The Shaping of a Christian Environmentalist
Clive W Ayre PhD – June 2009
I have been involved in Church work all my adult life; I was ordained in theMethodistChurchin 1967, and am now an active retired (recycled?) minister of theUnitingChurch. But as with many other people, for much of that time the environment did not figure largely in my thinking. I was, however, concerned about the integrity of the Church’s mission.
The catalyst for change came in 1988, when our son Ian indicated to us that his High School had decided to nominate him for the Lions Youth of the Year competition. Among other things, that involved the preparation and delivery of a speech on a subject of his choosing. So having been inspired by his geography teacher, Ian chose to speak about threats to the environment; it was a speech we were to hear a number of times as he proceeded through stages of the competition. For him it was to lead not only to a passion for the environment, but also to a postgraduate qualification in environmental education. Thus it was that through this process my own awareness of and concern about environmental issues received an important impetus.
In the early 1990’s I had the opportunity to build on that beginning through the completion of an MA on the theme, “Christ and Creation: Towards a Theology of Creation and Redemption in the Context of Ecological Crisis”. That work established some of the theological underpinnings of the issue, and demonstrated that the notions of creation and redemption must be held together.
I had the opportunity to build on that in 2006 with my PhD research called “An Approach to Ecological Mission in and through the Christian Community inAustralia”; this included the practical dimensions. Central to my argument is the conviction that creation care is a fundamental part of the Church’s mission and calling, and the basis for that is not just pragmatic, but primarily biblical and theological.
My goal is to enable congregations and individual Christians to take their place alongside others who are also concerned for the natural environment. My hope is for a broadly-based ecumenical group that might assist in this process, and that the possibilities of an inter-faith approach will also be explored. My ultimate hope (and motivation) is that our grandchildren and their generation will have a liveable, sustainable environment to inherit and enjoy.