Eco-Church: just what we need to solve life’s problems in Lambeth

St Mary at Lambeth, next door to Lambeth Palace (red brick)

For the latest lunacy emanating from the Church of England, look no further than this.  In today’s Times, the following headline announces:

‘Eco church St Mary-at-Lambeth seeks shepherd and flock’

Yes, you did read that correctly.  An old church (see old painting, above) close to the heart of our government and on the doorstep of the ArchMuppet of Canterbury, is to be ‘re-opened’ for ‘worship’ after being abandoned in the 1970s. 

What exactly defines a ‘fully dedicated “eco church”’ remains to be seen.  I think I can imagine.  ‘Services will focus on the environment and climate change’.  Well folks, I am sure that will pack ‘em in on a Sunday evening. 

The website of the Garden Museum (its current name) tells us that in 1062, Goda, the sister of King Edward the Confessor, had a wooden church constructed on the site, followed by a stone church later in the century.  This became the church of the Archbishops, with their London lodgings being built next door (the current Lambeth Palace).  The church was rebuilt in 1337, undergoing further repairs in 1834–35 but otherwise the tower that visitors can still climb up is original to the 12th Century.  

Great – things like this make me proud to be (mainly) English.  And we can be sure that during that 900 years of history, God’s Word was proclaimed and His love demonstrated from within that church.  But wait!  Whatever happened to this fabulous building?  In 1972 it was abandoned (why?) and after renovation and the addition of new add-ons, it has been the Garden Museum since 1977.  Well at least that saved the building. 

So how exactly is it to be reopened for worship?

‘A new congregation will now be formed to worship in the building outside the museum’s opening hours, using a garden room separate from the main body of the church’.

Ah, right.  Outside opening hours and not actually in the church itself.  And worship?  For that we must read ‘to hold services and host events focusing on the “climate emergency”.’  Amazing.  We are further told that:

‘The new congregation at St Mary’s will be the first set up with a core mission to focus on environmental issues as part of its worship and activities’.

Call me dumb, but I always thought the Church’s core mission was to proclaim the gospel and focus on the people God brings into it through actual, er, mission.  Now, apparently, we have a new core mission that involves ‘environmental issues’ and the ‘climate emergency’.  As far as I understand it, that is political activity, not mission. I’m keen to understand on which elements of the Bible and of the guidance of the Holy Spirit this new core mission is based.  Anyone have any ideas? 

‘The congregation will be drawn from local residents in the Lambeth area with an interest in the environment’.

Are we seeking local residents who may have an interest in things spiritual, or just things environmental? 

‘There are plans for services to be held on Sunday evenings that will build environmental issues into their prayers and sermons with the Archbishop of Canterbury expected to attend on occasion’.

Yipee!  I bet that will add to the spiritual atmosphere. 

‘Will Cookson, director of pioneering ministry for the Diocese of Southwark, said that Lambeth Palace was keen to have an “ecologically focused congregation” next door and that the message of protecting God’s creation could be found “all the way through the Bible”’.

That’s great, Will.  Perhaps you could just point us to the verses that stipulate an eco-focused church instead of a God-focused church?  All of this supposes, of course, that existing congregations up and down the country are doing little or nothing to protect the environment.  But that’s another article.

‘He said that he could imagine worshippers joining climate protest marches and said: “We are so excited by this opportunity and, in partnership with the Garden Museum and Lambeth Palace, being able to input into this crucial area in the life of our country and the world.”’

Dear Lord.  Input what, exactly? 

‘There are also plans to invite corporate chief executives and religious leaders for talks about the environment’.

And this, dear reader, is no-doubt the true ‘mission’ underpinning this bonkers idea.  The new ‘Church of the Environment and Climate Emergency’ is really being put together to act as a base for the Church of England’s latest box-ticking wheeze – ‘a special focus on environmental issues and the fifth mark of mission* and social justice’.  St Mary must be spinning in her grave.

* The Church of England abides by five “marks of mission”. The fifth, added in 1990, calls on Christians to “safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the Earth”.

So there it is folks. The latest exercise in virtue-signalling and Trendy-Think oozing from the minds of our Pastors as they plumb the shallows of leadership, guiding what is left of the Church, at hurtling speed, into extinction. 

‘A job advert looking for a priest to lead the new “St Mary’s Eco Church” states: “With human activity impacting the world and especially with the climate emergency in mind we are looking for an innovator who can help to plant a new church with a special focus on environmental issues and the fifth mark of mission and social justice.”’

Enough said.    

‘The Rev Chris Russell, an adviser to the Most Rev Justin Welby, said …… that he hoped that the church would “stimulate conversations” beyond its congregation about environmental issues’. 

Well yes, it will definitely stimulate conversations, Rev Chris.  But probably not the ones you want to hear. And those who like all this woke flummery will probably have little or no interest in the Church at all.

It may also interest the ArchMuppet and his pals to know that Admiral William Bligh, captain of the famous HMS Bounty, is buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s.  He’s the unfortunate captain who, in 1789, was cast adrift by his mutineering crew into the South Pacific with 18 loyal seamen and officers in a small boat.  By use of his brilliant seamanship, he brought them all across 3500 miles of ocean to safety in what is now Indonesia. 

If that is not a metaphor for what we are seeing in the C of E today, I don’t know what is.  This eco-church lunacy is nothing less than a mutiny against the traditional role and nature of the Church of England.  But the leadership of this mutiny is not to be found among the dissatisfied crew of the ship, but among the ‘leaders’ of HMS Church of England.  And the poor folks being cast adrift in a small boat are the ones who still want to stick to the core mission of the Church and to worship God in Spirit and in Truth. 

I have no doubt whatsoever that those cast adrift by these characters will indeed find a true spiritual home elsewhere.  But as HMS Church of England sails on into the inevitable sunset, the mutineers would do well to consider that the Utopia of Pitcairn Island did not end happily.  Their ship was burned and most of them ended up dead before too long. So much for the mutiny. While most of those who were cast-adrift went on to lead long and productive lives. 

Just sayin’. 

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