No Christian Faith Without Concern for the Environment
P r a g u e – The struggle to protect the environment is an important component of the Christian faith. That is the conviction of Lina Andronoviene, Course Leader in Applied Theology at Prague’s International Baptist Theological Seminary (IBTS). The Lithuanian theologian reported to the European Baptist Press Service that IBTS therefore holds an annual “Environment Month”. She spoke positively of events during November, which IBTS has designated as its Environment Month: “The way that the challenge of environmental care has been met offers hope that things and thinking are beginning to change.” The Month consisted of both lectures and practical activities.
During the fourth week in November, which had the motto of “Sustainable Development in the Wider World”, students and staff donated 67,5 hours of extra work on campus to raise money for Christian Aid’s ‘Present Aid’. The seminary used the money gathered to purchase 80 ducks through ‘Present Aid’ for poor families in Bangladesh. Duck eggs and offspring can be eaten, sold or used for bartering at the market. The week having the motto of “Restoring Creation” involved cleaning up the area near to where the four goats on campus live. The “goat garden” was created as a place of quiet for all.
The Month included two guest lectures. Pastor Peter Pavlovic from the Brussels-based “European Christian Environmental Network” (ECEN) noted that an increasing number of Christian groups are becoming convinced of the need for environmental care. In his lectures, American Dr. Kip Redick from Christopher Newport University in Virginia drew parallels between the beauty of landscapes and spirituality. During this week, which had the motto of “New Life”, three new trees were planted in the campus orchard.
Environment Month is planned by the IBTS “Environment Management and Protection Team” (EMPTy) chaired by Andronoviene. She believes there is a strong connection between issues of ecology and poverty. Many East European Christians have a “poverty complex” affecting their behaviour and the behaviour of their congregations. Yet they are privileged when compared to those suffering in underdeveloped countries. The broader framework provided by the Environmental Month ensures that the IBTS community are challenged not to be preoccupied with caring for their own wellbeing only, but that they also pay attention to protecting the environment. This call to care was strongly proclaimed by the Old Testament prophets and by Jesus.