Helping churches to think globally and act locally
A Rocha Eco-congregation is an ecumenical program to help churches make the link between environmental issues and their Christian faith and respond in practical action in the church and wider community.
Eco-congregation (USA) is a project of A Rocha USA, a 501(c) organization
Feedback on Eco-Congregation (USA) is encouraged.
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“It is not too late. God’s world has incredible healing powers. Within a single generation, we could steer the earth toward our children’s future. Let that generation start now, with God’s help and blessing.”
Joint Statement by Pope John Paul II and Patriarch
Bartholomew I of Constantinople, June 2002
“As we reflect on the signs of the times, we may realize that the edifice of the dominant worldview is beginning to crumble. It is a worldview in which human beings have seen themselves as separated from the rest of God’s creation and free to pursue the dream of unlimited material growth and consumption. In its place, the edifice of a new, alternative vision is beginning to emerge. This edifice of a new global civilization of love is marked by values of solidarity, sustainability, and justice, and a profound respect for life that extends to all of creation.”
A Franciscan Statement on Global Climate Change, http://www.hnp.org/jpic/pdf/HNP-Statement-on-Climate-Change.pdf
An invitation to change the world…
Memo from the Children of the 22nd Century
To: Churches across North America
Date: The start of the 21st century Dear Mothers and Fathers,
We write to invite your church to play a role in helping to care for the environment and nurture the well-being of people across the earth. It is now vital to plan and act to ensure that the needs of your generation are met without compromising the ability of our generation to enjoy life in fullness too. Some of your contemporaries say that it can’t be done. We say that it must be done!
Imagine that you are in a large Ark called Planet Earth. Instead of having two of every creature on board, you have the whole created order! Your challenge is to manage the finite stocks and renewable resources so that you and we, and those that will follow us, can have a share. You must also ensure that the rest of creation is respected and not desecrated. We don’t want to be left with your waste in the form of pollution and a ravaged earth. It is a tall order, and one that requires your immediate thought and action, for the well-being of tomorrow’s world is in your hands this day. On behalf of tomorrow’s children
The environment is borderless
We live in an increasingly global society. A stone cast in a pond in one place can cause ripples in places far and wide. A hiccup in a commodity market can spell hunger for a farmer in a developing nation. An environmental accident in one nation can quickly spread downwind and downstream to other nations. Neither economics nor environmental incidents obey international, political or geographical boundaries.
Here are three examples of that phenomenon:
Pelicans oiled by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (www.gokill.com) - 2010
Fukushima nuclear accident (after the Japanese tsunami; www.environmentalgraffiti.com ) – 2011
Acid rain damage: sulfur dioxide from North America affects Europe (www.treehugger.com)
This global linkage applies to our lifestyles. The way that we choose to live can have an impact, for good or for ill, on people in developing nations and the environment across the world, today and for future generations.
This module is designed to help churches and individuals identify those areas where they can make a positive impact on the well-being of the environment and the poorest people in developing nations. It features information about issues and campaigns together with ideas for action.
“Justice and ecology are linked indissolubly” - Archbishop Desmond Tutu
“Environmental degradation makes the life of the poor especially unbearable” – Pope Benedict XVI
One World Week
One World Week (http://www.oneworldweek.org/) believes that when we understand each other's perspectives, our lives can be transformed and enriched.
“My picture of a green church is a community committed to caring for the earth,
a church co-operating to steward the earth’s resources, Christ’s body collaborating across the globe.”
Revd. Penny Jones, Minister, St John’s Rookhope Anglican/Methodist Church.
One World Week aims to:
enable groups at local level to work across boundaries such as culture, ethnicity, gender and creed, and to recognize we are part of one world in combating inequality and discrimination.
celebrate the good things about being part of a diverse yet interconnected world
learn about what’s going on in that world – both on our doorsteps and far away
take action to change the things that cause injustice, poverty and degradation.
OWW springs into life when thousands of activists in the UK and around the world prepare eight days each October (though OWW encourages events at any time of year) as a focus for celebrating and sharing the richness and diversity of the world we all inhabit. Drawing on the inspiration of an annually changing theme, local committees - that include churches, interfaith and community groups - organize educational and celebratory events, to build understanding and links between people.
The OWW website offers inspiration, ideas, downloadable resources and links to other organizations’ resources on each year's specific theme, to help you plan OWW events, or to incorporate OWW into existing programs and events.
How could your church celebrate and mark OWW?
Testimony from Arizona
The Flagstaff Federated Community Church takes part in a lot of globally oriented activities:
Earth Friendly Coffee Shop. The first Sunday of each month we hold the Coffee Shop in our fellowship hall, selling shade-grown coffee and other earth-friendly products such as tea, cocoa, nuts, greeting cards, ceramic mugs and canvas tote bags.
Earth Day Celebration. Christians for the Earth works with the minister and the Worship Team to plan our church’s Earth Day celebration. We have also sponsored the Blessing of the Animals for many years.
Sustainable Gift Baskets. We make gift baskets for new members joining our congregation, for guest speakers and to acknowledge other special occasions. The gift baskets include Equal Exchange coffee, tea or cocoa (along with information explaining these environmentally friendly products), a church coffee mug, a book on the history of Federated, a Christians for the Earth
bookmark and cookies. We believe that the gift baskets are a way of connecting with new members and introducing them to sustainable products.
Sherry Golden, Christians for the Earth, Flagstaff Federated Community Church, Flagstaff, Arizona, http://www.flagstafffederatedchurch.org/
“Plant With Purpose is a Christian, environmental non-profit organization that transforms lives in rural areas worldwide where poverty is caused by deforestation. Focusing on holistic solutions to poverty, Plant With Purpose has been restoring the lives of the rural poor for over 25 years by planting trees, creating economic opportunity through micro-credit and micro-enterprise, implementing sustainable agriculture programs, and encouraging spiritual renewal…”
“Water Missions International is a non-profit Christian engineering ministry providing sustainable safe water solutions, through a Christian world view perspective, to people in developing countries and disasters. We approach all our work with a sense of urgency and a commitment to excellence. Our faith and our belief in the sanctity of life compel us to develop and implement the best technologies and community development programs so that, through our work, God will be honored and glorified and lives will be transformed for eternity…”
“Oxfam America is an international relief and development organization that creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice. Together with individuals and local groups in more than 90 countries, Oxfam saves lives, helps people overcome poverty, and fights for social justice. We are one of the 17 affiliates in the international confederation Oxfam.
“Opportunity International was one of the first nonprofit organizations to recognize the benefits of providing small business loans as capital to those working their way out of poverty. Today, we offer loans, savings, insurance and training to clients around the globe, and we’re expanding our reach through technological innovations and strategic initiatives.
“Our vision is a world in which all people have the opportunity to provide for their families and build a fulfilling life. Our mission is to empower people to work their way out of poverty, transforming their lives, their children’s futures and their communities.
“Opportunity International responds to Jesus Christ’s call to love and serve the poor by providing microfinance services, including lending, savings, insurance and transformational training, to people in need. To do this, we build and work through sustainable, local microfinance institutions.
“We believe that as a Christian organization, we are called by Jesus Christ to serve the poor. Just as some Christian organizations are called to provide disaster relief, build houses, or plant churches, Opportunity International has been called to bring hope and justice to the poorest of the poor through microfinance…”
Stories from churches
St John’s Church of Scotland in Hamilton got their Eco-Congregation activities off to a flying start by holding a “Going for Green” week culminating in two special services. The evening service included a musical about rainforest conservation, “The Emerald Crown", presented by St John’s Primary school, which put across a very serious message about the threats to the rainforest in a light-hearted way. The church went on to raise £2234 through their Harvest Appeal and Craft Fair for Plant with Purpose (profiled above), which aims, through loan schemes and education programs, to help tropical subsistence farmers to move away from ‘slash and burn’ agriculture, which destroys the rainforests, towards more sustainable farming practices
Hilary Ash from St David’s United Reformed Church in Eastham, Wirral writes:
In 2003, rather than having a traditional Harvest Supper, we held a Bangladeshi evening. As a church we support Christian Aid’s Commitment for Life Program and Bangladesh is our link country. The organizer approached our local Bangladeshi restaurant, the Spice Garden, for advice on cooking a not-too-spicy but reasonably authentic meal. The owners are not church-linked and did not know about Commitment for Life. However, they rapidly became enthusiastic and provided free of charge a special Bangladeshi chicken curry. A church member who is a caterer made rice, Bengal dahl, riata and poppadums (and a savory mince for those who couldn’t tackle the curry). One of our younger members visited Bangladesh last year with FURY (Fellowship of United Reformed Youth). She presented a Christian Aid video and amplified it with information. We also had a fun quiz, a Traidcraft stall and a display of Bangladeshi wares. We raised £189 for Commitment for Life and had a good social evening.
Margaret Keir from Fairlie Parish Church of Scotland writes:
For Harvest 2002, we arranged with the Minister that the Christian Aid workshop materials “Planting trees, planting life” should be used for the service. It was a fun service in which the children participated fully. The offering was sent to Christian Aid for the Tree of Life Appeal, to help with the planting of saplings “to protect the soil and supply food such as almonds and apricots” in Afghanistan “struggling with the aftermath of war and four years of severe drought.” We have since received an update from Afghanistan expressing their gratitude and indicating how the people “have benefited from seed, water and fertilizers. This is the first year since the drought began that (they) have wheat from the land, as well as water melon, cumin and barley.”
As the 21st century begins, several major Christian development agencies are focusing some of their campaigning work on the issue of trade. The following are some thoughts on trade, drawn from the OWW 2000 Ecumenical Worship Anthology.
People and the Earth are God’s creation and the goods of the Earth are intended for all to share. These are fundamental principles of Christian belief. For a Christian, people are always more important than profit. Rich countries and businesses do not just have rights, but also responsibilities towards people and the environment. Human lives should not be sacrificed on the altar of the new god of free trade. Justice demands that if trade is carried out between two partners who are not equal in power or wealth, every effort must be made to ensure that the trade is fair. “
“Not to enable the poor to share our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.”
St John Chrysostom
Listening and responding to God’s word…
Listen to this, you that trample on the needy and try to destroy the poor of the country. You say to yourselves, “We can hardly wait for the holy days to be over so that we can sell our corn. When will the Sabbath end, so that we can start selling again? Then we can overcharge, use false measures, and tamper with the scales to cheat our customers. We can sell worthless wheat at a high price. We’ll find a poor man who can’t pay his debts, not even the price of a pair of sandals, and we’ll buy him as a slave.” The Lord, the God of Israel, has sworn, “I will never forget their evil deeds.
While it is good to minimize food miles, it is not possible to grow products like tea and coffee in temperate climates. However, workers in the developing nations may not receive a fair wage or have reasonable working conditions. To deal with this justice issue, churches have taken a lead in communities by promoting fairly-traded products and encouraging members of their congregation to buy them.
For more in this area, visit http://www.fairtradeusa.org/, where fair trade suppliers of everything under the sun are listed!
Ensure that your church purchases fairly-traded tea, coffee and sugar, which are readily available from suppliers like Ten Thousand Villages and many stores.
Shade-grown coffee is grown under the rainforest canopy and so preserves, rather than destroys, this irreplaceable habitat. Research buying this exclusively for your church. Examples are Audubon Coffee (http://www.auduboncoffeeclub.com/) Sacred Grounds (http://www.sacred-grounds.com/index.html), and Tonyan Coffee http://www.holygroundscoffee.net/
Consider running a ‘fair trade’ stall to enable your congregation to readily purchase fairly-traded goods. This could be run after worship services and at other regular events such as a Moms and Babies Group. Ten Thousand Villages is a national leader in this area (http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/) providing delicious food, beautiful clothes and unique crafts that pay a just wage to those who made them.
Run education programs on things like eating sustainable fish. The plundering of the oceans by factory ships is leading to the starvation and despair of Third World fishermen and their families – and is an irreversible ruining of the sea’s ecology…and our Lord’s creation.
Educate yourself first - visit www.seafoodwatch.org, and also http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/download.aspx
Look out for fish certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, http://www.msc.org/
A Biblical perspective can be found here on the web site for the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa: fecciwa.org/uploader/uploads/fecciwaoverfishing.docx .
Stories from churches…
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Scotia, NY, reports: ‘‘During most of Lent, the coffee that was brewed in our coffee pots was distributed by the Rogers Family Company, (http://www.rogersfamilyco.com/) a company which pays its coffee farmers a price based on the cost of production plus a reasonable return. In addition, they encourage their farmers to farm sustainably and in concert with the environment. ‘ (http://www.ourredeemer.cc/creationcarelinks.html
Stockton United Reformed Church, UK has run a Traidcraft stall for over 10 years. Staffed by a willing rota of volunteers, it stocks a supply of ‘core’ goods and also has catalogues available for perusal from which it takes orders. Whilst the stall aimed to break even from the outset, it has generated a profit each year which goes towards social responsibility activities and outreach. It has been remarked that the Traidcraft stall acts as an additional incentive for people to come to worship week-by-week!
St Mary the Virgin, Easington, Co. Durham, UK hosts a display of fairly-traded (and environmentally-friendly goods) for sale in their local supermarket to raise members’ awareness of their availability.
Dundee Church of Scotland Presbytery has become a Fairtrade Presbytery. Almost 70% (and rising!) of charges in the presbytery use Fairtrade tea and coffee and a range of Fairtrade produce is available and served at Presbytery meetings and other events. They have also raised awareness of their efforts through the media.
A Rocha – Caring for God’s creation together
The story of A Rocha
A Rocha is an international conservation organization working to show God’s love for all creation. It began life in 1983 when the A Rocha Trust was formed. A Rocha’s first practical project was to establish a Christian field study center in Portugal, which opened in 1986 on the Alvor estuary. In 1994, with the Portuguese project under national management, the UK Trustees decided to respond to requests for help from elsewhere. Now, A Rocha projects have been established in nineteen countries spanning five continents: Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Asia.
Snapshots from A Rocha groups across the world
Details of what all the different affiliates are doing can be found here: http://www.arocha.org/
A ROCHA Brazil is at the forefront of protecting the environment and reaching out to fellow Brazilians to teach them about their beautiful, fragile landscape.
In 2009, “… A Rocha Brazil distributed 35,000 booklets, designed to inspire Christians to care for creation. …. the Environmental Education team … focused on churches in North and Northeastern Brazil. This region is home to many of the world’s poorest people, but they live in some of our planet’s richest eco-regions, like the Amazon Rainforest, the Cerrado savanna and the Caatinga dry shrubland. The team has been facilitating workshops in six states, to raise awareness and resource Christian leaders who want to develop projects which combine environmental education and social action. “
IN 2012, “A Rocha Brazil took the unique opportunity afforded by an earth summit in their own country to raise awareness and mobilize churches. Raquel Arouca, Project Coordinator, says, ‘Our goals reach beyond Rio+20: we want to encourage the church to take on the environmental agenda as a normal part of their mission. Our mobilization efforts have been going on since 2011, and we've had important feedback: churches coming together to think and act on socio-environmental issues in their own cities; churches promoting local awareness activities; churches planting trees; churches rethinking their own habits and seeking more sustainable solutions to their needs; churches for the first time setting up internal debates on environmental topics.’ A Rocha Brazil and their partner organizations (such as Tearfund and Rede Fale) were at the People’s Summit with seven events: one Celebration for Creation; one nature walk; and five debates (on Urban farming, Environmental crisis, Religious youth, Sustainable energy and Agro-ecology).”
A ROCHA Canada works with community vegetable gardens, conservation work, and environmental education…as well as having two field centers!
“Education is one of the pillars of A Rocha’s work in Canada. Through hands-on learning, our education programs foster a sense of wonder in the created world and for the Creator Himself. Our Field Study Centres offer year-round environmental education opportunities for school groups. During the summer we run day camps and partner with Christian camps across the country, equipping them to run their own creation-care activities. Over 10,000 children and youth engage every year in our various environmental education programs across Canada.
“A Rocha’s conservation work is spreading across Canada, with special concentrations in Toronto, ON, and Houston, BC. Building on the networks, partnerships and environmental stewardship accomplished over the past three years through the A Rocha Greater Toronto Area Action Group, we are expanding our work in Southern Ontario to include community garden workshops, creation care outreach events, and other partner projects in cooperation with various Christian communities, including Tyndale College and the Chinese Christian community of North Toronto and Markham. Monthly environmental stewardship activities in the Toronto area include full mornings of habitat monitoring, controlling invasive plants and building boardwalks and bird boxes at Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust’s Starcliff Nature Reserve and the City of Toronto’s Warden Woods.”
A ROCHA Kenya. Arabuko-Sokoke Forest – Kenya. A Rocha Kenya was formally established in 1998 and opened the Mwamba Bird Observatory and Field Study Centre in Watamu, in the coastal district of Malindi, in 2002. Malindi is home to some of the richest and most diverse habitats in the whole of Kenya. The Arabuko-Sokoke Forest alone is home to at least 5 globally endangered species and has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site. However, a growing population and high levels of poverty put a huge strain on the relationship between local people and their environment. By working with local communities, A Rocha Kenya aims to achieve the long-term conservation of threatened habitats and species in this area. In this light, A Rocha Kenya has created ASSETS (‘Arabuko-Sokoke Schools and Ecotourism Scheme’), a sustainable development program. Through the provision of secondary school scholarships, ASSETS meets the economic and social needs of the local community, whilst promoting the conservation of two of Africa's most important ecosystems – the coastal forest at Arabuko-Sokoke, and the associated tidal inlet of Mida Creek (see http://www.assets-kenya.org/ for more details)
A ROCHA Lebanon. Aammiq Marsh – Lebanon. The Aammiq Marsh is Lebanon's most significant remaining freshwater wetland, one of all too few in the Middle East. This major stop-over site for migrating birds is under severe threat. Due to the work of A Rocha since 1997, the decline in the habitats of the wetland has been reversed. Current efforts are focused on protecting the marsh through scientific study, practical conservation and environmental education.
A ROCHA New Zealand was established in NZ in 2007. “We encourage and equip ordinary Kiwis to care for the natural environment through hands-on community based projects. Our head office in the Waikato supports the work of six Branches in Christchurch, Wellington, Manawatu, Waikato, Dunedin and Auckland. We work in partnership with a wide range of people and organizations throughout New Zealand.
“Our team is rich in conservation knowledge and experience and committed to protecting New Zealand’s unique environment for future generations.
“Our varied activities include...
Habitat restoration, species monitoring and waterways protection
Organic community gardens
Environmental education and advocacy
Education modules for schools, churches, and camps
Awareness-raising public forums
Youth eco-adventure camps”
A ROCHA Portugal. Cruzinha, Ria De Alvor. Since the establishment of the field study center and bird observatory in south west Portugal in 1986, where A Rocha all started, thousands of visitors have taken part in the environmental education programs and hundreds of volunteers and students have been trained, many of whom continue to be active in environmental issues. The database at Cruzinha now holds records of over 60,000 birds ringed, while extensive studies of plants and fungi, moths and butterflies have given a firm basis for influential reports and articles on the Algarve's environment. Proposals for reserve status for the Alvor Estuary stem directly from A Rocha studies.
The big news in 2012 was the successful legal case against a landowner who illegally destroyed a substantial part of this nature reserve:
“In March, we reported that the owner of Quinta da Rocha had been convicted of environmental crimes: a series of illegal actions between 2007 and 2010 which damaged the Ria de Alvor, one of the best wetlands in southern Portugal. Now, in a separate court action against his property development company, initiated by A Rocha Portugal (who led a coalition of six national NGOs) the company has been ordered to completely restore the habitats that were destroyed.
