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Eco Church

St John’s Eco Team

We are so thankful for this amazing world and are committed to caring for God’s creation. An expression of this is that we are working toward becoming and Eco Church through the A Rocha Eco Church programme.

The Eco Team were appointed in April 2021 to help the church move forward in this venture.

The team are currently doing an audit of how green we are as a church as well producing regular helpful articles to help us all live more sustainable.

Read on the for a recent call to prayer and action from the team…….

CARING FOR GOD’S CREATION

As we pray for God’s Will to be done on Earth, as it is in heaven, let us prayerfully consider these situations and ask for God’s guidance.

People affected by climate crisis

  • Many people living on Pacific Islands are threatened by rising sea levels to the extent where many islands have disappeared in recent years.
  • Many people do not have access to clean water because of droughts caused by climate change.
  • Many people living in areas where there is a scarcity of clean water are denied access to what little they have, as large multi-national companies have bought land nearby and use the water in the manufacture of their products.
  • Many people are ousted from their ancestral homes, because the Brazilian rainforest is being cut down at an alarming rate, to make way for ranching and grazing beef cattle.

Organisations seeking to address these problems are:

Tear Fund: https://www.tearfund.org
WaterAid: https://.www.wateraid.org
Greenpeace: https://greenpeace.org.uk

God’s beautiful and pristine natural creation under threat

  • Glaciers in the Arctic and Antarctic are melting, causing sea levels to rise as the Earth’s temperature increases.
  • The Brazilian rainforest is being cleared, unlocking carbon which then contributes to Global Warming- an increase in the Earth’s temperature.
  • Fossils fuels are still being used; coal is still mined and burned, creating carbon dioxide and adding to air pollution and Global Warming. Vehicles are still being driven entirely on diesel or petrol, emitting poisonous exhaust fumes in the form of carbon monoxide. Companies want to extract oil from SSSI sites, regardless of the impact this has on the natural world and the balance of nature.
  • Plastic is not being properly recycled and ends up in large bundles in the oceans, trapping large fish and mammals like whales, who are head of the marine food chain, causing an imbalance to occur.
  • The combined effect of all of the above means that the planet is rebelling with freak weather, such as more floods and droughts, as it pants for breath.

Organisations which are seeking to address these problems are:

Greenpeace: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk
Friends of the Earth: https://friendsoftheearth.uk
Toyota: http://www.toyota.co.uk
TerraCycle UK: https://terracycle.com

Animal Welfare, Prevention of Cruelty, Exploitation and Abuse

  • The Yulin Dog Meat Festival is an annual event which takes place in China. Though this is the most infamous, there are others throughout Asia.
  • Trophy hunting is prevalent in Africa and the USA, where people can pay thousands of dollars to shoot animals like lions and tigers, which are either bred for the purpose, or wild and threatened with extinction.
  • Factory farming means that animals kept in that regime never see the light of day and are kept in cramped uncomfortable and unsanitary conditions. They are also fed with growth hormones so that they fatten up quicker. This means that some chickens cannot bear the weight of their bodies and fall over, as they are forced to stand on grids. They are treated like inanimate objects rather than living sentient beings. Pigs are kept in farrowing crates which means that they cannot turn over but must stand in the same position all the time, so that they get fat quicker, will weigh more and therefore fetch a higher price at market.
  • Over-fishing means that in a few years’ time, on the present trajectory, there will be no fish left. Gigantic trawlers fish tonnes of fish every day. They do not get a chance to grow into adults and breed to replenish stocks.
  • Working animals are owned by poor people in many countries, instead of vehicles to transport goods. The people cannot always afford to care for them properly. Animals suffer with sore feet and backbreakingly heavy loads, all day in the heat.
  • Animals are tortured to get them to perform in circuses. Bears are made to stand on their hind legs all day, with chains around their necks to keep them up, so they will look ‘cute’. Many animals are beaten and whipped. Bullfighting continues in the more traditional parts of Spain. Tigers are tethered 24/7 so that tourists can be photographed next to them and elephants and camels labour under heavy loads carrying tourists around in the heat.
  • Dairy cows are not allowed to suckle their young. The calves are whisked away soon after birth and bottle fed with a milk substitute rather than mother’s milk, as that is taken to be sold and the grieving mother is then taken away and re-impregnated, until she is too weak to bear any more calves and is finally killed for meat.

Organisations which are seeking to address these injustices are:

CIWF – Compassion in World Farming: https://www.ciwf.org.uk
PeTA- Peoples’ Ethical Treatment of Animals: https://www.peta.org.uk
SPANA – Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad: https://spana.org
Mercy for Animals: https://www.mercyuk.org
Dogs Trust: https://dogstrust.org.uk
RSPCA – Royal Society for the Protection of Animals https://www.rspca.org.uk
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home https://www.battersea.org.uk
The Donkey Sanctuary https://thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk

Local Environment What to look out for in our own locality

  • Littering. Used fishing tackle on beaches can be poisonous to dogs and birds.
  • Discarded plastic containers/bottles and cans can be dangerous for wildlife.
  • Use of artificial fertilizers in gardens can cause run-off, which is discharged into rivers and the sea. This then kills marine life. Pesticides not only kill wildlife and animal ‘pests’ but are also carcinogenic for humans and birds. For example, “Roundup”.
  • Loss of habitat for birds occurs when trees are felled. Overzealous mowing and strimming of grass causes loss of habit to the insects which birds and other insects such as bees- vitally important pollinators- feed on. It also uses up more electricity.
  • Use of non-organic pest controllers and compost which is not peat free, contribute to carbon footprint, as peat bogs are dug up for compost, eroding the carbon capture which has built up over thousands of years.
  • Street lighting which is left on all night can confuse birds. Streetlights which do not have overhead shields can be confusing for birds.
  • Toxic cleaning products are tested on animals, who suffer in laboratories. They also contribute to loss of habitats and an imbalance in the natural food chain.

Organisations helping to address these issues are:

RSPB- Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: https://rspb.org.uk
RHS- Royal Horticultural Society: https://rhs.org.uk
Dorset Wildlife Trust: https://dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Surfers Against Sewage: https://sas.org.uk
The Soil Association: https://soilassociation.org
Ecover: https://www.ecover.com

Diet & Lifestyle We all have daily choices to make

  • Many foods are sold in plastic packaging, and in some cases are difficult to source without it.
  • Many foods which are imported from distant continents, could be grown locally and so have an inflated carbon footprint.
  • Some foods are produced at the expense of the welfare of people and animals.
  • Fruit and vegetables which are produced non-organically rely on artificial fertilizers to grow.
  • Many ready meals contain levels of salt, sugar and saturates which in the medium and long term are harmful to our health.
  • Advertising often targets the vulnerable and is not always regulated with health risks in mind.
  • In recent years, school curriculums have not always included knowledge of nutrition linked to health and practical food production and preparation.
  • Employment has become increasingly sedentary in the last fifty years.
  • Community exercise facilities such as lidos have shut.

Organisations seeking to raise public awareness in tackling these issues are:

WCRF World Cancer Research Fund: https://wrcf-uk.org
Diabetes UK: https://www.diabetes.org.uk
British Heart Foundation: https://www.bhf.org.uk
Fair Trade: https://www.fairtrade.org.uk
The Soil Association: https://www.soilassociation.org
The Vegan Society: https://www.vegansociety.com
PeTA -Peoples Ethical Treatment of Animals: https://www.peta.org.uk

Fashion and Furnishings- Global Trade

  • Pangolins are threatened with extinction. They are traded for their scales, used in the fashion industry for decorating garments and bags.
  • Crocodiles and snakes are skinned alive, before being made into shoes and bags.
  • Dogs and cows are killed for leather, used in making shoes, bags, jackets, gloves, chairs, settees and car interiors.
  • Rabbits, Alpacas, Goats and Sheep often undergo torturous handling in the production of wool and cashmere.
  • Rabbits are used in laboratories, for testing cosmetics and cleaning products.

Organisations seeking to address this cruelty by providing alternatives and references to them are:

PeTA – Peoples Ethical Treatment of Animals: https://www.peta.org.uk
BWC- Beauty Without Cruelty: https://www.bwcshop.com

Recommended reading

“Saying YES to Life” – Ruth Valerio
“The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide” – Jen Gale
“Animalkind” – Ingrid Newkirk and Gene Stone

Valerie Collings. 10/06/2021

ECO CHURCH – A LITTLE BIT OF BACKGROUND

The name ‘A Rocha’ mentioned in the last few Jottings, may be new to some people. It is Portuguese for ‘The Rock’, and there are biblical references in the New Testament where it refers to Peter as the Rock, and Jesus uses the parable of a house built on rock (or solid foundation), rather than sand.

A Rocha is a Christian environmental charity which began in 1983, when Peter and Miranda Harris visited southern Portugal as mission partners with Crosslinks. They had a love for the natural world, and felt called to find a way to protect this tourist part of Portugal from overdevelopment. A field centre was set up next to the Alvor Estuary on the Algarve, and it was used to record the local birdlife and biodiversity; the initiative was called A Rocha. This centre is still in use today, and has seen many visitors. Over the years, this vision caught on, and similar field centres, have to date been set up in 19 countries (including the UK), covering every continent except Antarctica.

In 2001, A Rocha UK was founded by Rev. Dave Bookless in Southall, a poor multi-cultural area of West London. In partnership with the local council, he had the vision of transforming a small run-down area of land, previously used for car boot sales, and tipping of rubbish, into a wildlife and recreation area, and it became known as Minet Country Park. As well as monitoring the wildlife species, it is also used as an outdoor teaching resource for local children.

A Rocha is a worldwide movement, helping Christians and other people to understand, appreciate and care for nature as something that has a value in its own right, because it is God’s creation. Its field centres emphasise communal living, and the staff, both paid and volunteers, live out a sustainable lifestyle. The conservation projects are small scale, in areas rich in biodiversity and at risk of the adverse effects of habitat degradation due to development and population pressures. Details are available on the website https://www.arocha.org.uk.

Arising from all this pioneering work, A Rocha UK launched the Eco Church scheme in 2016 (previously called Eco-Congregation scheme), to provide a framework and toolkit to mobilise churches to care for creation as a central part of Christian mission and lifestyle. There are now over 3,000 registered Eco Churches, including our own church. Valerie gave a summary of this scheme, in the May edition of Jottings.

Over the last few decades, other Christian charities have been involved in protecting our environment, and encouraging sustainable living, including Tear Fund, Christian Aid, Christian Ecology, Green Christianity, Anglican Alliance, John Ray Institute and so on.

As always, for those interested, there is plenty more information on various websites – Happy Googling !

Mike Lidstone

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