UK Churches at Loccum

Five British Christians are to attend the European conference about Christian Responsibility for the Environment which is being held at Loccum, near Hanover on October 27 to 31. It is organised by the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) and the Conference of European Churches.

The title of the conference is "Towards Sustainability in Europe.. Priorities and Responsibilities of the Churches." Translation will be provided in English, Russian and German.

"This is a big thing right across Europe which could have a major impact on church environmental work from Moscow to Manchester" says Dr Donald Bruce, of the Church of Scotland's Society Religion and Technology Project, and one of the conference organisers.

The vision for this ecumenical conference is to establish the priorities for the churches across Europe over the next few years in working together on environmental issues. Uniting the work done in many countries, the conference will explore many key themes of environmental concern, promoting sub-networks to address issues such as climate change, mobility, biotechnology, local church environment work and celebrating a "Day for Creation".

It will finish with a public conference on climate change, with speakers from many parts of the world.

The conference brings together people from official church environmental projects such as the Church of Scotland's Society Religion and Technology Project and the Eco-Congregation work of "Going for Green", and people who are employed by their churches with a special responsibility for dealing with environmental issues and also representatives from other organisations such as Christian Ecology Link, the British ecumenical voluntary organisation for Christians who are concerned about care of the environment

The five British delegates are: Dr Judith Allinson, Dr Donald Bruce, Ruth Conway, Rev Dr David Pickering and Jennifer Potter.

Dr Judith Allinson, a Methodist from Settle, N Yorkshire, will be attending on behalf of Christian Ecology Link (CEL), and is keen that Christians from over Britain should know that representatives from their churches are attending. She would also like to hear about environmental activities happening in churches throughout Britain and will publicise events on CEL’s website. (

Dr Donald Bruce, Director of the Society, Religion and Technology Project of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh is one of the conference organisers, who heads up sub-networks on Ecology and Economics and on Biotechnology and is webmaster of the ECEN Network.

Ruth Conway (Anglican and Methodist) is a founder member of VALIDATE (Values in Design & Technology Education). She has written a short book 'Choices at the Heart of Technology - a Christian perspective' to be published by Trinity Press International this Autumn. At the conference she will lead a workshop on environmental education examining the expectations, beliefs and commitments that could enable the life of the planet and its people to be sustained.

Rev Dr David Pickering is a URC minister who now works for the leading environmental campaigning charity " Going for Green" as the Churches Environmental Project Officer. He attended a similar conference last year and says

"Firstly, I found it a useful process to exchange both perspectives on the topics and information what is currently being done in the different countries. It has certainly helped me in my new role. Secondly, I am continuing to work with some of the members, mainly by e mail, but by phone as well."

Jennifer Potter, originally from Harrogate, but now in London, is the Secretary for International Affairs for the Methodist Church in the UK. She is busy preparing a statement for the UK Methodist Conference 2000 on "Caring for the Earth - the Methodist Church Commitment on the Environment"

Dr Allinson, who sometimes works as a botanist and sometimes as a teacher says:

‘When I showed some pupils this week at the secondary school where I am teaching a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust display about Wildlife Conservation in Churchyards, several students said "What has nature conservation got to do with Christianity?" After a moment of thought, another student replied "God created everything."

In my work as botanical grassland surveyor in North Yorkshire I recorded that well over 97% of our flower rich meadows are gone, due to agricultural improvement, even in areas such as the Yorkshire Dales. I have also worked briefly in West Africa and seen how little undisturbed vegetation is left there. It is sad we are spoiling so much of the diversity of God’s world.

Last Sunday morning, by chance, we sang at Settle, from F. Pratt Green’s hymn:

He reminds us every sunrise that the world is ours on lease;
For the sake of life tomorrow may our love for it increase…

(from hymn 404 Hymns and Psalms, the Methodist Hymn book)"