From now on Christians who want to be baptised or confirmed in the Anglican diocese of Oxford will be asked to commit to tackling climate change.
Specifically, they'll be asked to "strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the Earth".
Rt Rev Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford told Premier taking care of the environment should be part of Christian’s responsibility as a disciple of Christ.
“[It’s] very critical in our generation, more than any other generation before us, because of the twin acute challenges of climate change and the environmental catastrophe which is engulfing the earth. So it's a call to move that aspect of discipleship, which has always been part of Christian discipleship, into our consciousness in a deeper way.”
After someone has been baptised or confirmed, a bishop asks a series of questions about the person’s Christian life and discipleship. He or she is asked if they will be committed to prayer, serving others, and fighting against injustice, amongst other things.
Bishop Steven, who is a member of the Lords select committee for the environment and climate change, said he felt caring for the earth should be seen as a spiritual matter.
“Because of the environmental risks to the Earth at the present time, we need something in that series of promises about our commitment to environmental care. We have, as Anglicans, of Five Marks of Mission of the Anglican Communion, the fifth of which is about care for creation. And we simply lifted that fifth mark of mission, and put it into one of the questions so that the words have familiarity to Anglicans all across the world, and something we're promising to do.”
The Diocese of Oxford recently approved a £10 million expenditure on environmental works to improve the carbon footprint of vicarages and better care for its clergy. The investment is part of an ambitious plan by the diocese to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2035.
Listen to Premier's interview with Bishop Steven here: