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Al Jazeera English documentary explores faith and climate

Bishop Olivia is seen on a film camera screen sitting in St Mary's Church wearing a purple cassock and smiling.The climate action work of the Church of England in the Thames Valley region features in an inspiring new documentary from Al Jazeera English.

With 85% of the world’s population belonging to a faith group, the earthrise series explores the role, power and commitment of faith, religion and spirituality in creating change for the environment and how these communities can work together on this common goal by taking action on climate change.

During a special service and interview filmed at St Mary’s Church, Wargrave, the Bishop of Reading and member of the Church of England Environmental Task Group, the Rt Revd Olivia Graham, shares her reflections on the role of the Church in climate action and the importance of creation care as part of Christian living:

“The environment and the climate are issues that link directly to our Christian faith. We have disrupted the ecological balance of all that God created on earth. We owe it to God, and to each other and to all the species we share the planet with, to restore the balance. As people of faith we have a responsibility to raise our voices for those who cannot. And we have a responsibility for our own actions and the example we set.”

“It is our calling, as disciples of Jesus Christ to live lives which are holy; to confess our sins of greed, apathy, indifference and selfishness; to change our ways; to uphold and work for justice for those who are suffering; to make amends. Love the Lord your God, Love your neighbour, Be good stewards of the earth and all that is in it. These are words that lie at the heart of our faith.”

St Mary’s is a Silver Eco Church and introduced a series of environmental actions to improve sustainability including a Let it Grow zone to rewild the churchyard, bat and bird boxes to promote biodiversity, and plastic-free catering. Mike Buckland, who leads the environmental action at St Mary’s Church, said:

“Churchyards have the potential to be full of wildlife and it is very easy to introduce a rewilded area. It also sets a great example to our local communities showing that we care about the environment and the importance of valuing creation in the Christian faith.”

Mike Buckland is scything long grass in the St Mary's churchyard, a man is kneeling with a large camera filming.The Al Jazeera English flagship award-winning environmental programme, earthrise, looks at environmental stories and solutions from around the world. The new three-part series explores the power of three global systems – law, economy and faith – to affect environmental change.

Watch the faith and climate episode, airing on Friday 21 April, and the full series on Al Jazeera English YouTube. Read Bishop Olivia’s sermon in our Autumn Pathways Issue.

Environmental action

The Diocese of Oxford has committed to environmental action in a number of ways. In March 2020, the Diocesan Synod declared a Climate Emergency and pledged to reach net zero target carbon emissions by 2035. The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft is a leading advocate of fossil fuel divestment with the diocese completing its divestment from fossil fuels in 2021.

The diocese has also committed to spending £10 million on environmental works to improve the carbon footprint of vicarages as part of its Net Zero Housing Strategy and completed construction of the new Berkshire Area Office in the top 10% of new buildings for sustainability in the UK.

The role of faith in creating change for the environment

Watch this short clip and tune in to Al Jazeera English for the full episode.


Page last updated: Sunday 23rd April 2023 11:59 AM
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