On Saturday 16th September approx. 50 people from all over the Circuit gathered at Minsterley
for an 'Away Day' on the theme of Hope in our Care for Creation. In the opening worship, Rev Neil Richardson explored the Biblical justification for hope, looking in particular at what St. Paul says in Romans ch.8. Neil commented that the "wrath of God" is best understood as the consequence of human failing, pointing to the effects that humankind has had upon the climate. When the environment is in crisis we suffer and God weeps. God's wrath can therefore be better understood as God's anguish.
Our main speaker for the day was Hamish Leese, the Action for Hope Implementation Officer for
the Methodist Church, who talked about the challenges of the Methodist Church's commitment to
net zero by 2030, and the opportunity to see it as mission. The commitment is across all aspects of
the church's life; our buildings, events and investments. However, this is cannot be an initiative
delivered from the top – it needs everyone and every church to be involved. Nor can this be
achieved 'over night'; there is a recognition that we need to start small in order to seek
transformation. In fact, a desire to reach net zero carbon emissions demonstrates our hope in God's
future as an opportunity for mission. Mission can be described as joining in with what God is doing -
caring for God's creation. Importantly, this also gives us an opportunity to engage with, and partner
with, those who are not affiliated with the church, but are passionate about environmental issues.
Our journey to net zero needs to be seen in the way we maintain our buildings, in being
thoughtful about making travel arrangements, by making sensible use of technology where
appropriate, in how we engage with our local communities, and by expressing our concerns through
prayer and worship.
There are complex issues that will need patient planning, starting by understanding where we are
now, creating a pathway to where we want to be, and asking ourselves how our actions fit this plan.
There are some useful resources to help with this, such as the ECO Church programme that a
number of churches in this circuit are already pursuing, having gained Bronze or Silver Awards.
Other resources include creationcare.org.uk and a carbon footprint tool for churches at
The whole process may well take time so it is important to make a start by embedding the
principles of creation care into all of our church life, through things like special Sundays, guest
speakers, carefully chosen liturgy and prayers, small group studies, enquirers courses looking at
green issues as well as evangelism, and coffee mornings (and other forms of catering) using
Hamish left us with two guiding principles in our care for God's creation:
As people made in the image of God, we believe we are called to reflect God's nature in being
present and active in caring for creation.
The principle of 'connexionalism' is important in reminding us of our own network of belonging
and believing, and that individual Methodists and their congregations never view themselves
apart from a wider body of believers, nor the wider work and purposes of God.
In the afternoon our District Chair, Rev Rachel Parkinson, introduced the work of the Joint
Advisory Committee on Ethics of Investment (JACEI) to which she has recently been appointed as
Chair. JACEI acts as advisor to the Central Finance Board (CFB) and its offshoot Epworth Investment
Management. It is important to note that CFB is run by Christians as part of their Christian
commitment. This is evident in the way that they can model ethical values to the investment market
and provide an evangelistic witness in so doing.
Rachel illustrated this with stories of work done by companies in which CFB invests and has
shareholder influence, such as improving the working conditions for tea plantation workers in Sri
Lanka and the rights of farmers in Brazil. Often the best way to influence companies is to continue
to invest so that we can have a voice in the boardroom, backed up by 70 million Methodist people
worldwide; but at other times the best course of action is through disinvestment. Currently the
Methodist Church does not invest its funds in oil, armaments, tobacco and gambling companies.
There are things that we can all do as individuals:
Keep ethics in mind when you do your shopping.
Find out about the work of JACEI and the CFB – sign up for Client Conversations.
Take an interest in your private pension, if you have one. Is there an ethical policy?
Find out about your bank, and if you're not happy, consider switching.
If you have investments, how do they match up with your Christian principles? What options are
available to you?
For practical guidance visit the website justmoney.org.uk
The closing worship was led by Deacon Carys Woodley, who had also led an alternative afternoon activity
experiencing Forest Church. She emphasised the importance of being still and observing, as a way of engaging
with all that nature and creation has to teach us.