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European Christian Environmental Network
Eight Christians from Britain and Ireland attended the European conference about Christian Responsibility for the Environment which was held at Loccum, near Hanover on October 27 to 31. It was organised by the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) and the Conference of European Churches. Circa 90 people attended from 24 different European countries.
The title of the conference was "Towards Sustainability in Europe.. Priorities and Responsibilities of the Churches." Translation was provided in English, Russian and German.
"This is a big thing right across Europe which could have a major impact on church environmental work from Moscow to Manchester" says Dr Donald Bruce, of the Church of Scotland's Society, Religion and Technology Project, and one of the conference organisers.
The vision for this ecumenical conference is to establish the priorities for the churches across Europe over the next few years in working together on environmental issues. Uniting the work done in many countries, the conference explored many key themes of environmental concern, promoting sub-networks to address issues such as climate change, mobility, biotechnology, local church environment work and celebrating a "Day for Creation".
It finished with a public conference on climate change, with speakers from many parts of the world.
The conference brought together people from official church environmental projects such as the Church of Scotland's Society Religion and Technology Project and the Eco-Congregation work of "Going for Green", and other people who are employed by their churches with a special responsibility for dealing with environmental issues and also representatives from other organisations such as Christian Ecology Link, the British ecumenical voluntary organisation for Christians who are concerned about care of the environment
The eight British delegates were: Elizabeth Aalen, Dr Judith Allinson, David Boyd, Dr Donald Bruce, Sr Denise Calder, Ruth Conway, Rev Dr David Pickering and Jennifer Potter.
Elizabeth Aalen is Education Advisor for the Bishops' Appeal, Church of Ireland Aid and Development Programme and lives in in County Wicklow, Republic of Ireland
Dr Judith Allinson, a Methodist from N Yorkshire, attended on behalf of Christian Ecology Link (CEL),
David Boyd is from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland in Newtownares, County Down, Northern Ireland and worked as an environmental officer.
Dr Donald Bruce, Director of the Society, Religion and Technology Project of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh is one of the conference organisers, who heads up sub-networks on Ecology and Economics and on Biotechnology and is webmaster of the ECEN Network. (www.ecen.org)
Sister Denise Calder, RSCJ is Secretary to the Environment Committee of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.
Ruth Conway (Anglican and Methodist) is a founder member of VALIDATE (Values in Design & Technology Education). She has written a short book 'Choices at the Heart of Technology - a Christian perspective' to be published by Trinity Press International this Autumn. At the conference she will led a workshop on environmental education examining the expectations, beliefs and commitments that could enable the life of the planet and its people to be sustained.
Rev Dr David Pickering is a URC minister who now works for the leading environmental campaigning charity "Going for Green" as the Churches Environmental Project Officer. He attended a similar conference last year and says "Firstly, I found it a useful process to exchange both perspectives on the topics and information what is currently being done in the different countries. It has certainly helped me in my new role. Secondly, I am continuing to work with some of the members, mainly by e mail, but by phone as well."
Jennifer Potter, originally from Harrogate, but now in London, is the Secretary for International Affairs for the Methodist Church in the UK. She is busy preparing a statement for the UK Methodist Conference 2000 on "Caring for the Earth - the Methodist Church Commitment on the Environment"