Wanted: Creative Care Coordinator for Major British Evange…… | News and reports

The job advertisement was a little different from those normally advertised by the larger churches in London. It was not for a pastor, a priest, a choir director or an organist. Instead, the large evangelical Anglican congregation wanted an environmental project manager.

Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), perhaps best known as the birthplace of the Alpha Evangelism Course, has advertised a position for someone who will help “oversee the strategy, planning and execution of HTB’s approach in Creation Care”. The individual will work closely with other members of the core team to put an “environmental response at the heart of church life”.

Jobs like this in places like HTB are remarkable, said Jo Chamberlain, national environment policy officer for the Church of England. Such roles, she said, signal a sea change. Evangelical churches in the UK – and perhaps elsewhere – are embracing the crucial importance of creation care and environmental stewardship at the congregational level.

“People recognize that we need to get our house in order,” Chamberlain said. “We can’t just talk about caring for creation without doing the work and changing the way we do things.”

HTB has six locations in London with around 3,500 to 4,500 followers each Sunday. He planted 130 churches in England and Wales and became influential enough that some call it the “centre of British evangelicalism”. The new staff member will help the six sites develop plans to be recognized as “green churches” in five to seven years.

The Eco-Church designation is awarded by A Rocha UK, part of an international network of Christian-ethic environmental organisations, to churches in England and Wales who “want to demonstrate that the gospel is good news for the earth of God”. According to the organization’s website, there are currently over 5,000 registered churches.

To start the process, churches consider how their worship practices, teaching, building use, land use, community engagement, and lifestyle choices “care for God’s earth” or nope. The self-audit includes questions about whether the church’s children’s ministry teaches how to care for God’s earth, whether buildings are energy efficient, and whether part of the congregation’s property has been set aside for children. native wildflowers. A Rocha then makes suggestions on how congregations could take further steps to improve their status as an “ecological church.”

Achieving green status will only be the start, said Mark Elsdon-Dew, HTB’s director of communications. The main goal is to initiate a culture change at HTB that will “transform the way we do things more permanently,” he said.

The project manager is a one-year term position, but Elsdon-Dew said HTB hopes the individual will make a difference in the church. Immediate areas for improvement may include creating a carbon-neutral website, using more biodegradable consumables, and installing LED lighting. In the longer term, the church wants to see big cultural changes.

Elsdon-Dew said these changes could go beyond HTB to influence evangelical Anglican churches in the UK. Those planted by HTB may also be keen to pursue ecological church recognition. Church planters and the church network tend to replicate the culture of HTB in their own context.

“They’re eager to pick up ‘new vibes’ at the house church,” he said.

At the same time, he said, HTB is not trying to be a pioneer.

“We don’t do this stuff to make a point,” he said. “We go ahead and do our business, go as far as we can, and leave the rest to the Holy Spirit.”

Ruth Valerio, director of advocacy and influencing at international Christian relief and development agency Tearfund, said she saw more and more Christians and churches like HTB struggling with their role in the fight. against climate change.

“Creation care was once a fringe issue that was not understood or embraced by the mainstream church,” she said. “As the reality of the climate crisis becomes clearer and vulnerable communities around the world begin to feel its devastating effects, Christians have rightly increased their response.”

For her, the most significant development is how churches are beginning to embed care for creation at the heart of their ministries.

“New environmental responsibility jobs in Christian organizations are proof that the church takes these issues seriously,” she said. “Environmental responsibility jobs should be an integral part of a church’s mission as a child worker or evangelism coordinator.”

In the Church of England, more than 40 environmental officers work with a growing network of activists, theologians, land managers and local conservationists who help congregations take practical action on the use energy and nature conservation and connects them with others active in their communities. .

“Sometimes the solution is simple, but often it’s complicated,” Chamberlain said. “You’re going to need someone to manage and oversee the process.”

Even so, Chamberlain is sometimes rebuffed by those who feel that concern for creation and environmental stewardship distracts from what they see as the church’s primary evangelistic work. But, said Chamberlain, “Caring for creation is part of the gospel, it is a fundamental aspect of loving our neighbor, it is key to our mission.

“I don’t think you can do a mission unless you’re doing well environmental these days,” she said. “This issue is so important in the UK; it is in fact a question of responsibility for the churches.

That is why she is particularly encouraged to see a leading institution like HTB taking a committed step to emphasize the care of creation in the daily life of the church.

“It’s important for a church with a passion for evangelism, like HTB, to have something to say about the environment,” she said. “Perhaps it is to say that this is a matter of credibility for churches, not just a ‘nice to have’.”

Cameron Conant, a board member of Operation Noah, which helps bring about a Christian response to the climate crisis, echoed Chamberlain, stressing the symbolic value of HTB.

“This looks like a significant change for a network that previously had little interest in environmental issues. This made me wonder if other large churches or evangelical networks in Europe or North America were hiring for similar positions,” he said.

But even churches that don’t have the budget for a new post can take steps to prioritize creation care, Conant said. They can start by supporting people who want to walk or bike to church, plant trees and install solar panels, or divest from oil and gas companies.

“It all helps to show that we live in a world that God loves,” Conant said. “We need to do this as churches because when we understand the impact these things have on our neighbors, we realize it’s gospel work, not because we’re progressive or woke or whatever. whatever, but because we are Christians.”

The new position is expected to start in mid-October.

Barry F. Howard