Greening the church

We are working towards a greener, more sustainable outlook at St Michael’s, one which takes into account climate justice as well as our own spiritual wellbeing. If we dig deep to uncover the causes of our present ecological crisis we will recognise that the plight of our planet is very much related to our spiritual health.

The liberation theologian, Leonardo Boff, takes up this theme in Ecology and Liberation: A New Paradigm. The book seeks to outline the ecological crisis which we have entered into. Like the subversive Christ speaking truth to power, Boff speaks prophet-like to the world and gives warning to those who persist in gaining from economic structures who marginalise, those who subjugate and oppress, those who cause environmental damage and untold suffering in the natural world, for the two are deeply and utterly connected. In his opening chapter, Boff creates a new set of beatitudes which befit this modern age and environmental crisis.

“Blessed those who fight for the earth in the country, so that they can work to turn the land into the banquet table where the worlds hunger can be satisfied. Blessed those who fight for the Earth in the city, so that they can live with the dignity of sons and daughters of God…. BIessed are those who do everything possible and furthermore that are trying to bring about some small part of the impossible. You will experience the realisation of the hope which is indispensable in life. Truly, truly I say unto you: you will be happy because you will bring happiness to my sons and daughters, helping to build my kingdom.”

A theological reflection on God’s creation leads to a growing awareness of the inter-connectedness between the earth and its people. Ecology is an understanding of relationships. It does not only involve the things of nature, it means how our faith, our culture and our society exists within the natural world. We are therefore interdependent – nature and humankind – we cannot survive in isolation. These arguments make for a powerful case, asking for our engagement with social justice issues, and more pointedly today, with eco-justice issues such as climate change, carbon footprints, energy efficiency schemes, renewable energies, recycling and ethical consuming to name but a few.

This little fellow has been working really hard in the church garden, preparing for winter. He deserves a rest!

Our plans for greening the church are small and local, nevertheless it is our hope that this new ecological focus will engage with the local community and beyond. If you are interested in learning more, please get in touch with me. We want to build a team who will convert this vision into reality. Here are a few thoughts which we hope to put into action after the Threshold extension has been completed: the creation of a ‘bible garden’ growing plants (with scriptural references) from the Holy Land; building a labyrinth (a holy maze), creating veggie and herb beds for community use, formulating the use of natural resources to power the church, providing flora and fauna to attract insects, birds and animals. All in all, our vision is to make the connection between the health of God’s vulnerable creation and the fragile health of our own souls. If we nurture both, our community will undoubtedly flourish.

Sunday services: 8am Holy Eucharist; 10am All-Age Harvest Thanksgiving; 6.30pm Quiet Prayer. For more about what is going on at St Michael’s, click here.


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Author: Gavin Knight

The Revd Gavin Knight has been the Vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Summertown in the Oxford Diocese since September 2011. After serving his title at St Alphege, Solihull, Gavin became parish priest of St Andrew's Fulham Fields in London. He moved to Wales in 2005 becoming Chaplain to Monmouth School. He is married to Jo, a clinical psychologist, and they have three sons.