‘A Future for All … Implementing the Christian imperative to care for our World’, held on Saturday 14 July 2018, was the first ecumenical Eco Church conference and was organised by the Central England Quaker Low Carbon Commitment forum and the Birmingham Anglican Climate Action group. It was attended by 100 Quakers, Anglicans, Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, URC and others at the Priory Rooms, the Quaker owned conference centre in Birmingham. In her introduction Anne Hollinghurst, Bishop of Aston emphasised how addressing climate change was moving from debate to action and that faith had a vital role to play in achieving the changes of hearts and minds needed. Bishop Anne reminded us of the Anglican Communion’s fifth mark of Mission is ‘To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth’. Then scientist and environmental theologian Bishop David Atkinson explained in his keynote presentation how in the burning of fossil fuels we have lost the biblical ‘triangle of relationship’ between God, the earth and humanity. Quakers in Britain recording clerk, Paul Parker, spoke about the climate injustices involved and the need to confront these truths and have faith that we can achieve change.
After coffee we first heard about St Peter’s Maney and Cotteridge Quakers’ Eco Church journeys. We then split into three workshops: the A Rocha Eco Church project, worship and teaching and, thirdly, a lively and popular community and global engagement workshop sharing action and initiatives being taken. The worship and teaching workshop included new Creation Tide resources for Anglican churches.
The lunch hour was an opportunity for conversation, network and enjoy food provided by the Priory Rooms as well as to visit the adjacent Peace Hub – Quaker Peace & Justice Centre.
In the afternoon we first all heard from Hope for the Future about how to engage with politicians and about environmental training workshops for Muslim Imams in Birmingham mosques. Then we split into five workshops around five main themes in the Eco Church project: Buildings and Land, Engaging with politicians led by Hope for the Future, Fossil fuel divestment, Interfaith experiences led by Footsteps – Faiths for a Low Carbon Future and, finally, a popular ‘life styles and living sustainability’ activitiy.
After a summing up by Rich Bee, A Rocha UK Engagement Director we closed with worship led by Claire Bowman and Bishop David Atkinson that blended the Anglican and Quaker traditions.
After the conference one of the Quakers present commented ‘we thought it was excellent with a mix of inspiring speakers, practical action and call to urgency’ and an Anglican said ‘I was delighted that the conference covered both the spiritual (why) and practical (how) aspects of the necessary changes’