growth in numbers’. One of those ingredients is ‘a commitment to action for the common good with people beyond the walls of the church’.
What better way to start to show we care than to join the Speak Up week of climate action which Christian Aid is encouraging from 8th-16th October along with others in the Climate Coalition, from the Iona Community to the National Union of Students. The focus this year is on ‘showing the love’ we have for our environment and for our fellow human beings across the planet. Rather than lobbying at Westminster as was done in the run-up to the Paris talks last year, we want to get people, including our MP (if we have one), talking about the issues in our local communities.
Thank God that our new UK government has, as I write, finally committed to not just signing but joining the Paris agreement – as China, the US, and 60 other countries around the world have already done. So that’s the politics: what about our own ethics? Well, have a look at http://climatecare.org/50-ideas-for-shrinking-your-carbon-footprint/.
We all have our favourite charities, but Christian Aid’s contribution to West Oxfordshire’s Climate Week is a visit to Kencot Solar Farm, starting with an informative introduction at St John’s Carterton at 11 am on October 10th. More here, where you can also put yourself, literally, on the map
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