The Green Room ~ World Environment Day


by the Revd Dr John Harrison


World Environment Day logoIn 1972 the General Assembly of the United Nations passed Resolution 2994 at the start of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, which established the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and also fixed World Environment Day (WED) in the calendar as June 5th.

The intention was that this day would provide a focus for environmental awareness and a vehicle for stimulating political action to protect planet Earth.

Each year would focus on a different theme and country; in 2007 the location was London and the focus was the problem of melting of ice-caps, ice-sheets and glaciers.

In 2015 the concern in Italy was the impact of our consumer society – “consume with care” - while in 2016 the issue will be the illegal trade in wildlife, which links back to my comments on extinction in last month’s Green Room.

In 2016 WED falls on a Sunday so this is an ideal opportunity for the Christian community to be a special part of this global coming-together to share our common concerns about the world in which we live.

While the Christian church already has Conservation Sunday (nearest Sunday to June 5th) let’s make WED 2016 a very special day.

How many churches in our diocese preach on environmental issues – how many use the diocesan resource “Praying for the Earth”?

Just for once let’s move away from the standard lectionary and give our church services on Sunday June 5th over to our care for God’s creation.

An Internet search will give you a number of preaching and prayer options, although you should be aware that many websites are somewhat dated.

And how do we all get ourselves to church?

Why not explore different travel options?

Morning worship aside, there are many environmental activities that are well within the capacity of a congregation.

Pledges to choose environmental/sustainable lifestyles, to clean up our local environment, to encourage wildlife in our churchyards, to recycle waste wherever possible, to grow our own vegetables, or to plant trees are within the scope of moderately active adults both young and old.

For the less active, the environment provides us with opportunities for creative artwork such as false stained glass windows on plastic film, poetry, collages, or art/drawing competitions.
Whether as individuals or collectively as a congregation, why not set yourselves a small project during May, which will come to fruition on June 5th?

Alternatively, use June 5th as a platform for launching a longer-term environment project.
Whatever you decide – and I hope ALL churches can find something that can be achieved – don’t take on too much – the emphasis should be on what can be achieved, not on saving the whole world, and I know you will gain much satisfaction from your experiences.

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  • Dr John Harrison FRMetS is the Bishop of Newcastle’s Environmental Adviser, and a former Vice-Dean of Natural Sciences and Senior Lecturer, Climate Laboratory, in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Stirling University.

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