The future of Planet Earth, and the challenge and hope presented by Christian tradition to those who care about it, will be explored at “Saying Yes To Life Environment Conference”, the Diocese of York’s online study day on the 9th October 2021 in the run-up to the United Nations 26th Climate conference, COP26.

Keynote speakers Dr Ruth Valerio (Global Advocacy and Influencing Director for Tearfund and formerly Churches and Theology Director for A Rocha UK, a Christian charity that works for the protection and restoration of the natural world) and Jo Chamberlain (National Environment Officer for the Church of England) will help shape the day for churches considering their contribution to the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.

The conference comes in response to a growing number of enquiries from churches seeking guidance on how to ‘become greener’, and a renewed interest among church congregations to learn more about what the Christian tradition teaches about ‘creation care’.

A choice of workshops completes the day – from advice on Electric Vehicles to an exploration of Food and Farming.

The Revd Johannes (Jan) Nobel, Green Ambassador of the Diocese of York, explains: “It is no coincidence that the very first and last chapters of the Christian Bible speak of a deep harmony between humanity and the earth. Adam, whose name means ‘made of soil, or earthling’, was tasked with tending the garden God had prepared for him. However, as we wake up to the stark facts of Climate Change, we realise we have acted carelessly, and have often ignored our responsibility of care. We fail to share the earth’s resources fairly, and we don’t shown due respect to the other species God intended to flourish alongside us.”

Bishop of Selby Dr John Thomson: “The human species carries a huge responsibility, especially at this time of Climate Change. This Conference will face us with our responsibilities and give us practical ways as church communities and individuals to respond positively to this challenge.”

“What gives me hope”, Jan Nobel remarks, “is that the final chapters of the Christian Scriptures speak of a restored harmony in creation. We know it is not too late. God loves this world, and he is ready to help and support us if we choose to do the right things.”

One of those ‘right things’ is the Church of England’s commitment to become Net Zero by 2030. “An ambitious task”, Bishop John Thomson confesses, “but we have a moral incentive to do our very best to reach the target and a road map showing how we can get there will be out next July.”

Dr Ruth Valerio is a foremost theologian, social activist and creation-care specialist; in 2020 her book ‘Saying Yes to Life’ - from which the conference takes its name – became the best-selling Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book ever.