Churches flee from fossil fuels as Creationtide begins

02 September 2016

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MORE than 3500 churches in the UK have so far switched their elec­tricity supply from fossil fuels to renewables, it has been announced, at the start of a month of prayer for the environment. Creationtide, which began with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation yes­terday, runs throughout September until 4 October.

An ecumenical alliance of charities — Christian Aid, Tearfund, and CAFOD — have publicised the figures of churches moving to greener energy to mark the Day of Prayer. Of those churches, 2000 are in the 16 Roman Catholic dioceses that now run entirely on renewable energy, and a further 700 are across other denominations that joined up through the Big Church Switch campaign, run earlier this year by Christian Aid and Tearfund (Comment, 15 April). About one third of Quaker meeting houses and almost all of the Salvation Army’s citadels have also switched to re­­new­ables.

The advocacy director for Tearfund, Paul Cook, said: “The Christian community has come to­gether to help lead the shift to clean energy. We’re showing that we care for our neighbours, we care for creation, and we care that the Government takes urgent action.”

The RC Bishop of Salford, the Rt Revd John Arnold, who chairs CAFOD, said: “Adopting renewable energy for our church buildings must be a priority. Pope Francis challenges us all to ‘care for our common home’, and by adopting renewable energy, we will directly help people threatened, and already most severely affected, by climate change.”

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, who leads the Church of England’s work on the environment, has made a video urging Christians to pray during Creationtide. It can be viewed at www.youtube.com/dioceseofsalisbury.

He said: “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.”

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Creationtide was initiated by the Orthodox Church under the leader­ship of Patriarch Demetrios in 1989. It has now been adopted by Angli­cans around the world, and by Pope Francis, whose encyclical Laudato Si’ focused on protecting creation as a vital part of Christian faith.

The Revd Vicky Johnson, a Residentiary Canon of Ely Cathedral, has provided liturgical resources for churches that wish to pray for and celebrate the environment during Creationtide, which can be found at http://bit.ly/creationresources.

The Creationtide season has also been endorsed by pan-European bodies such as the RC Council of European Bishops’ Conference, the ecumenical Conference of European Churches, and the European Christian Environmental Network. They issued a joint statement, which said: “Respecting creation means not only protecting and safe­guarding the earth, water and other parts of the natural world. It is at the same time expressing respect for human beings who share those gifts and bear responsibility for them.”

This week is also World Water Week, and a panel at a Stockholm conference has highlighted the part played by Churches in conserving the earth’s resources. “If UN mechanisms, governments, and institutions do not tap the resources and the potential of the faith communities, then that is an opportunity lost,” the co-ordinator of the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Water Network, Dinesh Suna, said during the debate.

“As Churches, we must not only celebrate World Water Day but also World Toilet Day,” Mr Suna concluded. “Therefore we have taken the initiative to introduce a special hymn around sanitation. And before your imagination goes wild in relating hymns with toilets, it has been well-received by many Churches.”

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