“What difference can I make to saving the planet?” This is what people often say to me as the Diocesan Environmental Adviser perhaps because of feeling overwhelmed by the scale and complexity of our responsibility for caring for creation. My reply is that even small actions done prayerfully can add up to something worthwhile. Take for example my own efforts yesterday…
It started with a trip down the motorway to Bristol for a committee meeting with colleagues from five other dioceses in the South West. Sometimes a face-to-face meeting is needed to maintain good working relationships and ensure that we make the right decisions. So this is what we agreed:
•to organise a Carbon Fast in Lent 2016 (the third year running) which will give a great opportunity for Anglicans to engage with eco-theology and practical actions;
•to share the results of environmental surveys conducted in our Diocesan Head Office that’s situated alongside of Gloucester cathedral;
•to have an environmental stall at the forthcoming “On Your Doorstep” event planned for 30th September in Gloucester;
•to encourage our diocesan synods (from Gloucester to Cornwall) to switch investments from fossil fuels companies and into good quality green energy companies, such as Ecotricity;
•to investigate what can be done to alleviate fuel poverty over the winter months.
That’s the easy bit… now all we need is a budget and detailed action plans!
Later in the day I joined a team of volunteers in St James Church at Colesbourne to clean and tidy up the churchyard. It turned out to be a good way of meeting parishioners and I enjoyed trimming back the rose bushes, which were completely overgrown. We ended up sitting in the church porch sharing beer and sandwiches.
My final challenge was to overcome one of the things that deter people from going to church – the lack of toilet facilities.
This problem recently turned into a crisis when five pregnant ladies from London arrived for a wedding at St Giles Church at Coberley but had to drive away again in search of public conveniences! Therefore, a car full of us from St John’s Church in Elkstone paid a visit to Coln St Aldwyns and found the design of their green oak shelter would be ideal for our purposes at Elkstone.
Later we strolled along the riverbank back to the car and admired the trout that could be seen where sunshine poured through gaps in the trees. It was like having a glimpse of heaven and a reminder that even small action done prayerfully can help to save the planet for future generations.
Arthur Champion (Revd),
Churn Valley Benefice near Cheltenham
Revd Arthur Champion, MSc, CEng
Arthur was appointed as the Environmental Adviser to Gloucester Diocese partly because of his lifelong commitment to caring for the environment. In the 1970s at Sheffield he pioneered a church-based waste recycling project in partnership with Friends of the Earth. From 1990 to 2012 he was the UK environmental adviser for a multinational business, which involved: protecting wildlife habitats, making travel plans for commuting to new offices, minimising waste and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. From 2008 to 2013 he led an environmental group in the Greenway Benefice near Cheltenham and he’s currently serving as a “house for duty” priest; licensed to nine parishes in the Cotswolds. His role as Diocesan Environmental Adviser is outlined here