What’s the Gospel for the Greens?
CEL met for its Annual General Meeting and Workshop on the Gospel for Greens, Saturday 19th November 2011 at the Magdalen Centre, Eversholt Street, London.
We started with a communal lunch, during which time we were asked to contribute to a long poster, providing a time line using age. We were asked us to consider and comment on our green awakenings, above the time line from an environmental point of view and below as an expression of faith.
First the business of the Annual Members Meeting and then our workshop. We were joined for our workshop by a Phd student Justyna who’s research embraces how faith can underpin and motivate an indivual’s action on climate change. To stimulate our thoughts there were two ‘interviews’ between our chair Paul and CEL members.
First Howard told us an organisation called ‘Journey into Wholeness‘ which seeks to present the Gospel to New Age followers. He felt the Billy Graham approach from the sixties no longer worked, here we have a generation of people who have no knowledge of Christianity but yet are spiritual seekers. The key to this ministry was to get alongside people listening to their experiences, in order to be able to share ones own. Through this Howard felt he had come to understand John 3, 16. in a new light which now affirmed ‘For God so loved the world,‘ as an expression of God’s tender care for creation as well as the familiar second part ‘that He gave his only begotten Son, so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.’ which focusses on an individual’s relationship with God. Howard summarised by saying that at one time only the destination was important, but now for him the journey formed just as important a part.
Secondly we heard from Maria who is just completing her thesis on ‘Spiritual Currency and the Climate Movement’. This involved exploring identities, looking at the relational aspect, i.e. does a person’s identity relate to the situation. If a person creates a relational identity, they may in fact have a whole repertoire of these for differing situations, meaning that person plays out a certain role depending on the recipient. When meeting someone new which repertoire is used? One needs a bridge of transference, i.e. a way of finding an affinity with that person. Maria felt that CEL allows us to bring together our Christian and Green identities, citing experiences of the Green Movement that completely exclude God.
After these interview, Paul inspired us with some thought derived from a book by Gerald Arbuckle: ‘Earthing the Gospel‘ encouraging us to think about differing aspects of conversion :
We then split into small groups to consider one of the following questions:
- How did faith and environmental belief start, how did they meet (if indeed they have)? How do they support each other? How do they conflict?
- Why do you care about the environment? Why do you care about your faith? How do they support each other? How do they conflict?
- What difference does my faith make to my environmentalism now? What difference does my environmentalism make to my faith? How do they support each other? How do they conflict?
Feedback from small groups to follow.