Ahead of our Environmental plan A series Graham shares some thoughts

The peril of our planet and society is much to the fore. If we pause to view and consider we are surely aware of the level of deforestation, pollution, hunger and displacement that litters our earth.

One wonders why we don’t act. Mark Hertsgaard wrote: “Many people tell themselves that dangers like global warming are so far off in the future that they don’t really exist. On some level, these people may know better than that, but the possibility that we humans are dooming ourselves is simply too terrible a thought to absorb. It is much easier to pretend the danger doesn’t exist, or adopt a childlike faith that everything will turn out all right in the end… and burrow back into the routine of paying bills, getting the kids off to school, and waiting for the weekend.” (Quoted in Beyond Homelessness, Bouma-Prediger and Walsh)

I usually despair at the debates I read that seem locked in arguments as to whether climate change exists or that it is so far gone that we are doomed. Now, as a reasonable and hopeful person, obviously I want to search for some middle ground.

There is another way of reviewing our reactions which may explain things and give us a way forward.

We find it hard to address environmental issues because we are locked into a human centred way of looking at the world – we do what is best for human beings. On top of that when we make decisions about what is possible based on new technology and what is best based upon the demands of global institutions. Then when we count the cost we base our calculations on market forces and values which do not factor in costs to the environment. I also find it hard because I know I am irrevocably implicated in the consumption of the earth – so I am in the overwhelmed hypocrite category!

So basically, arguments about tackling climate change will never win while we are hard wired to think according to global every expending technological markets. One alternative is to allow a different way of thinking to filter into our planning and action.

A Christian contribution to such thinking is to see the earth as gift and not a possession. As a God given place this world is holy and special: not only are humans wonderfully made, so too is the whole planet!

At times we slip into a view that God is only concerned with human beings. The Bible tells of God’s much wider concern. In Genesis, we learn that all the universe is created by God and all is seen by God as good. God forms humans out of the creation – the dust of the earth and commissions them to be carers of the earth and it’s flourishing. After the flood, God made a covenant with humans and every living creature. In the New Testament Jesus teaches us to pray for the Kingdom to come on earth as in heaven and later Jesus is seen not just as the saviour of humans but the one in whom all creation holds together.

So, this makes the environment a faith issue.

It seems to me that we have neglected this agenda because we have slipped into a very human centred view of the world and a very narrow view of salvation and a Saviour. It is God’s will to restore all that is made and Jesus is the peacemaker, judge and the one in whom all is held together.

This same Jesus took food, the things of life, and blessed them and they were shared with much to spare – in the feeding of the 5,000. This is a story of the wonderful presence and promise of Christ to be with us, take the things of life and offers new ways of sharing that bring abundance. This was a risky moment or uncertain but miraculous outcome. We should not shun such acts in our present age.

I believe that a Christian response to the environment is first and foremost not born of despair, resignation or complacency but of responsibility and promise.

Now before I go back to the daily routines of life, I pause to think about Hertgaard’s take on our apathy. There are many reasons that prevent us from concern – we may simply not care, we may think it will see us out and so what, we may be ignorant of the facts or denying the information.

A Christian view gently and persistently moves us from this stupor to consider an uncertain and yet more hopeful way. Born of the gift and promise of God, to challenge thinking that ignores our environment and to search for what next.

In some small way in 2017, with the help of informed and committed people among us we are aim to open the issues and suggest practical steps for action.

Graham Brownlee,

An environmental plan A – Caring for God’s Creation. Introducing an occasional series that takes a serious look at environmental issues

At times, we slip into a view that God is only concerned with human beings. Actually, the Bible tells of God’s much wider concern. In Genesis, we learn that all the universe is created by God and all is seen by God as good. God forms humans out of the creation – the dust of the earth and commissions them to be carers of the earth and it’s flourishing. After the flood, God made a covenant with humans and every living creature. In the New Testament Jesus teaches us to pray for the Kingdom to come on earth as in heaven and later Jesus is seen not just as the saviour of humans but the one in whom all creation holds together… so this makes the environment a faith issue.Carbon dioxide and climate change has become the first thing that people think of when they consider our impact on our world. However, this is just one area of concern shared by environmental scientists and ecologists. About eight years ago, a group of scientists was convened under the chairmanship of Professor Johan Rockström of the Stockholm Resilience Centre to consider as far as possible, the totality of humanity’s impact upon planet Earth. They identified the following nine areas of concern:

  • Carbon dioxide and climate change
  • Reduction in biodiversity and species loss
  • Use and misuse of nitrogen
  • Land use and misuse
  • Fresh water supplies and the influence of water on climate
  • Release of toxic substances including plastic materials
  • Release of aerosol-sized particles into the atmosphere
  • Acidification of the oceans
  • Damage to the Ozone layer and its consequences

As we shall see, these topics are inter-related, and information on them will be put onto the Church website, month by month for a trial period, beginning with an item on plastics (shopping bags, etc.). In future we hope to touch on topics including food, transport, energy use and so on.


MBC helps Messy Church perfect an exciting new venture

MBC is one of just thirty three UK churches chosen to trial a new, exciting outreach venture. Messy Church does Science is a project that builds on established programmes in order to bring a hands-on, 21st century approach to the link between a Christian understanding of Creation and science.

At Moortown our Children’s Worker, Cas Stoodley, and her Messy Church team set up five separate stations which in fifteen minute blocks each looked a different scientific activity.

As well as being asked to provide video and still images of the session volunteers and visitors were asked to fill in feedback forms which will soon be sent off to project organisers.

Our usual Messy Church takes place on the second Friday of each month (term term). To find out more about this brilliant, all age  activity speak to Cas or email her via this link cas.stoodley.mbc@btinternet.com

To view a larger version of any of our gallery images simply click on the picture or if you prefer you can follow this link to watch some video of the event. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMEVvffJ7tM



Half term treat – Friday 17th Feb

On Friday 17 February, during half term, we thought it would be nice for the children, young people, team and parents of all our groups to get together outside of church. The plan is to meet at Roundhay Park (in the car park near the top playground) at 10.45am and spend a couple of hours having fun together.

The 7 ages of being human and being a church

In Shakespeare’s play “As You Like It” one character Jaques makes a speech describes ‘the seven ages of man’.

These are:

Infancy – being a helpless baby, feeling and feeding, dependent.
Childhood – all about playing, talking, learning and becoming independent.
Teenage – finding identity, forming views, experiencing disconcerting change, testing boundaries, being impatient
Young adult – passionate, powerful, forming depth and direction in work, love and independent home. Finding possibility in fearless ways.
Middle-age – enjoying experience and status, having a defined place in the world. Having well-formed views, expecting to be listened to, enjoying maximum resources, but still holding significant commitments.
Old age – senior in years, with great memory but less energy and drive to achieve even though this is still desired. Having less influence and being more dependent.
Dotage and death – dependence becomes the main thing alongside letting go or the senses and experience of life.

These are brief descriptions of the stages of life that just give you a flavour, or are experiences and expectations through living.
You can find the full speech here.

It strikes me that in a family, or community, we will include people at all these seven stages of life. Extended families and neighbourhoods are at their best when every stage of life is appreciated, and cared for. Back in 2011, we had a teaching series on what is means to find and follow Jesus Christ at different stages of life.

If every stage of life is natural and to be embraced it seems foolish to favour one stage of life over and other and not misunderstand people at one stage so as not allowing them to be themselves.

In society, we may be obsessed with teenagers and young adults in some arts and the media. In politics, we may neglect that same group because they lack a vote. We may also be inclined to pretend that we are at a stage of life which we haven’t yet reached or have passed long ago. It is time for some to stop wearing those tight jeans! It goes without saying that we fear and so hide the final stage of dotage / death.

It seems to me that now is the time to let people be the ages they are and to nurture them at that age. I believe that it is time to appreciate and speak well of each age and not favour one stage of life over another.

Applying this in another sphere, I think that we have individual churches at these seven stages of life. I would go further and say that it is good and natural to have churches at every age. We need child, teenage and young adult churches – but we should not obsess about such youthful churches to imply that they have everything. We need middle aged and older churches which offer so much but should not be taken for granted but nor hold onto all the strings of power and resource. We need to honour dotage churches as they let go.

I celebrate all growth and commitment to church planting and pioneer expressions of church. They are part of our tapestry and vibrancy of Christian community. But in championing them let us value the established and traditional. I hope that we can speak better and in a more informed way of the different ages of church, so that all belong and are celebrated. There is also much to be done understanding what each age of church needs and doesn’t need. For instance, let teenage and young adult churches explore and form identity but don’t burden them with too much institutional responsibility. Don’t take middle aged or older church for granted and assume they have nothing to offer – otherwise they will misuse their influence and try to hold it too tightly. Beware of the twin mistakes of neglecting or offering limitless resource to dotage church.

I have a sneaking feeling that we could understand more fully the ages of human life and church. I have a growing conviction that we need to speak better of one another at our different ages of life (human and church). I am sure that Christ holds and cares of every stage of life, even as the young shall have vision, and the old dream!

At the end of this, I realise that I have betrayed my stage of life. Who else would write 750 words and expect others to stop, read and take notice. Yes at 55 I am enjoying middle age with gusto.

Graham Brownlee, February 2017

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