The John Ray Initiative (JRI) is an educational charity with a vision to bring together scientific and Christian understandings of the environment in a way that can be widely communicated and lead to effective action. It was formed in 1997 in recognition of the urgent need to respond to the global environmental crisis and the challenges of sustainable development and environmental stewardship.
JRI’s mission is to promote responsible environmental stewardship in accordance with Christian principles and the wise use of science and technology.
We aim to both inform and challenge, to develop understanding of the environment and the way in which human society interacts with it, and to stimulate action in pursuit of environmental protection and sustainable development – including action by decision makers and leaders.
John Ray (1627-1705) pioneered the classification of plants and animals, influencing both Gilbert White and Carl Linnaeus a century later. His writings proclaimed God as creator whose wisdom is ‘manifest in the works of creation’, and as redeemer of all things. Inspired by Ray, JRI seeks to teach appreciation of nature, increase awareness of the state of the global environment and communicate a Christian understanding of environmental issues.
… means balancing the pressing needs of human communities against the equally pressing need to care for the environment. It means managing resources in such a way as to ensure they are equitably distributed now and for future generations.
… means recognising that the ‘Earth is the Lord’s’, entrusted by God to us, and that we shall have to give account for our use of the earth’s resources and our relationship with the whole of His creation.
Nature provides resources for human sustenance and activity and a rich environment for human creativity. It also evokes wonder and worship of God whose personality, power and creative genius are evident throughout creation.
Environmental damage and non-sustainable development are of widespread concern, but progress in translating words into action is constrained by many competing interests. The priorities of society are largely determined by the underlying values of its members whether as individuals, organisations, business or government.
The Church has a key role to play in shaping the values of society and thus in addressing environmental issues. However in recent times its voice has not often been heard, nor has it generally been to the fore in contributing to the environmental debate.
Christians believe that God places great importance on all parts of his creation and has given to people a clear responsibility to be stewards of nature. There is an urgent need for us to translate our wonder at nature into practical care. Scientists, educators and Christian leaders have a unique opportunity to work together in partnership to encourage this and to help equip professionals in all walks of life with an ethical foundation for making decisions that affect the environment.
Projects form the core of JRI’s work. These focus either on specific issues or on developing core principles. Current projects include the following.
Christian Rural and Environmental Studies (CRES)
… a distance-learning course validated by Ripon College Cuddesdon, and organized in association between Christian Rural Concern, The John Ray Initiative, and A Rocha UK. The course has a separate website.
Agriculture and Theology Project
… bringing a ‘stewardship perspective’ to issues in global agriculture, in partnership with the Agricultural Christian Fellowship and the Church Mission Society.
Our project on “Environment and Hope” culminated in a special issue on the theological journal Anvil edited by Rev. Margot Hodson, JRI Director.
JRI Associates have written many relevant books and journal articles and these are detailed on a separate page.
… provide information and commentary on a wide range of topics. All briefings are online, most in PDF format. Those also published in printed form are listed on the response form and can be ordered from the JRI office.
JRI places a high priority on working in partnerships with other individuals and organisations. This is achieved by networking and consultation, by bringing people together in seminars, workshops, and conferences. We also participate in joint projects. With some of these we have a formal Memorandum of Understanding, whereas in other cases the collaboration is informal.
We aim to complement and contribute to the activities and outreach of the UK churches, and of interchurch groups such as the Environmental Issues Network of the Council of Churches in Britain and Ireland and the proposed Ecumenical Environmental Agency. Some organisations we work with include:
A Rocha UK (Christians in Conservation)
Can you help us?
If you share our vision …
- Get in touch with us. We’d be pleased to hear from you.
- Consider promoting JRI, for example in your area or church. Contact us for suitable material.
- Consider giving to JRI. We need funds both to cover our present needs and to expand the work.
- And please pray for JRI’s staff and work.
Can JRI help you?
Are you looking for scientifically informed Christian perspectives on environmental and related issues?
JRI provides Briefings, online and printed, and other publications from the JRI office. The website also provides notification of forthcoming conferences and other items of news.
Would you like to be regularly updated on the JRI programme and notified of new publications? Complete the response form in order to be included on our mailing or e-mailing list.
Are you interested in working with JRI?
Consider joining the Associates Programme. Associates provide a local and personal point of contact with JRI, and help ‘spread the message’. They undergo a programme to acquire a knowledge of JRI’s core principles, and develop communication skills. Contact us for more details.
Would you like to increase awareness of the state of the global environment and of Christian principles of stewardship of creation? Invite JRI to make a presentation to your organisation or church. Subject to availability, we can usually help.
How to find us
JRI’s office is located at the Gloucestershire Resource Centre, near Gloucester city centre.