Creation Care with A Rocha International

Care for the environment is not an optional extra for a few concerned Christians on the fringes of the church;
it is an integral part of our mission as God’s people.

The problems facing our natural world are increasingly evident. Global temperatures, sea levels, and the list of species facing extinction are all rising. So too is our realisation that our actions (or inaction) are largely to blame. Sadly, the Church has not always displayed a high regard for the world around us. But the Bible tells us that we have a God-given mandate to care for our world.

“What was Adam called to do when he was placed in the Garden of Eden? Answer: to tend it, to care for it. This is God’s creation, it is not ours. We are here as stewards. God has given us the immense privilege, but also the immense responsibility of living in this world and passing it on to others.” – Rev. Prof. Alister McGrath, Theologian¹

 

“Because of the dominion or responsible stewardship which God has given us, Christians should be in the vanguard of those who are seeking to arrest climate change.” – Rev. Dr John Stott, Theologian¹

At CCCW we believe mission should encompass all that God has given us – we have a duty to serve both our fellow humans, and the world that God created for us. The worldwide Church is recognising this more and more. For example, the fifth mark of mission of the Anglican Communion is: to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth. As Christians, we therefore have a duty to be concerned about the state of creation as an end in itself.

Crucially, though, creation care doesn’t mean abandoning service to your fellow humans. The third and fourth marks of mission call us to respond to human need by loving service and to seek to transform unjust structures of society. Creation care, service and justice go hand in hand. In particular, it is increasingly clear that environmental problems such as deforestation, climate change, pollution, and desertification affect the poor disproportionately.

The rural poor depend directly on the natural resource base. This is where their pharmacy is; this is where the local supermarket is; this is in fact their fuel station; it is their power company; it is their water company. What would happen to you if these things were removed from your local neighbourhood? This is what happens to the rural poor when environmental degradation takes place.” – Dr Stella Simiyu, Plant Conservationist¹

As Christians we are called to look after the environment responsibly and carefully in a way that benefits the whole of creation and does not exploit its resources for the advantage of the wealthy few. Therefore, caring for creation is not just one aspect of a broad definition of mission. It actually encompasses ALL types of mission.

 

This is why we have partnered with A Rocha International

 

A Rocha is an international Christian conservation charity working across the globe. Through local community-based conservation projects, scientific research and environmental education, A Rocha aims to show God’s love for all of His creation. A Rocha was founded in Portugal in 1983 to give a “practical expression to the conviction that it is a completely normal part of the Christian life to care for God’s creation”.

In conservation terms, A Rocha’s vision is quite wide, as it is to see ecosystems restored, but it is also to see to the well-being of those human communities that are dependent on them. So you are talking about restoration ecology, but at the same time you are sometimes talking about developmental economics or sustainability. It’s a very wide vision.” – Peter Harris, Founder²

 

Sustainable development is very important for the population. When A Rocha is working for biodiversity, and against deforestation, A Rocha is really fighting against poverty. We cannot separate taking care of the earth and taking care of so many people who are so poor in the world.” – Paul Jeanson, Chair of Trustees for A Rocha France²

¹Quotations courtesy of A Rocha International’s video, ‘Introducing A Rocha’, edited by Melissa Ong & Daniel Tay, http://www.arocha.org/en/resources/introducing-a-rocha-video/ 
²Quotations courtesy of A Rocha International’s video, ‘Why Should Christians Care for Creation?’, edited by Melissa Ong & Daniel Tay, http://www.arocha.org/en/resources/a-rocha-why-should-christians-care-for-creation/

 

Find out more about a placement with A Rocha International? Read about the A Rocha Encounter Scheme here.

 

Further Resources

We have a number of resources available through the CCCW library. You are also welcome to contact the Encounter Coordinator or CCCW Librarian for further suggestions.

  • Browse A Rocha’s many videos and blog posts on the theme of Creation Care.
  • Bauckham, Richard, Bible and Ecology: Recovering the Community of Creation,  London: DLT, 2010.
  • Boff, Leonardo, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1997.
  • Bookless, David, Planetwise: Dare to Care for God’s World, Nottingham: IVP, 2008.
  • Bookless, David, ‘Christian Mission and Environmental Issues: An Evangelical Reflection’, Mission Studies 25, 2008.
  • Kaoma, J. (ed.), Creation Care in Christian Mission, Oxford: Regnum Books, 2016.
  • Simiyu, Stella and Harris, Peter, Caring for Creation: Part of Our Gospel Calling?, Cambridge: Grove Books, 2008.
  • Various authors, ‘Mission and Creation’, International Review of Mission 99.2, 2010, pp.173-307.
  • White, Robert (ed.), Creation in Crisis, Cambridge: Faraday Institute & SPCK, 2009.
  • White, R. and Bell, C (eds.), Creation Care and the Gospel: Reconsidering the Mission of the Church, Peabody: Hendrickson, 2016.