A Rocha UK is 20. Where do we go next?

27 January 2021
Comments 5
Category Comment, FrontPage, News
27 January 2021, Comments 5

These are bleak times. We live not just with a global pandemic, but accelerating climate change and species loss. Is there hope? And can A Rocha UK realistically make a difference?

The answer is a resounding ‘yes’ to both – if we have confidence in what we know, humility about what we don’t, openness to work with others, and the faith to go where we believe God is pointing us. 

A Rocha UK was founded twenty years ago as a local Christian conservation project in a deprived and multi-ethnic area of Southall, west London. That work goes on, based at our Wolf Fields reserve. But who would have dreamed that A Rocha UK would now be leading a fast growing network of Christian organisations committed to managing their land for nature, with Partners in Action in all four UK nations? Or that we would be facilitating an Eco Church movement of more than 3,100 local churches in England and Wales, learning how to care for creation in all they do. Or that we would be hosting an ‘online community’ – the phrase hadn’t even been invented 20 years ago – of ‘Wild Christians’ caring for nature. Of course, there have been hard times and setbacks too. But we are amazed at where God has led, and often carried, us. 

But we also grieve, as we believe God grieves, for the loss of species; and we long for a stable climate and clean oceans unpolluted with plastic. It is his creation, after all. And we are not blind to the immense challenges ahead if  humanity is to halt and even reverse this damage. Time is extremely short to avoid runaway climate change or mass extinction of species. The UK itself is one of the most nature-poor countries in Europe while the pandemic has exposed how vital access to nature is for mental health – as well as how unevenly this is distributed between the poor and better off in the UK. And scientists are warning that we should expect more pandemics of ‘animal’ viruses unless we restore animal habitats.

So, where is our hope? In a faithful loving God, yes. And in seeds we believe he has planted and will grow. For example: In the UK a fast-growing number of churches, denominations and networks now recognise the importance of caring for creation in the whole mission of the church. With more than 50,000 worshipping communities in the UK – with all our buildings, land, people, prayer etc –  Christians and churches have truly colossal potential to make and demonstrate change in every corner of the land.

There is much greater willingness than previously for Christian organisations to collaborate with secular and those of other faiths, around the environment, offering a way to build community and defuse conflict in the process. There is much greater public awareness of the need for urgent action to prevent environmental disaster, and the younger generation – the future leaders – are demanding it. 

So what do we believe God requires of A Rocha UK in the critical decade ahead?  Firstly, to hold true to our mission: To equip Christians to protect and restore the environment – for God, nature and all people. Secondly to invite all Christians and churches to join us in helping bring about a bold vision of change which we can summarise as:  

  • Land for nature: We want to see land owned by denominations and networks, Christian organisations and Christian individuals being managed for nature.
  • Christians for nature: We want to see local churches and Christians engaged in deliberate and on-going action to protect nature and address climate change practically and by using their voice to speak up for change.
  • Nature for All:  We want to see the general public actively benefiting from access to nature on land owned or managed by UK churches, Christian organisations and individuals.

To achieve this we will need to work in new ways. And we will need many more people to join us with their time, prayer, voice and support. But if this vision is from Him, we believe God will provide.

Please pray for staff, trustees and volunteers as we refine practical plans to advance this vision.

Image by Albert Butcher: Kingfishers at A Rocha UK’s Foxearth Meadows Nature Reserve

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5 responses on “A Rocha UK is 20. Where do we go next?

  1. Colin Abbiss says:

    We do have hope as different organisations are working together more, although often the initiative seems to come from Christians. Our Green Britain Centre here in Swaffham has now been closed for two and a half years and has now been sold to ‘an International manufacturing company’ who may be involved in renewable energy. However research has continued and shows quite clearly the direct connection of temperature rise with CO2 emissions since the launch of the steam engine in 1800. The worldwide rise of epidemics also shows a similar exponential rise with almost exact;y the same origin in time, as we tropicalise our earth! So If there ever is to be the hope of life with ‘normal’ stable conditions the most urgent matter is indeed to decarbonise our atmosphere. The Climate Repair Centre at Cambridge University aims to do just that. The West Acre Estate a few miles north of us is rewilding 250 thousand acres. as are other areas in East Anglia in the WildEast project. Getting the carbon back into the soil seems one of the most effective methods of removing atmospheric carbon. Another link has been with Epicam of Cambridge whose cryogenic air powered rotary engine ran in our garage for the first time at Easter. It is part of the ‘Liquid Air Battery’ project and has great hope of providing CO2 free power and even drawing down to safe atmospheric levels again. Biochar is another hope that is being explored. If every one of us removed a kilo of CO2 a day our Earth would respond within a month of levels being reduced! There are many other encouraging factors but the key seems to be to get the motivation out to the public and our politicians. Much prayer needed.

  2. laurence wells says:

    A wonderful, awe inspiring and engaging vision for true Climate Action. Thank you.

  3. Alyson Laydon says:

    I’ve long had issues with A Rocha being a London-centric organisation, but I understand there are historical reasons and know there have been attempts to increase the range so to speak. I will try to place info on Eco church on Sunderland Connect’s newsletter (inter-church organisation) and hope there is interest. Keep up the good work.

    • Jennifer says:

      Dear Alyson, many apologies but our celebration service is online and I have now updated the article to make this clear. Apologies for the confusion and hope many more of you can make it now. Best wishes, Jen

  4. Dear bpartners its geeat to see your actions about save the land and gods work to be done on this earth as soon as we do more people will get benifit of it in the name of jesuischrist…Amen…

    united in GODS work