Christian members of the Oxford diocese who are being baptized or confirmed will be urged to dedicate themselves to safeguarding the environment as outlined by the formal liturgy of the church and supported by the bishop of Oxford, Rt Rev Steven Croft. The attempt, which is viewed as the first of its kind in England, is the result of rising concerns regarding climate change and environmental issues among religious leaders. Christian activists have led several environment-related protests in the last few years. In 2022, over 500 leaders of churches urged the government via letter to end further fossil fuel developments. Moreover, the Oxford diocese intends to spend £10 million towards the enhancement of energy efficiencies of its vicarages in order to have net zero emissions by the year 2035.
The Guardian reports:
Christians being confirmed or baptised in the Oxford diocese will henceforth be asked to commit to protecting the environment as part of the church’s formal liturgy.
The addition to the ceremonies is supported by the Right Rev Steven Croft, bishop of Oxford, and asks people being baptised or confirmed to “strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the Earth”.
The move, thought to be the first of its kind in the country, comes amid growing concern about the climate and ecological crisis among religious leaders. Earlier this year, more than 500 church leaders signed a letter to the government calling for no new fossil fuel developments, and Christian activists have been at the forefront of many climate protests in recent years.
Steven, who is a member of the Lords select committee for the environment and climate change, said the church had a key moral and spiritual role to play in addressing the climate and ecological emergency.
“The target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is already slipping away from us,” he said. “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 addition to the liturgy comes as the Oxford diocese announces plans to spend £10m improving the energy efficiency of its vicarages in an effort to hit net zero emissions by 2035. It is one of 10 dioceses to have divested from fossil fuel companies, making commitments not to invest in coal, oil and gas in the future.
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