Churches from across Cumbria came together last month for a conference on the Christian response to the mounting environmental challenges. CAfS was among the environmental organisations taking part in the Caring for Our Common Home event, at Keswick School on 2 February 2019.

Around 150 people attended the conference, which was a chance to reflect on why and how we should care for the Earth, our common home.

The possibility of a follow-up conference is in active discussion, after the success of this event, which was sponsored by ECiC and Engaging Theology in Cumbria.

“The event was excellent with some very thought-provoking and engaging speakers and a wide range of workshops to attend,” said Emma Greenshaw from CAfS. “It was fantastic to see a room full of people interested in protecting the Earth from the impacts of climate change. The involvement of students through Keswick School was a great way to engage with their generation and stimulate ideas.”

Here’s a brief overview of the day, from Churches Together in Cumbria’s March newsletter:

Keynote lectures started the morning and afternoon sessions. Professor Keith Ward spoke on ‘Deep Ecology: Creation and the Environment’ in which he discussed the relation between the concept of deep ecology and the Christian faith. Professor Peter Scott’s title was ‘Sharing Our Common Home?’ In his talk, he explored the perceived tension between the interests in life of people and the interests of other creatures and the planet itself. Can we share our common home, and how?

The keynote lectures were complemented by ten different workshops covering a wide variety of practical responses we can make to what we had heard from our keynote speakers. They included a Question Time style discussion with local MPs and other political leaders responding to questions from sixth-form students.

We learned about the Eco-Church scheme for accrediting environmental action in the local church and the Green Journey scheme pioneered in the Leeds Diocese to enable churches to reduce their carbon footprint and switch to more renewable energy sources. Mountain Pilgrims took the more energetic for a short walk to sample the exploration of the Holy in nature.

Other workshops presented the Pope’s Laudato Sí encyclical, the significance of Cumbria’s world heritage status, the role of wild processes in nature, the Biblical background to our relationship with the natural world and the work of Christian Aid to combat climate change.
Throughout the day, a market place was running. Stalls provided a variety of resources and opportunities for informal discussion with representatives of environmental bodies.