On Tuesday 4 October, St. Martin’s Church in Maidstone offered a warm welcome to all those attending the Environment Forum. These regular forums aim to support individuals and churches as they seek to bring care for the Environment more fully into all that they do. As well as opportunity to discover new resources, they’re also a chance to discuss issues relating to the Church and the Environment, and help further work on the Diocese’s own environmental policy.
With the theme for the day being Liturgy, the event fittingly began with an act of worship led by Revd Matthew Rushton, Precentor at Canterbury Cathedral. Following the service he spoke about the types of liturgical resources available to those looking to bring a focus on Creation and the Environment into their services. While admitting that there weren’t many authorised liturgies available apart from those tied to specific times of the year, he argued that this was in some way an opportunity for churches to be creative with their worship, because every day should be a creation day.
Rt Rev Richard Llewelyn, former chair of the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals, reflected on what he sees as a silence in the Church about animals. He said there was a need to readdress the understanding that animals are here for our benefit, but rather they are here as entities in their own right.
This was followed by a session with Dr. Ruth Valerio, Churches and Theology Director of A Rocha UK, and who is accompanying the Diocese on its environmental journey. Offering a theology for environmental engagement, she unpacked why it was a Christian imperative to have concern for the Environment, explored what the Bible says about Creation and our place in it, and some of the resources available to help people explore it further.
A lively Q and A session then took place with the panel answering questions as far ranging as whether the Church should be encouraging Veganism, to whether the Anglican Church could learn anything from the Celtic tradition’s approach to Creation in its worship.
Archdeacon Stephen Taylor highlighted how earlier in September Bishop Trevor had committed the Diocese to the Eco Diocese initiative at a meeting of the College of Bishops. An extension of the Eco Church project run by A Rocha UK, Archdeacon Stephen said that as part of this commitment volunteers were now required to join a small working group:
“The Bishop is looking to appoint a small group of people to help us progress on this journey. There are a number of criteria we will need to fulfil before we can gain Bronze, Silver or Gold status and so if you or someone you know would like to get involved, I would encourage them to get in touch.”
The first meeting of this group will take place on Wednesday 30 November, 11am to 1pm, at the Archdeaconry in Maidstone. Please contact Archdeacon Stephen if you would like to take part: firstname.lastname@example.org
All churches in the Diocese are still also encouraged to sign up to Eco Church initiative, which uses an online survey as a simple way to help churches think about their impact on the Environment and make changes in order to win Eco Church awards. During the afternoon, Dr Ruth Valerio was delighted to present St. Martin’s Church with its own Bronze Award for all the work they have undertaken so far with Eco Church.