A Beginner's guide to
Denominational and Ecumenical Organisations at all levels
from the Local Level through to the World Council of Churches
with special reference to care of the environment
|Christian Ecology Link's Web Editor writes:||
I attend a little Methodist Church in a remotish part of the Yorkshire Dales. You may attend a Roman Catholic Church in London, or a Free Church in Scotland, or an Orthodox Church in Romania, or a ................. in ........... (fill in gaps as appropriate) How are our churches connected?
We probably, as individuals, are both concerned about looking after the environment. What are our churches doing to care for the environment?
This Webpage attempts to answer these questions. Comments and suggestions are welcome
There are many different denominations in Britain. The larger denominations usually have paid officers who specialise in different jobs. Responsibility for environment issues is often just one of several other jobs that that have to be done by an officer who has responsibility for "Church and Society" or for "International Issues".
By 2003, Each Diocese In the Church of England now has an Environment Liaison Officer. (Sometimes referred to as ELO or DELO). This is usually an unpaid post and the person doing it may be a clergy-person and or a lay-person with a strong interest in the environment. Their job, in part, is when asked, to advise their Bishop on environmental matters. For more details contact Claire Foster
In some mainland European Countries there are Church Environment Officers whose sole responsibility it is to deal with environmental issues. This is not the case in the UK.
You could try and find out who has responsibility for environmental issues in your denomination in the UK by asking someone high up in your denomination. Go to the UK Christian Handbook Website to find contacts for your denomination.
(On this website a Methodist Page and a Catholic Page have been set up. However these two pages do need updating and suggestions for input on them are welcomed.)
Bodies have been set up to facilitate links and joint ventures between denominations at all levels, from the world level, down to the level of small towns.
The World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches (WCC) has its Offices in Geneva, and caters for Protestant and Orthodox Churches. It has a Justice, Peace and Creation "Cluster" the environment section of this focuses on Climate Change, Globalisation and TRIPs. David Hallman the WCC Expert on World Climate Changewent to The Hague in November 2001 and has written a paper for this meeting. The Justice, Peace and Creation Unit produces a twice yearly magazine called Echoes which sometimes focuses on environment issues and can be read online
Europe: CEC and CCEE
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) also is for Protestant and Orthodox Churches. Its office is at Geneva. It has good relations with the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE) which is for Roman Catholics. CEC and CCEE had an Assembly in Graz in Austria in 1997 (at which CEL had a stall): it was the Second European Ecumenical Assembly. The Assembly made several environmental recommendations - see points 5.1 to 5.4 in their document CCEE had a Meeting about the environment held in Celje, Slovenia in May 1999.
Partly as a result of the Meeting at Graz, The European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) was set up for church environment officers, and others, throughout Europe. ECEN meets about every 18 months. Individual ECEN members tend to belong to one or several coalitions, and communicate mostly with members of that coalition ..e.g Tourism Coalition, The Climate Change Coalition etc.
Coming down to the British level:
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI)
What is CTBI? The following is extracted from their website:
CTBI is Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. It is one of the instruments the Churches have created to enable them to work together, and to co-ordinate the work they do separately. Its particular remit covers things it makes sense to do in common across more than one of the nations which make up Britain and Ireland. By "Britain and Ireland" it means England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Why is it Britain and Ireland, not just the United Kingdom? Because the Irish Churches all cover the whole of Ireland, not just north or south. So they can only be partners in a body which does the same.
What does CTBI do?
Twice a year it brings together senior representatives of the Churches, and every two years a much larger Assembly is held. Between those times, it nurtures a host of different networks helping the Churches co-ordinate and share their work in ten key areas: one of which is: Church and Society: (Responding together to social, political and economic concerns where the Churches want to have a voice.) One of the responsibilities of Church and Society is the environment, and this is dealt with in the Environmental Issues Network:
The Environmental Issues Network (EIN)
EIN is a forum for representatives of churches in membership of CTBI and other Christian organisations to consider environmental and ecological issues, both national and global It has three day meetings a year, usually in London. The meetings are attended by officers/representatives of the different church denominations. These officers have responsibility for the environmental issues as part of their work (as mentioned in the denomination part of this section). For example Donald Bruce on behalf of the Society, Religion & Technology Project of the Church of Scotland. CEL sends a representative. Prof 'Sam' Berry is currently moderator. The Churches Environment Project Officer, David Pickering, employed by Encams (formerly Going for Green) acts as Secretary. The officers share whatever news and issues their churches are involved with. CTBI now provides secretarial support ( Eve Wade, John Kennedy's assistant). (As far as I know) the Network has a total lack of finance, other than that the officers are usually paid by their churches as part of their job to attend, and one organisation pays for the secretarial expenditure.
At National Level there are Churches Together in England (CTE), Churches Together in Wales (CYTUN), Action of Churches Together in Scotland (ACTS), and the Irish Council of Churches (ICC)... Though none of their web sites seemed to have much about the environment.
At Intermediate Level there are Regional Churches Together Organisations, e.g. Churches together in Lincolnshire. Some of these may produce an annual newspaper, or have a website, but the regions differ.
At Local Level there are Churches Together in "Your local town". Sometimes these can be quite active, organising joint services for special occasions, such as Remembrance Sunday or One World Week. In Settle we had a special Easter Pilgrimage for the Millennium. CEL would encourage its members to offer CEL leaflets, especially ChurchLink leaflets to other Churches in their local Churches Together area.
Independent, mostly ecumenical, Christian Environment Organisations and Projects
e.g. Christian Ecology Link, A Rocha, JRI, SRT, CRUC, Justice and Peace Groups, Eco-Congregation and others. This section has yet to be added Much of the information for this can already be found in the Weblinks Page and Resources Page
There are also - thankfully - individual Christians working to look after the environment, both within their churches and separate from their churches.
Keep it up!
Copyright © 1998-2003 Christian Ecology Link and J Allinson http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk email: CEL web editor
Page last updated: 12 Jan 2003