Memorandum from the Church of England
Board for Social Responsibility
1. The terms of reference of the Church
of England Board for Social Responsibility require it "to
co-ordinate the thought and action of the Church in matters affecting
the life of all in society". The Board reports to the Archbishops'
Council and, through it, to the General Synod.
2. The Board is delighted that the Environmental
Audit Committee is seeking information about activities related
to the Earth Summit of 1992 and the forthcoming World Summit on
Sustainable Development later this year.
3. The Board cannot speak on behalf of other
churches, but much of the Church of England's activity in relation
to the two Summits has been ecumenical. This response therefore
mentions activities involving churches other than the Church of
England. The information is by no means comprehensive: it simply
gives a thumbnail sketch of some of what has been happening during
the decade 1992-02.
4. Following the Earth Summit in 1992, many
churches became actively involved in local programmes to promote
sustainable development in one form or another, frequently building
partnerships with LA 21 officers and other local officials and
activists. Now many churches are gearing up for WSSD later this
5. The nature of the churches is not be
overly centralised in these sorts of activities, particularly
given the local emphasis of the 1992 Summit. There are many examples
of excellent work going on locally which thrive because they have
grown from local enthusiasm and not from centralised directives.
We are, however, seeking to share good practice with each other,
and to this end networks have been established. The Environmental
Issues Network of the ecumenical Churches Together in Britain
and Ireland ensures that colleagues in the different churches
keep abreast of each other's work. On behalf of this Network,
EnCambs, A Rocha, Christian Ecology Link and the John Ray Initiative
are producing information on WSSD for churches in the UK.
6. In the Church of England a network of
diocesan environmental officers has been created. (There are 43
dioceses covering the whole of England, and colleagues in Wales
are included in email groups).
7. Two examples of activities at diocesan
level are as follows:
(a) In Lincolnshire, in 1992, the Churches
Environmental Working Party launched a full colour document called
Earth Covenant with a grant from the Earnest Cook Trust. It went
to every Minister and church secretary from the Humber to The
Wash. It asked for a commitment from each church to some change
in behaviour that was more sustainable. Since then, many churches
have changed, for example many now use low energy light bulbs,
have paper recycling, purchasing policies, ethical investment,
recycling schemes in their youth clubs, energy efficiency schemes,
and churchyard conservation schemes. Since 1992 churches have
been encouraged to work with Local Authority officers and LA 21
officers on community sustainable development projects.
The Rural Action Environmental Scheme and its
successor has given grants using LA 21 principles of sustainable
development. The Churches Environmental Working Party put on several
conferences after Rioon Sustainable Development and LA
21and was instrumental in helping to set up the Lincolnshire
Environment Forum. One success of the Forum was to get all the
Local Authorities to sign up to the Local Government Declaration
on Sustainable Development.
Lincolnshire 2000, a Working Group formed of
interested parties including the churches, was formed. Apart from
conferences the Group managed to fund a project for schoolsa
post of "Schools Environmental Co-ordinator" which ran
for two years and was influential, and a project called "Parish
Environmental Surveys" which was also helpful, but ran out
of funding too soon.
In October 1996 a major event linked to the
Earth Summit was held at Lincoln Cathedral, called Earth Our Home.
This ran for five days, with an international conference, the
whole cathedral taken over for activities and exhibitions, and
an exhibition of Aboriginal art in the Chapter House.
St Francistide Lectures were begun in 1992 and
ran till 2000, drawing together a wide cross section of people
Looking towards the next Summit, the monthly
Diocesan Bulletin is hosting a series of short articles and encouragements
to raise awareness. These are connected to two INSET days being
held with the Diocesan Education Centre and the County Council,
one in April and another in October after WSSD. To support this
process a 40 page full colour Rio + 10 document is being circulated
to schools electronically, using 10 key subject areas, with themes
and activities. The idea is to use the post SATS week in late
May as an environmentally focussed activity week. The response
so far is enthusiastic. It has been noted with sadness that "Eco-Schools"
includes all curriculum areas except RE!
Work is also being undertaken with the Mothers'
Union on a broad range of environmental issues, a process which,
it is hoped, will gather national momentum in time for the Earth
Summit, and so then become global.
(b) In Devon, since 1995, the Devon Churches
Green Action Group has been developing a network of church magazine/newsletter
editors across Devon from different denominations. This is primarily
to mail them short articles on "Sustainable Living"
for inclusion in their own publications. It is estimated that
combined readership of such magazine/newsletters in Devon is between
50,000 to 100,000. The feedback on these has been very positive
Much of the work in the Diocese has used the
Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation process as a theological
framework, for which Local Agenda 21 provides an environmental,
social and economic action programme. Our overall aim is to create
and enhance communities that are inclusive and sustainable, and
to this end churches have a strong role to play in providing a
vision and practice for living together in different ways.
Activities include the following: setting up
of Devon Christian Ecology Group with visits, speakers, a regular
Newsletter and support for environmental work in Madagascar (Azafadi
Project); supporting community economic initiatives, such as development
trusts, credit unions, recycling networks, community businesses,
composting, organic farms, etc; supporting a World Development
Team working on the Jubilee 2000 Campaign, fair trade, landmines,
arms sales, One World Week, global links and Mission Agencies
Forum; running training workshops on green economics; ethical
investment meetings; supporting Devon Churches' Sustainability
Working Group (Local Agenda 21), which has inter alia produced
a series of leaflets on issues in sustainable development, and
has a "resource bank" or church audits, training, displays
In preparation for WSSD, Devon Churches Green
Action Group is planning a Devon Earth Summit Banquet in July,
to mirror the banquet which churches in South Africa will be putting
on during the event itself. This will be a meal produced from
local/fair-traded sources, and will encourage others to do the
same at lest on a daily basis. The Banquet may later be repeated
at a local level across the County in September. The Devon churches
are also, in partnership with other organisations, producing a
Devon map showing sustainable activities which it is hoped two
young people will take to Johannesburg.
8. Information about two parish-based projects,
from the Conservation Foundation and EnCambs, is appended.
9. The Bishops of the Church of England
have taken this subject so seriously that they spent 24 hours
studying environmental issues when they met together in 2001.
A description is given in one of the Parish Pump newsletters appended
to this response.
10. At an international level, key personnel
in the Anglican Communion, which represents 70 million people
in 165 countries, are working together to prepare for WSSD and
to encourage a network of sustainable development activities across
the globe thereafter.
The Venerable Michael Fox
Archdeacon of West Ham
Board member responsible for Environmental Issues