Caring for Creation
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” – Psalm 24:1
As Church Army, we understand the importance of taking care of the earth. We believe that God has called us, the Church, to be stewards of His creation. From God’s mandate in Genesis 2:15 to “work” and “take care” of the garden of Eden, to the declaration of David in Psalm 24:1 that, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it”, it is clear that God intends for us to care for creation, from loving people to preserving the birds and animals, trees and oceans.
As a charity that loves God and loves people, we also have the opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to caring for creation by helping people everywhere encounter God’s love and transforming communities through the work we do. So, as World Earth Day 2023 approaches (Saturday 22 April), we are taking this week to look at some of the ways that our Centres of Mission Evangelists are using community gardens and nature to bring some green life to inner city urban areas, to be enjoyed by everyone and to bring people together in community.
North Belfast Centre of Mission
“The community garden is situated on a piece of land in North Belfast, owned by the Methodist Church. It had been neglected for around 30 years and was covered in overgrowth, broken glass and rubbish. The Center of Mission embarked on a mission to secure access to this space for the purpose of reaching out to the local community, particularly men, who can be difficult to engage.
In late 2018, permission was granted, and volunteers from both the church and the surrounding area began clearing away the debris and restoring the land. During the first
lockdown, it provided an excellent opportunity for people to meet up in a safe, Covid-friendly environment, following restrictions at the time. Despite some interruption due to changing rules, work continued with teams of dedicated volunteers.
Since 22 February 2021, we have partnered with Probation Board, who send a team twice weekly to fulfil their hours of community service. This has been invaluable in light of all that needs doing at the site. The garden has also created opportunities to share faith stories with these men, many of whom have opened up about difficulties they are facing and how much they value coming here as a way to clear their minds. With its mature trees and mountain views, there’s something quite special about just being present in this environment while working alongside others in a supportive atmosphere – not forgetting lunchtime sausages cooked over an open fire! This positive experience
has even led on to starting a men’s group, which meets weekly beside the church for
deeper conversations about life, faith and everything else!”
Scunthorpe Centre of Mission
“Four years ago, I had a vision to create something special – Mossy Church. Our mission was to explore faith through nature and conservation. We decided to do this every first and third Saturday of the month in two locations. On each visit, we take people on guided tours around our wild areas, which cover about a quarter of an acre. We use themes to explore conservation activities that people can relate to, and we help them reflect on their faith along the way.
One of our most ambitious projects was building a living wall around our Riddings wild area at Holy Spirit Church. This wall not only serves as a beautiful piece of art but also encourages local community members to plant seeds, plants and bulbs – creating memories for generations. In true eco-friendly fashion, we used sods dug out by Community Payback so that no materials were wasted. The results have been amazing, providing habitats for bees, moths and other critters! We also created a pond in the same way, using waste materials, and are currently building a greenhouse made out of empty pop bottles.”
Prayers in Focus
- Pray for the men who complete their community service at the garden in Belfast to encounter God for themselves.
- Pray that more local people would get involved in the Belfast Centre of Mission garden.
- Pray for the Mossy Church initiative in the Scunthorpe Centre of Mission to develop and flourish.
- Pray that the people involved in the Scunthorpe Centre of Mission will feel equipped to share their love and care for creation with others.