Should we promise to care for creation in baptism?
In Church of England services of baptism, confirmation and renewal of baptismal promises there is a section called the Commission where participants promise to live out their faith. You may have heard that recently the diocese of Oxford has authorised the inclusion of an extra question in that Commission:
Will you strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth?
With the help of God I will
The Bishop has written: “We want to warmly commend this question … and encourage teaching and preparation on this theme as part of preparation for baptism and confirmation.”
Interestingly I have picked up some resistance to this from my fellow clergy. It didn’t feel to me so much that they disagreed with the importance of creation care, rather that they felt uneasy with implicitly making it an article of faith. Perhaps there is some suspicion of being woke underlying this? Yet how has ‘woke’ itself become a slur? The word emerged in referring to an awareness of social and political issues particularly as affecting African Americans. But over the last few years it has been used by some to deride progressive attitudes as being merely performative, or insincere. Now it has become often an offensive term with negative associations about those who promote political ideas involving identity and race. I strongly object to this misuse of an important word.
Surely for Christians creation care is not merely ‘woke’ in this derisive sense? The fact that Anglicans have come to include it has the fifth Mark of Mission indicates that it is a fundamental implication of our faith.
‘To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.’
To suggest otherwise would be to minimise our belief in a loving Creator and the goodness of Creation. The Bishop of Oxford has rightly called the introduction of the new question ”a small step, but one of many that we need to take as we engage with the challenge of care for the environment and the path to net zero.” The diocese have the support of the Chair of the C of E Liturgical Commission in promoting this change, and now they want to actively commend its use more widely across the Church. Why not follow their prompt and ask your own church or diocese to adopt it?’
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Comments on "Should we promise to care for creation in baptism?"
I think my query would be why just the 5th mark of mission? I also worry that it will like so many baptism promises, be made but not followed through which diminishes the value of what the participants are doing. I would like to see all congregational members making this undertaking every year maybe as part of New Year Promise as per the Methodists’ covenant service or may be as part of Pentecost recommissioning.