St John the Baptist congregation in Pinetown registers as a SAFCEI Eco-Congregation
“From a small group of people who were lovers of the open spaces, grew a group of enthusiasts!” says Eco-Congregation Champion, Dot Saunders from St John the Baptist Anglican Church in Pinetown.
After four years of thoughtful, creative and spiritual work, St John the Baptist congregation in Pinetown has registered as a SAFCEI Eco-Congregation. The Rector, the Revd. Dr Andrew Warmback, and Dot Saunders, a stalwart environmentalist, have championed the process. “We have come a long way,” explained Dot at their Eco-congregation award ceremony in February. “From a small group of people who were lovers of the open spaces, we have grown into a group of enthusiasts!” It was a slow process because they knew that the programme would only flourish if it was owned by the whole congregation.
“We need to highlight the concept of ‘earthkeeping’ within our theology,” says Dr Warmback. “ We must recognise ourselves as part of the earth community and ensure that all have life in all its fullness. Humans have a mandate to preserve the earth and all Christians have a duty to promote wellbeing, restore degradation and to ensure that all living creatures flourish.”
He says that “At St Johns, we try to respond positively in our education programmes: the preaching, and the teaching aspects for Sunday school children, for youth, in confirmation preparation and adult education. We try to relate our message to the reality of the changing environment. We also try within our church property in its management, in our grounds, our use of water and paper to be responsible. We encourage our members in their own lifestyles to be frugal or at least exercise restraint. In our congregation which probably has a high carbon footprint so we promote personal responsibility but we also motivate people to look at broader structural economic issues and encourage them to advocate and lobby for change.”
St John the Baptist has a passionate core of people who meet regularly to discuss local and current environmental problems and to maintain the values of an Eco- Congregation. Underpinning their thoughts and actions is the principle that the earth and its resources are a gift from God and every generation must preserve and nurture the planet for the sake of our children’s children and beyond.