What the Bible says about our responsibility to the Earth
Psalm 24:1 proclaims that the world belongs to God. Psalm 150:6 invites every living being to praise Him. Yet as the Bible and history tell us, we humans have repeatedly gone our own way, killing more than we consume and damaging His beautiful creation in the process. We think we know it all.
The Bible tells us from its opening chapters to the final book that God gave humans responsibility over His world. He is in charge and expects us, made in His image, to cherish it. He loves His world (cosmos in John 3:16) so much that He sent that part of Himself through whom all things were created and are held together, His Son Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15-17), to rescue it by dying as a man on a cross and rising to life ('It is finished', he said). We are, Jesus said, like the tenants of a landlord.
Crucially, this brought the offer of salvation to humanity, an offer which remains open. Meanwhile, the whole of Creation has eagerly awaited the establishment of His kingdom, on earth as in heaven (Matthew 6:10), as prophesied by Isaiah.
This gives hope for the future and a responsibility to care for the beautiful, complex, interconnected wonder that is life on earth.
There is however a terrifying sting in the 'tail': the 'merchants of the earth' whose greed has damaged His world will perish (Revelation 18). We are to be happy with little and not conform to their ways (Romans 12:2).
In May 2021, our PCC agreed a public recognition of the climate emergency. You can read it here.
In July 2021, we received a silver Eco Church award from A Rocha UK.
The Eco Church scheme provides a framework for churches. A survey takes you through five key areas of church life:
Worship and teaching
We learn the value of God's creation through teaching, prayer and worship.
We celebrate CreationTide in September but do not limit our teaching on creation care to that.
We have run Lent courses on creation care in 2017 and 2021, and taken part in Making COP26 Count.
We have marked Climate Sunday since 2019 and will do so again on September 19th 2021.
Management of church buildings
We use sustainable materials in all new building work, such as the St Mary's Church Centre.
We audit our energy use every ten years (2010 and 2020).
We have taken measures to reduce heat loss and upgraded our boilers.
We are using the Energy Footprint Tool in our parish returns.
We consume green electricity and gas.
We have installed bike racks.
We have conducted wildlife surveys - including plants, bugs, bats and reptiles - and this year took part in Churches Count on Nature. Five species of bat have been identified flying around St Mary's, and our south porch has been a registered natterer's bat roost (see below).
St Peter's has some relatively uncommon species such as betony, orchids, grasshoppers and dark bush crickets. We have taken BBOWT advice in managing their habitat.
In St Mary's cemetery, which is adjacent to a small nature reserve, we have added a garden of remembrance, put bat boxes onto trees and spotted woodpeckers and tree creepers.
We work to improve the biodiversity of all of our land, for example the “Let It Grow” zone in St Mary's churchyard.
We have been a Fairtrade Church since 1997 and provide Fairtrade coffee, tea and sugar.
Bats in the Churchyard
On Friday 28th June 2019, we found some interesting bats.
Early visitors to our flower festival saw a juvenile bat on the floor of the south porch of our church. As the pup was unable to fly, we rang the South Bucks & Berks Bat Group and on their advice placed him on a ledge of the porch, away from feet and the sun.
Rose-Ann Movsovic, a licensed handler who had run a bat survey in our land in 2018, arrived within 15 minutes. She identified a juvenile male Natterer's bat, which is over 10 times less common in Britain than pipistrelles. She gave him some milk from a special little bottle, declared our porch a registered bat roost and took him to the local Bat Rescue Centre. At 9 pm she returned with the pup in the hope of reuniting him with his mother - an operation that often fails and involved infra red lights, a video camera, iPad and bat detector.
Would there be a mother and child reunion? Click the Videos tab on their Facebook page and view their video entitled "Wargrave Natterer" to find out ...
It's public access, so you won't need a Facebook account.
By October, the video had been watched over 12,000 times on their web site and shared many times all over the world !