The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were agreed by the United Nations in 2000 and were due to run for fifteen years. In many areas we have seen real progress in that time. So there are less people living in extreme poverty and more have access to clean drinking water. For one goal, however, that most concerned with environment, things have got a lot worse. We have seen little progress on carbon emissions cuts and in stemming biodiversity loss. The worry is that if our global environment spins totally out of control then the real progress that has been made in alleviating poverty could go into reverse. In September 2015 the United Nations agreed new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which focus more on environmental concerns.
For our conference in 2016 we have partnered with ForMission, A Rocha UK and Micah Global. The conference will happen on Saturday, 5 March 2016 from 09:30 to 16:30 at Hollymoor Centre, Manor Park Grove, Birmingham. Ticket prices will be £30-£48 depending on whether you book early! Our conference will look at where we stand now on environmental sustainability. We will consider what is in the new SDGs and how they will help guide us towards a sustainable future over the next 15 years. Our keynote speakers will also look at what the SDGs promise for biodiversity and what an appropriate Christian response should be. We will then have a range of seminars covering topics including food, energy, fisheries and cities (see Speakers and Seminar Leaders). The day will be of interest to all Christians who are concerned about environmental issues and sustainable development. Places will be limited and the day is likely to be popular so book early to ensure your place!
For more information see the Conference Web Page. We also have a Facebook Event Page. This year the majority of our bookings will be taken online at our Bookings Page. We are, however, aware that some people may prefer to use a paper route and, if this is you, then please download a printable leaflet (pdf) from this link and follow the instructions to book by post.
Starting on Friday 13th November in London a group of pilgrims will walk to Paris and are due to arrive on Friday 27th November, just before the United Nations COP21 meeting begins. Pilgrimage2Paris has been organised by the Church of England, Christian Aid, CAFOD and Tearfund. These organisations also came together to produce a Reflections Booklet with prayers and reflections for each of the days of the pilgrimage, written by people with a very wide range of perspectives on climate change. These can be used by everyone, whether physically taking part in the pilgrimage or not. We in JRI urge everyone to download the booklet and to use it in the next two weeks.
It was with sadness that I learned of the sudden death of Professor Graham Ashworth CBE. Graham was a past President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, former President of the Foundation for Environmental Education, and a former member of the UK Round Table on Sustainable Development. As a former Professor of Urban Environmental Studies at the University of Salford he was an advocate of urban regeneration and land reclamation. In 1980 he was awarded the CBE for services to the environment. He became well known nationally as Director General of the Tidy Britain Group from 1987 to 2000, leading the Tidy Britain Campaign. He was a Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire from 1991, chaired his local Parish Council, and was active in environmental advocacy right up to his death.
Graham was for many years a leading voice, in fact one of the first, in support of environmental issues, and a supporter of the John Ray Initiative from its early days under the leadership of Sir John Houghton. I was privileged to work with him both in teaching and at conferences. He and I both taught on the Certificate in Applied Theology course for young Baptist leaders from central and eastern Europe at the International Baptist Theological Seminary, Prague. He was a great encourager of debate. From my own position of chair of the IBTSC Board, I know that Graham’s teaching of environmental theology was greatly appreciated by the students and the staff in Prague.
We can give thanks to God for Graham’s prophetic voice, a voice we will miss in the run up to the UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris.
Rev. Dr. John Weaver
A Christian Guide to Environmental Issues
A Christian Guide to Environmental Issues
This new book by Martin and Margot Hodson covers the big environmental issues of our time (biodiversity loss, climate change, water, human population and consumption….) and then provides a biblical and ethical reflection. The book also has eco-tips and Bible studies. Published by Bible Reading Fellowship, the publication date is 18th September 2015. For more details go HERE.
JRI has moved!!
City Works, Gloucester
Our annual conference on March 7th 2015 at Redcliffe College was highly successful but was tinged with a little sadness. When we met in March we knew that this would be the last meeting that we would ever hold at Wotton House, the home of Redcliffe College since 1995. JRI and the College have been collaborating on environment days since the early 2000’s. But sadly in January 2015 the College announced that it would be moving to new premises in Gloucester city centre and selling Wotton House at the end of 2015. We have had a fantastic collaboration with Redcliffe College over the years, and are very grateful to all the staff there who have been so welcoming to us. We hope that our association with the College will be able to continue in some way once they are established in their new premises.
In their smaller building Redcliffe College will not have room for JRI, where we have had our office since 20th September 2013. We have really enjoyed our relatively short time at Redcliffe College, and are thankful to them, but we fully understand their situation. So this means we are on the move again! Very fortunately, we have found a home with two other Christian agencies. OSCAR (the UK information service for world mission) were also losing their space at Redcliffe after 12 years, and have found a new place not far from the College. Gloucestershire Resource Centre, City Works is an old factory that has been converted into a recycling centre and community focus. Many charities have their offices there. It is VERY environmentally friendly, and the roof is covered with solar panels. “Yes we are occupying one of the largest community solar energy plants in the country!! There is a display unit in the ground floor lobby that shows you the amount of energy being produced at any time. At the time when it is producing energy we benefit from free electricity use.” European Christian Mission (ECM) will also be sharing the office. So from 7th September 2015 our address is: The John Ray Initiative, Gloucestershire Resource Centre, City Works, Alfred Street, Gloucester, GL1 4DF, UK (all other contact details remain the same)
“Well-meaning but somewhat naïve”? A response to the GWPF briefing paper: The Papal Encyclical – a critical Christian response by Bernard Donoughue and Peter Forster.
Bishop David Atkinson has written a detailed critique of the recent Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) The Papal Encyclical – a critical Christian response (July 2015) by Baron Donoughue and Bishop Peter Forster. The Church Times published an extract of the briefing, and there were many critical responses, but HERE Bishop David tackles the briefing paper itself (if you wish to see the original GWPF paper go here: Briefing paper 20).