Church-goers will don wellies to clean local waterways, plant trees and promote wild areas in churchyards as part of a global initiative to encourage biodiversity and help stem the effects of climate change.
From 1 September to 4 October Christians around the world, including from the Church of England, will join together for the Season of Creation, a festival of prayer and community action to help protect the natural world.
An Ecumenical initiative launched in 1989, Season of Creation was given a major boost by Pope Francis in 2016 when, speaking before nearly 2 million people at the World Youth Day in Krakow, he declared 1 September an annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
And with devastating wildfires in the Amazon and Siberia, the hottest late August Bank Holiday on record in the UK, and global wildlife populations reported to have reduced by 60 per cent between 1970 and 2014, more and more people are being moved to action.
Under its full theme ‘The Web of Life: Biodiversity as God’s blessing’, Season of Creation 2019 encourages churches and communities to hold sustainability events, including cleaning local waterways, planting trees and allowing churchyards and other spaces to grow wild in order to encourage biodiversity. Participants are also challenged to photograph and share images that celebrate the biodiversity around their church on social media using #SeasonofCreation.
The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam a member of the Season of Creation Steering panel who also chairs the Church of England’s Environmental Working Group, said: “We love the beauty of the earth. The fires in the Amazon show how interconnected we are in this beautiful, wonderful, fragile planet. We know there are serious issues to address if we are going to care for God’s earth.
“Season of Creation is a chance once again to give thanks for the gifts of creation, to pray and act in ways that care for God’s creation and address the issues of climate change and the depletion of species. It is the joyful, hopeful responsibility of people throughout the world and particularly of the Church which is both local and global.”
Churchyards are important for their habitats and as refuges for wildlife and plant life. Most churches have some green space. And in some urban areas they are the only green ‘breathing’ space available for both wildlife and people. It is estimated that six out of 10 churches in this country have churchyards, roughly equalling the area of a small national park.
They are a precious resource which can make a huge difference to the biodiversity of the UK.
The theme encapsulates two theological principles, that all creation comes from God, and that humans play a part in it.
The Church of England has collated online resources to equip churches, communities and individuals to respond and pray during the Season of Creation 2019. It also provides resources for prayer and worship throughout the year here, and practical advice on biodiversity.
For more creationtide information see:
"The web of life: biodiversity as God’s blessing” https://seasonofcreation.org/guide/