Diocesan Coordinators met with key ‘movers and shakers’ from the Diocese of Lesotho and the Diocese of Free State at the beautiful Diocesan Centre of St Augustines.
The goal of the meetings was to share ideas and strategies to grow the environmental ministry. Several of the participants had just returned from Zambia and were full on inspiration and keen to be part of the national action plans that had been put together there.
Some of the key strategic issues that were raised at the gathering were the following:
How to keep the fire burning?
Often people start with the environmental ministry but then they burn out or they lose interest. Some of the strategies that were discussed were – to create Green Evangelists –identify those with the passion and equip and inspire them. They need to be equipped with enough knowledge to educate others with theology and science in a non- academic way. We need to have ongoing sharing and gatherings across the Diocese. The Bishop could be encouraged to give “eco-champion” certificates when he comes for confirmation visits.
How to make environmental ministry a priority not an add-on?
The messaging that we used for HIV is helpful – if you are not affected, you are infected! I may not have a drought in my Province, but the world is infected with climate change. We need to incorporate environmental prayers and teaching into our main seasons such as advent and Pentecost, not just the environmental days. We need to ask for slots at the Conferences and gatherings of other guilds and organisations such as Mothers Union or Anglican Youth. In this way we are starting a movement (Green Mothers Union, Green Youth Group) rather than an organisation which people may feel is taking members away from their guild.
When we are reporting to diocesan structures such as archdeaconries or parish council, we should ‘share’ rather than ‘report’, which is a more inclusive way of reporting. Environmental policies and resolutions passed at Synod need to be repackaged in the language that all will understand. For upcoming Synods, the resolutions should be workshopped with different role players.
It is important to involve the Sunday school in this ministry – once children grow up caring for God’s creation it will be a priority for life.