Young Church : 3 Generate
On Saturday 1st October, members of the Young Church took part in a sleepover at the Mint, linking with the national “3Generate” Methodist Youth event where young people are asked what they would like to see from the church in the coming years.
One of the topics we discussed was eco-church, as the previous young
church sleepover and resulting manifesto had been instrumental in motivating the creation of the eco-church group at the Mint. The children were pleased that the ideas in their 2018 Manifesto had been listened to. This time the discussion focused on the need to make sustainable eco-friendly transport choices.
The young people also saw social justice issues such as fair trade as tied in with eco-church and a wider respect for our natural environment. The images show some of these topics depicted in drawing by young church members. There was also plenty of time for sport, games, crafts, pizza making, film watching and even sleeping! A good time was had by all!
A year ago it seemed the whole world was talking about the climate emergency. Who could have missed COP26 in Glasgow? But with war in Ukraine, soaring prices, knock-on effects of covid and domestic political upheavals, COP27 in November hardly gets mentioned. Yet the climate crisis is deepening, and the impact of climate change ever more apparent in 2022: millions of homes destroyed by floods in Pakistan; the worst drought in Europe for 500 years; 9.5 million people affected by floods in Bangladesh and India; $67 billion of damage from hurricane Ian in US. The Glasgow Climate Pact was intended to turn the 2020s into a decade of action. Many positive decisions and pledges were made to curb emissions and to provide finance to developing countries for coping with climate change. For the first time, phasing down coal power and fossil fuel subsidies made it onto the list of agreed actions. COP27 is reviewing progress. Many countries have failed to increase their commitments to reduce emissions, and developed countries have still not provided the agreed levels of finance. As ever, there will be haggling over wording, splitting of hairs, politicking, and grandstanding. But this is how international conventions work, and we mustn’t lose hope. As the InterFaith Liaison Committee to the Climate Change Convention says: “We, our voices from faith communities across the world, join in prayer and meditation for meaningful decisions and intention for urgent co-action at the climate conference in Egypt”.
Environmental Christianity: seeing God in all things
I am not a theologian, but I have been trying to work out why reverence for the created world (or universe) is so much at the heart of Christianity for me. It starts for me with incarnation. In the birth of Jesus, God becomes one with creation, and participates fully in the joys, and inevitably also the agonies, of existence. God is not apart from us in a distant heaven: God is here on earth with us. This makes everything holy. Incarnation underscores the meaning of immanence: it is God’s in dwelling in the created world. And if God is with us in the world, then everything we do is holy, if we do it as a harmonious part of God’s creation. If we really acknowledged the divinity in all things and in the actions we take, would we abuse and disregard the world so badly?
If this sounds a bit New Age, consider the very familiar (and very orthodox) hymn by George Herbert (StF 668), whose first line runs ‘Teach me, my God and King, in all things thee to see’: God is present in all creation. The final verse concludes ‘This is the famous stone that turneth all to gold: for that which God doth touch and own cannot for less be told’. We should revere the whole of creation as divinely touched and owned.
Herbert is clear that this world view makes what we do divine as well as what we see. ‘A servant with this clause makes drudgery divine’. And: ‘All may of thee partake; nothing can be so mean, which with this tincture ‘for thy sake’ will not grow bright and clean’.
If we see God in all creation, and do everything for God, then we recognise that we are part of, and not above the rest of creation, and we will seek to play our part in honouring the wonderful and sacred world God has given us. The Bible and traditional Christianity does not often seem to express our relationship with the rest of creation in this way. We have sat too comfortably on God’s instruction to Adam in Genesis 1 to subdue the earth and have dominion over all living things. The Old Testament’s celebration and awe of creation seems too often to be expressed in relation to human needs and fears, rather than valuing it for its own sake because God has created it. But the incarnation shows us a deeper relationship to the earth: humankind is a participant sharing in a creation made sacred by God’s in dwelling presence. It’s not all about us: we are just one part of the wonders of creation. But we still seem to be stuck in a human centred world view. We need to change the way we see and act in God’s creation, before it’s too late.
Mint members on a visit to the Exeter Recovery facility, on the 18th October