The Bishop of Winchester has called on Christians from churches across Hampshire and East Dorset to plant trees during the next 40 days of Lent, and to continue afterwards. The commitment is part of the Diocese of Winchester’s Lent campaign to do more to care for God’s creation.
The Bishop is calling for people across the Diocese to plant a variety of trees to contribute to carbon retention and to further the Church of England’s ambition to reach ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2030.
Lent is the six week period between Ash Wednesday (which calls on February 26th this year) and Easter Sunday (April 12th), and is traditionally a time for fasting or giving something up so that we become more aware of our dependence on God. This year, the Archbishop of Canterbury wants Lent to be a time for Christians to rebuild their relationship with the planet. The #LiveLent campaign is inspired by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2020 book, ‘Saying Yes to Life’, in which theologian Dr Ruth Valerio explores what it means to be made in God’s image and entrusted with the care for God’s creation.
So Bishop Tim is first asking us all to consider our personal lifestyle choices and how we can better care for the environment in our everyday lives, perhaps by looking at our diet, avoiding single-use plastics, or switching to renewable energy. Secondly, the Bishop is calling for churches in the Diocese to take on pioneering projects involving the whole congregation and the local community. Finally, Bishop Tim hopes that everyone in the Diocese will do some tree-planting, either in their own garden or through sponsored global projects. This is something all Christians can do: a prophetic action that makes a difference.
The Right Reverend Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, said:
“Lent is a time to reflect on our own lives and our relationship with the gifts God has given us. As Christians, we have a collective responsibility to care for God’s creation. We have been given a remarkable world and protecting it for future generations is an integral part of loving our neighbours and following God faithfully. By planting trees, we are contributing to a better and healthier world, and I hope many people will join me in working for real change for our environment.”
This year’s Church of England Lent campaign follows the growing movement of churches seeking to care more effectively for the earth. Last year the Diocese of Winchester was awarded the A RochaEco Diocese Bronze award, which recognised the Diocese’s commitments to sustainability and the steps it has taken to ‘go green’. The Diocese is now working towards the Silver award.