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All One in Church Part 8: The Environment

Our behaviors can impact the whole world, and it is our Christian responsibility to act accordingly. There are many realistic ways that we can protect God’s world and everyone in it. We don’t have to do all the things, but we should try to do some.
By CARMEL PAGE
Read Time: 4 minutes

The UK is developing a refugee problem, and it’s not the kind you might think of. Fairbourne is a pretty seaside village in Wales on low-lying land but protected by a sea wall. It had an ecclesia, so many of us have holidayed there. Sea levels around the UK began to rise last century and storms have become increasingly severe, threatening the future of Fairbourne.

The authorities have announced that the village cannot be protected from the sea for much longer; in a few decades it will have to be abandoned. Fairbourne’s residents are likely to be the first environmental refugees in the UK but not our last.

Fairbourne, Wales

Many other places around the world have similar issues. Most environmental refugees are from poorer countries which may not be able to rehome them. As we are awaiting “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1), climate change may not feel relevant, but people are suffering and dying now.

Global warming is causing sea-levels to rise, floods, landslides and droughts. As the problem is mostly caused by those of us in affluent countries, we need to take responsibility for the solution.

After God created the world, he said, “it was very good” (Gen 1:31), but it is no longer “very good.” We are all partly responsible for this. God blessed us with his creation, so we should commit to protecting it. Anyone who takes on leadership has responsibility. We must avoid being like the shepherds who Ezekiel prophesied against saying,

“You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock…Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?” (Ezek 34:3,18 NIV).

The shepherds had taken what they wanted for themselves without any thought for how it affected others. We need to take our stewardship seriously so that no one suffers from our excesses. Young people have strong feelings about the environment and want their church to take it seriously.

Through digital technology, young people have grown up with a heightened awareness of global challenges. They also tend to be very aware of social responsibility: the idea that we must act in the best interests of society and the environment. They understand that our behaviors can impact the whole world, and so they feel it is our Christian responsibility to act accordingly.

There are many realistic ways that we can protect God’s world and everyone in it. We don’t have to do all these things, but we should try to do some.

Within our ecclesial building, we can think about our energy use.
Fit solar panels on our church.
Use low-energy lightbulbs.
Purchase our energy from a green supplier.
Improve our insulation.
Turn off lights and appliances not in use and encourage others to do the same.
Discuss turning down the thermostat or installing a programmable one and wearing warmer clothes instead.

Aim to reduce what we buy, reuse it as much as possible and then recycle everything we can.
Have recycling bins inside our halls.
If the neighborhood is suitable, have recycling bins where the local community can access them.
Use recycled paper and ask people to recycle it after using it.
Print on both sides with narrow margins and avoid printing when possible.
Collect rainwater from the roof for use in the toilets or garden.
Fit low water consumption toilets.
Encourage hand-me-down clothes and hold rummage sales.
Have a table for exchanging unwanted items.

Utilize outdoor space wisely.
Grow plants in the yard, especially those which attract bees.
Install a birdfeeder, bird-boxes and bug hotels.
Avoid using pesticides and peat-based products.
Carry out a wildlife survey—it’s a great activity for CYC—then try to improve on your biodiversity.
Organize a trash clean-up in both your grounds and the local community.
Make compost from kitchen and garden waste.

Catering for the hungry is kind, and we can increase our kindness with a few small changes.
Grow fruit and veg on the grounds.
Shop locally for local produce and buy fair-trade food if available.
Use up left-overs; give them away, freeze them or take them home to eat.
Set up a community fridge to share excess food with the hungry.
Increase the number of vegetarian options and cut back on eating meat.

How we travel to church can make a big difference.
Share car rides with others going your way.
Cycle, walk or use public transport.
Fit bike-racks to encourage cycling and free up parking space for plants.

The way we manage our finances is important too.
Invest our funds with financial institutions who will use it ethically.
Purchase environmentally sourced and environmentally safe products.
Avoid buying single-use items whenever possible.
Fundraise to support local conservation projects and get involved. It’s a great way to get to know your community.

Thinking about these issues heightens our awareness of all that God has given us.
Pray for those who are suffering from global warming.
Hold talks about environmental responsibility.
Hold services, meals and time for recreation and reflection outdoors whenever possible so we feel nearer to nature.

In all these ways we can both look after the most vulnerable people in the world and please our God so that He does not have to say to us,

“I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.” (Jer 2:7).

Carmel Page,
Chesterfield UK

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