In different ways, the Methodist Church in Britain has partnered, or promotes, a number of organisations that encourage Christians to engage with ecological issues and to relate issues around climate and creation to faith. The organisations listed below represent a small selection; their work and campaigns are often interconnected.
Eco Church is an A Rocha UK award scheme for churches in England and Wales “who want to demonstrate that the gospel is good news for God’s earth”. For those in Scotland, there is a sister organisation, Eco Congregation Scotland.
Awards (bronze, silver and gold) are given to local churches dependent on a range of criteria: how you -
- express your care for God’s world in your worship and teaching
- look after your buildings and land
- engage with your local community and in global campaign
- reflect eco-senstive values in the personal lifestyles of your congregation
By the end of 2017, around 100 Methodist churches had registered an interest in Eco Church and 15 had applied for an award.
Green Christian (formerly known as Christian Ecology Link) was established in 1981. It was instrumental in setting up Operation Noah (below) on behalf of Christians Together in Britain and Ireland. Green Christian publishes a magazine twice a year, free to members, and Storm of Hope annually: “We use the phrase ‘Storm of Hope’ to describe a form of discipleship that enables us to respond to the cry of the wounded Earth.”
Joy in Enough: Awakening to a New Economics was launched in 2018. The campaign takes as its starting point a vision paper arguing for a fair and sustainable economy. Its authors aurgue that “our current economic model is exhibiting signs of system failure”. Joy in Enough (www.joyinenough.org) presents “a challenge to Christians in Britain, and an invitation to all people of good will, to join in building a just economy within the ecological limits of the Earth”.
Like the John Ray Institute (below), Operation Noah is run and overseen by individuals with strong academic credentials, and representing a wide range of Church denonimations. Through theological work, campaigning and related work, Operation Noah addresses such questions as:
- How should Christians respond to global warming?
- Should the Church be involved with politics?
- How do Christian values relate to climate change?
The charity has been an important voice in the UK-wide debate on the ethics of investment in fossil fuels, In 2012, it launched “Climate change and the purposes of God: a call to the Church” (also known as the Ash Wednesday Declaration).
In 2016 Operation Noah commenced an outreach campaign with the aim of encouraging Christians who do not regard climate justice as a priority to become actively and politically engaged on this issue and to find their voice.
The John Ray Initiative “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. JRI’s mission is to promote responsible environmental stewardship in accordance with Christian principles and the wise use of science and technology.”
John Ray himself was a 17th century English naturalist Christian theologian. He is regarded as the first scientist to approach questions of biology in a systematic way that we would recognise as “modern”. He published important works on botany, zoology, and natural theology.
As well as hosting events, the John Ray Institue website contains a wide range of briefing papers, Bible studies and group resources, including a Bible Study series titled “A Christian Look at the Environment”.