Good heavens! A green pledge in a baptism service

 In Education, News

Children are never too young to make promises to protect our green environment says Midlands green energy expert Ron Fox on hearing of a change to the church christening service. 

Baptisms and confirmations in the Diocese of Oxford, which includes 808 churches, will now add a question asking: “Will you strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the Earth?” 

Christians will be expected to reply “with God’s help, I will”, in what is thought to be the first environmentally-friendly amendment to the services in the Church of England. 

“It is a very unusual idea,” said Ron, of Noreus Ltd at Keele University, Staffordshire, “but I am all for encouraging everyone to play a part in helping save our planet.”

The Bishop of Oxford, the Right Rev Steven Croft, who is a member of the House of Lords select committee for the environment and climate change, said that in every service of baptism, confirmation and the renewal of baptismal promises there is a commission where the whole congregation promise to live out their everyday faith, but there is nothing about care for the environment. 

Bishop Steven said he warmly commended this question to be used in parishes and he encouraged teaching on this topic as part of preparation for baptism and confirmation. 

The decision has been welcomed by the environmental charity Greenpeace who called it a wise move. 

Already the Oxford diocese has also pledged £10 million to make its vicarages more energy efficient through installing insulation and preparing for heat pumps to be installed instead of gas boilers. 

Bishop Stephen said: “The target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is already slipping away from us. Society has only a limited time to act, but we should be in no doubt whatsoever that there is a strong and deep possibility of change if we act now.” 

The Church of England has pledged to meet net zero across its 16,000 churches with its ‘Routemap to net-zero carbon by 2030’, but doubts have been expressed over whether financially struggling parishes can afford eco-friendly alternatives to gas boilers. 

Practical measures suggested to achieve net zero include offering clergy an electric car leasing scheme and ensuring all new bishops’ and pool cars are electric. Church and cathedral staff will be encouraged to turn off lights and equipment when they are not needed.

Churches will be encouraged to switch to green electricity tariffs and to heat “people not buildings” through measures such as infra-red and under-pew heating and heated cushions for their congregations. Heating is estimated to make up 84 per cent of a typical church’s energy use. 

The “Routemap” will be debated by the church’s national assembly, the General Synod, at its next meeting in York this week.

For more information about how to make your church more environmentally friendly by using infra-red heating, call Ron on 0845 4746641.

Caption: A promising move – Christians will now make a green pledge at some baptism and christening services at a font.

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