“Tiago Branco, National Director of A Rocha Portugal, said, ‘This was a case that looked as though it would end like so many others when Portuguese protected areas have been destroyed. After the habitats are ruined, and a nominal fine is paid, the way is opened for multi-million euro developments on land that has been purchased very cheaply. But an effective antidote exists and finally the law has applied it – the owners are obliged to restore the habitats to their original condition. In this case the owners are completely forbidden to undertake any work on the protected habitats for ten years, allowing the wetlands to recover.’”
A ROCHA UK. Here are two aspects of this affiliate’s work:
Minet Country Park - UK. The initial focus for A Rocha’s work in the UK has been the A Rocha Living Waterways Project in Southall and Hayes, West London, which was launched in early 2001. Located in a heavily built-up, culturally diverse area the project aims to open up the wonders of God's creation to people who have little chance to enjoy the beauty of the natural world at first hand. A Rocha Living Waterways has worked with local landowners, Hillingdon Council and other community groups to turn a 90 acre wasteland site between Southall and Hayes into the Minet Country Park, with recreational space and nature conservation areas.
A Rocha UK has been involved with a number of Citizen Science projects:
In 2012 A Rocha began working with Bats in Churches to identify the importance of the presence of Bats around the churchyard.
In 2010 A Rocha were working with Buglife on the invasive Harlequin ladybird, which is a threat to native species of ladybird in Britain. The Harlequin originated in Asia, but it was introduced to North America and mainland Europe to control aphids that were feeding on crops. The public were asked to record sightings and their data was mapped and linked to the NBN Gateway (National Biodiversity Network.) Through working with Buglife, A Rocha UK were able to increase their understanding of the distribution of this species and how quickly they were spreading across the country
In 2009 supporters joined forces with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and were encouraged to record sightings of the Tree Bumblebee which is now spreading rapidly across the country from mainland Europe. This is a probable result of climate change.
A ROCHA USA. Amongst other projects, ARUSA has two exciting new initiatives:–
In the heart of the Texas Hill County sits the 7,000-acre Big Springs Ranch for Children. Home to at-risk and orphaned youth, the renowned “big springs” that birth the Frio River, endangered Black-capped Vireo and Golden-cheeked Warbler, plus one of the largest underground caverns in the state, the ranch is truly a Texas treasure. Both working ranch and haven, Big Springs Ranch has invited A Rocha to help with the conservation and study of this amazing property. With assistance from The Nature Conservancy, A Rocha and Big Springs Ranch have developed a conservation management and education plan that will:
Provide conservation-science education and hands-on projects for ranch youth and other school groups, churches, camps and individuals.
Protect this unique property with its springs, habitats, and species.
Conduct valuable aquifer level/spring flow monitoring and research.
Demonstrate holistic conservation land and livestock management.
Develop “creation-care” curriculum for the region’s Christian camps.
Host and engage visitors and volunteers from around the world.
In the far NW corner of Washington State, A Rocha is partnering with local conservation organizations, agencies, churches and community groups to:
Learn about and care for our watersheds – the Bertrand Creek Community Watershed Project, which involves protecting spawning salmon
Strengthen our local food systems through a community garden
Protect habitats and species through several local ecological studies, including monitoring nest boxes for American kestrels to help control pest predation of local blueberry crops.
There is also a new cross-border initiative: Fishtrap Creek begins north of the US-Canadian border and heads south past border guards, the town of Lynden, berry fields, dairy farms, schools and businesses then enters into the Nooksack River before flowing out into the Salish Sea near Bellingham. This past March, A Rocha’s Northwest Washington Project Director Dave Timmer and former A Rocha Board Member Karen Steensma led a crew north to restore the banks of Fishtrap Creek. With help from the Langley Environmental Partners Society and the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, Dave and Karen and 15 students from Karen’s Applied Ecology class at Trinity Western University planted some 400 native trees and shrubs along a 200 foot stretch of the creek formerly overrun by invasive blackberry plants. The native plants—Western red cedar, Douglas fir, Red alder, Sitka willow and more--will help shade the creek (reducing the temperature and increasing the oxygen level of the water), stabilize the banks, filter sediment and pollutants, and add organic matter to the stream—important for insects and the salmon who feed on them.
