Two years ago my JRI blog was about the somewhat mysterious work of a Diocesan Environmental Adviser whereas this time I’m going to focus on a new season in the church’s year; “Creationtide”, which is dedicated to God as the Creator and Sustainer of all life.
Creationtide originated in 1989 when the Ecumenical Patriarch suggested that 1st September, the first day of the Eastern Orthodox Church’s year, should be observed as a day “of protection of the natural environment”. The annual Christian season of Creationtide (or Creation Time) begins on 1st September and goes on to encompass many harvest festivals. It culminates on 4th October at St Francis’ Day. It is a time for Christians to contemplate the link between their spirituality and the need to care for God’s creation. Creationtide has now spread widely among Anglican, Roman Catholic and Protestant congregations, bringing Christians together to pray and work for the protection of the natural world that sustains everyone.
For several years six of the CofE dioceses in the South West from Gloucester down to Truro have been collaborating on environmental projects. The annual Carbon Fast was a high profile event which provided an environmental “thought for the day” to hundreds of people who signed up to receive daily emails during the 40 days of Lent. However, our meeting in March at Exeter decided that Lent has associations with dumping “green guilt” on people whereas Creationtide in late summer has a much more positive vibe! Therefore, this year our efforts have switched to providing Creationtide resources for churches and individuals in the South West of England.
In common with the other five Diocesan Environmental Advisers, one of my most important tasks has been to persuade busy clergy to write short articles that will soon be available for those who sign up for daily prayers and reflections here.
Gloucester Diocese was the first to produce a 5-minute video about caring for fauna and flora in churchyards as well as the provision of much needed composting toilets in rural parish churches:
In the past two years Elkstone parish church in the Cotswold Hills has been busy creating a wild flower meadow, bug houses and eco loo.
I’m currently promoting awareness of several events in Gloucester Diocese that will be happening in September. It’s incredible that so far hardly anyone else in the UK has bothered to log their events on the global website which can be found here.
In addition, I’m dealing with enquiries from clergy and licensed readers by referring them to various specialist resources:
• The CofE lectionary hasn’t quite caught up with Creationtide but I can certainly recommend a series of liturgical resources, including collects, post-communion prayers, forms of intercession and additional material for the Eucharistic Prayer, produced for trial use by the Diocese of Guildford here.
• Material for Seasons and Festivals of the Agricultural Year from “Common Worship: Times and Seasons,” commended by the House of Bishops for use at the discretion of the minister here.
• Resources for worship and prayer produced by the Environment Task Group here.
• A liturgy for All-Age Worship, produced by Canon Johnson while an incumbent in the Diocese of Manchester here.
Finally, for anyone who still needs convincing that Creationtide is worthwhile, there’s an excellent video made by the Most Revd Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury. This is the sort of endorsement that will hopefully make Creationtide a permanent feature in the life of the Anglican Communion for 85 million people in over 50 countries around the world. Watch this space!
Revd Arthur Champion, MSc, CEng 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.