Church of England commends Creationtide resources
The Church of England’s Environmental Working Group is commending a set of liturgical resources to encourage churches who wish to celebrate and cherish God’s gift to humanity in creation.
The resources, put together by Canon Vicky Johnson of Ely Cathedral, will allow churches to take part in a Creationtide season, running from 1 September until 4 October every year. Creationtide is originally an Eastern Orthodox initiative but has now spread widely among Anglican, Roman Catholic and Protestant congregations, bringing Christians together to pray and work for the protection of the environment that sustains everyone.
Pope Francis gave a major boost to the profile of Creationtide when, speaking before nearly 2 million people at the World Youth Day in Krakow, he declared 1 September an annual ‘World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation’.
The Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury and the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment, said:
“These liturgical resources provide richly for churches celebrating Creationtide. This marks a shift in the Christian understanding of our relationship to creation under God. The consequences of teaching over recent centuries that humanity has been given domination over creation are clear in the complex environmental crisis we now face. It is important that Christians rediscover older traditions of a godly relationship of humanity to the wider created order.
“Creationtide is important ecumenically too. The concept was introduced by the Ecumenical Patriarch in 1989, and is spreading widely in Western Christianity. The Pope’s declaration of an annual day of prayer on 1 September will give the profile of Creationtide a significant boost. Creationtide, therefore, represents an important Orthodox contribution to the deepening of common Christian values across historic denominational divisions.”
Canon Vicky Johnson, Residentiary Canon at Ely Cathedral, added:
“For Christians, the earth does not belong to us – it belongs to God, and therefore deserves our respect and care. This is an ancient understanding – reading Psalm 24, for example, it is clear that it goes right back to the worship in the Temple in Jerusalem.
“The growing concern about creation and the environment has made the Church aware that it needs to garner its liturgical resources to give full expression to this in worship and prayer. The care of our environment, and attentiveness to the created order, are central to the Church’s mission, which calls us to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
“The resources include material that works in the context of both traditional Anglican liturgy and more informal worship, as well as material for all-age worship, and more general material for prayer, biblical study and reflection.”
The worship resources include:
Status of Liturgies:
- The material for Creation in Common Worship: Times and Seasons (2006), produced by the Liturgical Commission of the Church of England, has been commended for use by the House of Bishops. The Commission writes, in Times and Seasons, that “these services offer an opportunity to come with ‘proper humility before God as the source of all things, [to offer] gratitude for his goodness, and [pray for] responsibility in stewarding the resources of the earth”. (Times and Seasons, p.596).
- The Liturgical Commission expressed renewed support for services reflecting on Creation in 2014.
Examples of services, which Ely Cathedral holds and can be applied to churches across London.
- Special evening services praying for the environment, in song, silence and reflection, with prayer stations around your church.
- Animal Services welcomes all creatures great and small into churches after St Francis, literally encourages all creation to sing together in praise of God.
- A Harvest Festival, with a Harvest Supper and Festival Eucharist to appeal to all ages. Worshippers will be encouraged to think about food and sustainability, whilst supporting a local food bank. For Harvest, churches can be decked with wonderful displays giving insights into the reality of farming today and celebrating the wonder of creation.
Background to Creationtide
Creationtide is a concept introduced by the late Ecumenical Patriarch, Demetrios I, 1989. Since then, September 1 (chosen because it is the first day of the Orthodox ecclesiastical year) has been adopted as the start of Creationtide. This is the season, running to St Francis day on October 4 when churches and congregations are called to pay special attention to the responsibility of humanity for the Earth and for all that lives upon it. Its start and end dates reflect that it is a shared idea between Western and Eastern Christianity.
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland adopted the concept in 2008. In 2016, Pope Francis declared 1 September an annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creationtide. While its adoption was in part driven by the complex environmental crises the human race faces, Creationtide draws on much deeper roots in Scripture and in older Christian traditions of the relationship between God, humanity and the created order. The timing of Creationtide means it is an excellent way of rooting traditional harvest festivals in wider issues and firm theological ground.