“What happens upstream flows downstream,” said Dave. “It doesn’t stop at the border. So this spring we decided to figure out a way to work upstream in Canada as well as down here in the States.”
To do that, A Rocha connected with the Canadian conservation organization, Langley Environmental Partners Society and Steensma’s Trinity Western class. The focus: property owned by a condominium complex on the banks of the Fishtrap.
With proper maintenance, said Timmer, the property will soon be valuable riparian habitat. Furthermore, an interested neighbor, who watched the planting project, signed his property up for a restoration project next year.
“Enough of these projects strung together will have international consequences,” said Timmer
There are many ways in which our individual and corporate lifestyles in the USA affect the global environment and impact on other peoples and species both now and in the future. Probably the most serious of these issues is Climate Change, aka “global warming”.
Human activities, particularly the burning of oil, coal and gas, produce carbon dioxide and other gases, known as ‘greenhouse gases’, which trap heat from the sun. It is now clear that these activities are affecting the global climate. The effects of climate change are already starting to be visible and are likely to get worse for some time to come, even if we succeed in cutting back our greenhouse gas emissions. They include rising sea-levels, an increase in storms and flooding in some places and drought in others and changes in the distribution of some disease-bearing organisms.
We deal with this topic in depth in module 13. Module 7 on caring for church premises, and Module 10 on personal lifestyles, both give advice on saving energy in church and at home – as of course, reducing the amount of energy we use reduces our impact on the climate.
Visit http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/ for more details of how you can personally commit to this cause. Visit the A Rocha project, Climate Stewards, to act now to counteract your carbon footprint – in the best way possible – planting trees in the poorest parts of Africa.
Prayer for Sustainable Development
In 2002, to help churches prepare for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, Eco-Congregation got together with A Rocha, the John Ray Initiative and Christian Ecology Link to produce briefing materials for churches. The Acrostic prayer* below was written as part of those materials.
Creating God, you have given us a vision of a new heaven and a new earth…
Nations at peace
Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer
Alert nations, enthuse churches
Receive our commitment and so entwine our lives with Your purpose.
The Week of Prayer for World Peace is a Christian initiative that quickly became an inter-faith activity and is held each year as a week of prayer leading into One World Week. Their 2000 leaflet included the following prayer:
God of creation,
help us to realize that it is in your world
that we live and move and have our being.
Give us the generosity to respect your world
and strive continually to recognize you
in all you have created.
The International Prayer for Peace
Lead me from death to life,
from falsehood to truth.
Lead me from despair to hope,
from fear to trust.
Lead me from hate to love,
from war to peace.
Let peace fill our heart,
our world, our universe.
More stories from churches...
After completing a green audit, Bethesda Methodist Church in Cheltenham came up with ten green commitments including a determination to expand the support given by the church to work overseas. They linked up with a locally based charity – the International Centre for Conservation Education (ICCE) – and initiated a project to collect knitting needles and crochet hooks which had been requested by Malawi villagers. This eventually resulted in the donation of 6 sewing machines in good working order and one of the church members travelled to Malawi with ICCE’s Director to run a sewing course for ten women chosen by their villages. This was so successful that plans are already being made to collect more sewing machines in order to expand the program which is now operating under the direction of the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi.
About A Rocha Eco-congregation
A Rocha Eco-congregation is an ecumenical program to help churches make the link between environmental issues and their Christian faith - and respond in practical action in the church and wider community. It is run in churches in Britain and Ireland, Canada, the United States, and elsewhere, and provides free resources, support and an Award Program to help churches to consider
Eco-congregation (USA) is a project of A Rocha USA, a 501(c) organization.
A Rocha (www.arocha.org) is a Christian nature conservation organization operating in over nineteen countries, our name coming from the Portuguese for “the Rock,” as the first initiative was a field study center in Portugal. A Rocha projects are frequently cross-cultural in character, and share a community emphasis, with a focus on science and research, practical conservation and environmental education. A Rocha USA, PO Box 1338, Fredericksburg TX 78624