27 September - 1 October 2006, Flämslätt, Sweden
The sixth ECEN Assembly met in Flämslätt, Sweden, from 27 September to 1 October, with the title, "Living in a New Energy Era".
It was a time of creativity, hard work, and hope, in the face of the urgent issues we face in Europe and the world, from climate change, energy supply, and justice for the developing world. The Assembly produced a lot of material which is available below. This is still being added to and Assembly participants are invited to contribute material and photographs for the website.
ECEN has been considering the issue of energy at its Assembly in Flamslatt in September 2006. It examined energy previously in Minsk in 2001 when it asked "churches to commit themselves to promoting energy scenarios in which priority is unambiguously and deliberately given to energy saving and energy generation from renewable sources."
Energy production and consumption in Europe faces huge challenges today:
- climate change is an immediate and real threat
- peace is threatened by global energy inequalities and politics
- fossil fuel is rising in price as "peak oil" is approached
- nuclear power plants are being planned but are not an ethical option for many
These are symptoms of the distorted values of consumer societies which seek happiness by exploiting the resources of the world instead of enjoying its blessings in Christian love. In the light of Christian mission and concern for justice, we call churches, as big energy consumers, to action. Energy in the physical sense of the term is embedded in a wider horizon of spiritual energy and vital energies. In God's liberating compassion our God is like the bush which burns and is not consumed (Ex. 3). In Jesus Christ, God communicates to us the healing and transforming power of love (Jn. 15.9). Love is the energy of faith (Gal. 5.6), God's infinite gift for finite beings in a finite world. Such is the leading perspective for Christian responsibility in the field of energy needs, energy use and energy politics.
The atmosphere, water and soil of planet earth on which God has placed us has limits which our demands for energy are exceeding. We need to learn to live within the limits of the carrying capacity of the earth and bear Christian witness through changed lifestyles.
But the biodiversity of life, its variety and beauty, the opportunities for scientific discovery and artistic creativity, the ways in which nature can lead us closer to God, have no limits.
Raise awareness about the need for less speed and consumption: and long for the true wealth of the earth.
The reasons to save energy are undeniable. You can cut energy bills by a large percentage, it is cheap, it does not involve complicated technology, it does not involve sacrifice.
Why don't we all do it? It is not glamorous, it is tedious to implement, there is nothing to be seen when it is done, and there is always something more interesting to do.
Sort out energy efficiency in the church, in the homes of the congregation, and in transport:
- carry out an audit of energy use and mobility patterns
- make a list of actions with a timescale
- implement them before the European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu in September 2007.
The production of energy should be as much as possible through renewables and as much as possible on a small scale and local basis.
Find out about European energy policy and production and engage with your politicians on these issues.
Churches are well placed to be generators of electricity through small scale renewables. Doing this will help you understand the value of energy and use it wisely. Sustainably generated energy will be for the benefit of the community.
Generate energy of your own, for example by solar heating, small hydro, biomass power, or a small wind turbine, keeping in mind the protection of nature.
Community level energy does not mean being blind to the rest of the world. We need always to remember that our everyday actions are directly affecting the whole of life:
- people in the 'majority world' – because justice demands that they enjoy God's gifts in equal measure to ourselves.
- nonhuman species and ecosystems – because life on the planet is loved by God and a blessing to us, not merely a resource to exploit.
- future generations – because we are causing irreparable damage to God's earth on which they will live.
After exploring the possibilities above, compensate for carbon you emit by giving money to a project for sustainable energy in the south.
We in the European Christian Environmental Network, challenge you, our churches, to take action in each of these four areas before the European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu in September 2007.
We invite you to write a short report or press release of what you have done in each area and then:
- tell us by emailing webeditorecen [dot] org
- tell your community through posters, events, newsletters, artwork
- tell your politicians and ask them to support your work by taking action through the local, national and European governments.
We hope that this paper will encourage and help you to take action on energy in your local church.
Lord, fill us with your energy to turn our ideas into love and our love into action for the benefit of others and the wellbeing of your creation. AMEN.
Information on energy issues, links to church initiatives, and ways to get involved, are on these web pages