Is creation care part of your walk with God? This was the question we focused on during this year’s Refuel. We were trying to emphasize that Christians are called to care for this world that we inhabit because God loves all of his creation. He has a purpose for it all, not just for people.
We designed a brief survey as a way to encourage reflection, and to start discussion. We asked people about their environmental awareness and actions, and whether their faith had an impact on these.
Our display highlighted a host of Biblical verses about creation. We contrasted these with facts about how humans are currently treating God’s world, our impact on our environment. In the midst of these we had red and green hearts illustrating Christian responses: hope, reflect, love, pray, change, act, share and restore. Over the display hung our beautiful banner – ‘For God so loved the world’.
The combination of the display and the survey prompted good discussions with people: those attending seminars in the Moray Churches tent, others coming in to browse or for a quiet moment of prayer, and, not least, fellow stall holders. (The Moray Churches tent aimed to provide a sanctuary for prayer and reflection in the busy-ness of Refuel.)
Nearly 90% of those surveyed said their faith had an impact on their desire to protect the environment. We found that most people recycled. Many tried to reduce their plastic use and waste more generally. A few opted to travel more sustainably and reduce car use. A handful ate less meat or grew their own vegetables. Some had not linked their faith to creation care before. Several were very environmentally aware and active and wanted advice and encouragement to build creation care into the life of their church.
We appreciated the opportunity to start these conversations, hopefully planting seeds that will bear fruit in the future. This year, David Coleman from Eco-Congregation Scotland held two seminars in the Moray Churches tent. We were delighted to be able to reinforce his message with our week-long presence at Refuel – and we’re looking forward to next year!
A Walk and Spiritual Reflection with Moray Network
In the evening, on the longest day of the year, twenty of us set out for a walk along the beach at Burghead. Glorious light and the sound of the sea surrounded us as we stopped on the beach and gathered round for the first of six stops on our journey. At each stop there were prayers, and reflections on the changes to the natural environment as we moved from the barren sand, through the towering dune system into the more fertile forest area, planted to keep the dunes in check many years ago. These reflections were also compared to our Christian Journey, as we grow and mature in a community of faith. At our last stop we sang “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom” before returning to Burghead Free church hall for a welcome cup of tea and cake.
A super walk in friendly company. I am looking forward to next year’s walk…. It will be an event not to be missed.
Aileen Buchanan, Francis Mitchell (both members of the Duffus, Spynie & Hopeman Eco group), Richard Lochhead MSP, Rev Jenny Adams.
Duffus, Spynie & Hopeman Church welcomed Richard Lochhead MSP to present the congregation’s Eco-Congregation Silver Award on Sunday 6th May. The award recognises the congregation’s actions to care for creation in its spiritual life, practical work and global living. Duffus, Spynie & Hopeman were particularly commended for the range of people in its Eco group, the regular sharing of environmental issues in the quarterly church magazine, the ongoing work to reduce energy use, and its links with local schools, uniformed organisations, and other churches in Moray. The next stage for the congregation will be to work towards a Gold Award, which would see creation care embedded in every part of church life.
Mr Lochhead, Moray’s MSP and former Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said, “It was an absolute pleasure to present Duffus, Spynie and Hopeman Church with their Silver Eco-Congregation Award. We all have a responsibility to do what we can to protect our environment and to care for our planet, and the church is working hard with other local organisations to take practical steps to do that. The church is showing real leadership and are a great example of how we can make small changes in our local communities to address global problems.”
Rev Jenny Adams, minister of Duffus, Spynie & Hopeman Church of Scotland, is delighted that this area of work is being recognised. “We believe we are part of God’s creation, and have a responsibility to care for it. We’re trying to take that seriously, in our local communities and across the world, in spiritual and practical ways. The award is a marker of an ongoing commitment and challenge.”
Eco-Congregation Scotland is a movement of Scottish church congregations, of all denominations and none, committed to addressing environmental issues through their life and mission. There is a network of registered Eco-Congregations across Moray, who meet a few times a year to learn together. The Award scheme is optional, but encourages congregations to keep making progress.
How does your church care for God’s creation? Would you like support to do more?
Eco-Congregation Scotland is an ecumenical movement helping local groups of Christians link environmental issues to their faith, reduce their environmental impact, and engage with the community (www.ecocongregationscotland.org). A number of Moray churches have already become involved: for example, Alves & Burghead; Bellie & Speymouth; Duffus, Spynie & Hopeman (all Church of Scotland); Holy Trinity; St John’s (Scottish Episcopal); and St Margaret’s (Catholic).
Representatives from the different congregations in Moray meet regularly for mutual support and to share ideas. We’d like to inspire members of other congregations to join us and to find out more about the links between faith and creation care. We’re particularly keen to increase the number of different denominations involved.
With this in mind, on Saturday 17th March, we’re hosting a meeting in the Williamson Hall in Elgin. David Bethune, the Eco-Congregation Scotland coordinator will provide information about the movement. He’ll explain how local congregations can get involved by registering and by taking part in the new awards scheme. Local church members will give examples of what they’ve done to ‘green’ their churches. There’ll be opportunities to share ideas and challenges, too.
We warmly invite you and members of your congregation (including young people) to join us. We’d be grateful if you could advertise this opportunity, and encourage interested people to attend. A poster advertising the meeting can be downloaded here. Please feel free to circulate it and this message.