Introducing our Eco-Bishops: Bishop Nick Holtam – Bishop of the Planet!
Bishop Nick Holtam has been invited by the Church of England to be the Bishop with a special portfolio for the Environment, and has been dubbed the “Bishop of the Planet”. He began his public ministry in the Diocese on 15 October 2011, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1980. His studies include geography and theology and he is husband to Helen and father to four adult children, David, Timothy, Sarah and Philip.
This year on St. Francis Day, Bishop Holtam participated in worship at The Living Churchyard Project and celebrate in the midst of the open air and wildlife. The Living Churchyard Project has involved more than 100 churches competing for the creation of “wildlife-friendly churchyards,” encompassing both urban and rural settings. The initiative in churchyards has shown a rich resource in Britain, around 6,000 churchyards have established practices void of pesticides and keeping grass short. These routines develop places where insects, birds, bats, reptiles and many other forms of organisms can have a place to live. The norm is to take away these natural habitats and niches in the name of urban development, which are vital for many species to survive and thrive.
Bishop Holtam has been quoted as saying, “there is a convergence for the world’s faith in caring for God’s Earth” and spoke in a recent sermon reflecting on words showing the way to relate and be at peace with the whole Earth is to begin with ourselves our neighbors surrounding us without limit. For a Christian, care begins with prayer and a matter of the spirit, which leads into action. It is easy to lose hope while looking at the decline of populations around the world, but the Church of England’s lead bishop of the environment has hope with faith and the strong efforts through the Church.
From graffiti the Bishop noticed in a London station saying, “If you don’t believe the environment is more important than the economy, see how long you can hold your breath for whilst counting your money” to the environmental declaration from the Lambeth Conference in 2009, calling on local and international action to live sustainably and reduce climate changing activities, he emphasizes the importance to continue to think and act locally and globally with a environmentally guided minds.
The Eco-Bishops will be gathering in Feb under the leadership of Archbishop Thabo Magkoba to look at how climate change and other environmental issues can be prioritised in the Anglican Communion.