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The Christian Footprint


How can we care for creation?



Is creation now hurting through our greed and neglect? Part of our role as stewards of God’s creation is to ensure that all people, now and in future generations, have access to clean water, healthy crops and abundance of natural resources provided by God’s bountiful creation. As Christians, we care for creation because it is God’s creation, not ours. With the need to learn how to live sustainably in all aspects of our lives, how can Christian's care for the environment?  

Making our church communities ecologically sustainable can be used to witness to members of the church as well as the wider community. Showing that not only loving our human neighbours but also our non-human friends is an integral part of our identity as disciples of Jesus. By acting in this way, we proclaim the gospel as much by our actions as by our words.  

For most congregations, the first widespread and practical push to make a difference came with the Styrofoam coffee cup ban. Congregations would churn through these cups in the tens of thousands. Many churches had a dedicated closet or pantry filled with large bags of these thick cups that kept everyone’s coffee hot. The problem was that they were not recyclable. Soon they began appearing as litter along roadsides and added the volume of landfills. The call went out for churches to set an example and ban them.   

The church’s environmental commitment was put to the test.   

Many feared that something of the warm fellowship after worship services would be lost as people gathered around with Styrofoam cups in hand. Slowly, the warmth that came from after service fellowship changed from Styrofoam cups to either washable or biodegradable cups. It was not, after all, the end of church life as we knew it but more an adjustment that became commonplace.  

The next big opportunity came with the call to install solar panels on our church roofs so that we did not add to the growing consumption of non-renewable fossil fuels. Many felt this would be impractical. Yet today, there are probably more churches with solar panels on their roofs than without. And those who have made the move like to rejoice at reports at their congregational meetings of no or minimal power bills. It seemed we were getting the knack for caring for the earth God created.  

With the government introducing legislation to ban single use plastics, it won’t be long before more changes are to be required in the church. Western Australia has led the charge with the ban on single use plastics. With South Australia introducing similar laws, it’s only a matter of time before this reaches the rest of the states. Australian Christian Resources (ACR) have begun the search to find ways for churches to reduce waste and substitute with recycled alternatives. The Biodegradable Communion Cup is the first product in their range of eco-friendly cups and cutlery. ACR hopes to make a difference in the environment and practice what the bible teaches through their commitment to sustainable development and environmentally aware practice.  

If developed countries are to make significant progress towards a low-carbon future, then serious self-reflection and community consensus are needed to transition to a different way of living in harmony with God’s good creation.  

During the pandemic, we have necessarily found other ways of living and working and worshipping, although we imagine these changes as temporary. As we transition out of pandemic restrictions, we need to convince each other that changing to a different long-term socio-economic model is just as necessary for global justice and intergenerational justice and to properly discharge our role as wise stewards of God’s creation.   

As Christians, we are uniquely equipped to live with the paradox of being simultaneously saints and sinners, or in the case of the climate crisis, being part of the problem while working towards a solution. Most of all, as Christians, we have the firm hope that our God will always be with us, encouraging us and comforting us in whatever crisis we face.  



Prof. Neil Bergmann 

Chair of Lutheran Earth Care, Australia & New Zealand.