Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

Live gently and enhance God’s creation in 2020

1st Jan 2020

New Year message from The Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford

When I’m having a bad day – or just as importantly, when I’m feeling a bit too pleased with myself – I say to myself that one day I will be my successors’ predecessor. I find this helps me put myself in perspective. It also helps me to pray that the decisions I take are not simply for the good of the diocese while I’m bishop, but will be for the benefit of future generations in East London and Essex. As I pray for our diocese on the eve of 2020, I also wonder what our world will look like when the Bishop of Chelmsford writes their New Year message in 2070 or 2120.

This past year has seen concern for the environment grow.

Where once we talked about sustainability, we now question whether the fundamentals of our present existence on this planet are sustainable at all. We now tend to talk about climate emergency not just climate change. As this emergency deepens, it is the poorest and most vulnerable who are suffering most.

In October, I took my staff team to the Franciscan Friary at Hilfield in Dorset to learn how a community of Christians can intentionally adapt their lives to not only reduce their environmental impact but also positively enhance their corner of creation. Please visit them yourself and learn from them. Their heat comes from biomass. Much of their power from solar. Their food is LOAF (local, organic, animal-friendly and fairly-traded). Their animals naturally tend their wildflower meadows and they generously work with their neighbours to create corridors to support natural habitats.
How would our attitude to God’s creation differ if we, like the Franciscans, had to draw our water from the ground directly beneath our feet? Would we discharge the waste and chemicals into the soil and drains that we currently do?

Please join me this year in seeking to live gently in the world and enhance God’s creation. You are your successors’ predecessor. In 2020 bless the inheritance that you bequeath them.

I wish you a peaceful, gentle and sustainable 2020.

Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford