The Anglican Diocese of Europe held a conference in Berne, Switzerland on 28 April 2018. John Payne represented Green Christian and its Joy in Enough programme and sent this report:
The day was attended by a diverse group of about 30 church members within Switzerland, including another speaker, Sarah French, the Director of Operations at A Rocha International, and a priest from the Old Catholic Church, based in Zurich. A representative from KOVI, a Swiss Responsible Business Initiative, was the other guest speaker. The conference had been put together and was presided over by Rev Elizabeth Bussmann-Morton, the Diocesan Environmental Officer, who helped the group to begin and end the day in prayer and worship, and who kept all the speakers admirably to time and focus. The Archdeacon of Switzerland was also present as a member of the group.
There was a fun element to the day (an environment quiz, and a delicious lunch, with some very good wine – albeit from Chile, which provoked some interesting discussion relating to Green Christian’s local food principles). But inevitably the main part of the day was more serious and thought-provoking. Sarah French talked about A Rocha’s conservation projects globally and also about EcoChurch, and she was joined as a presenter by one of the leaders of an EcoChurch audit undertaken by a local congregation, explaining her engagement in, and enthusiasm for, the process. The Swiss pastor and theologian from KOVI spoke passionately about the initiative to persuade big companies to sign up to a binding agreement on the environment, and the political advocacy undertaken.
I spoke about the aims and background of Joy in Enough; I gave the group some thoughts on Creation as Sacrament and Gift, the embeddedness of humanity in that Creation, the need for repentance and for living more simply, as well as some of the possible policy prescriptions involved. I spoke about recent work done on simplifying and unifying language about the Joy in Enough programme and what it seeks to achieve, and then introduced the group to the café conversation module on Consumerism. Six groups were formed, who worked very hard under some time pressure to absorb the material and bring their own experiences to bear on it.
All in all, it was a very interesting day, enabling me to meet new people, enjoy Christian fellowship in a different location and understand some different perspectives on critical issues facing us and the planet which is our common home. Thank you to Elizabeth Bussmann-Morton for inviting Green Christian to take part – Elizabeth’s feedback to me was that she had had “many very positive responses to the meeting and I believe your talk at the beginning set the stage perfectly for a different angle on our responsibilities in caring for creation! Those who got back to me thoroughly enjoyed the day and found lots of food for thought.”