Celebrating biodiversity in a church service

Recently at St John and St Stephen’s Church in Reading we marked Environment Sunday with a service celebrating biodiversity, and followed the service with a cycle ride and picnic lunch beside the canal. Here is what we did in the service in case you would like to use the ideas in your own service:

  • The service began with an explanation of biodiversity, citing the vital roles of plankton and bees in the web of life. The theme was chosen because this is the UN International Year of Biodiversity – a crucial issue at a time when it is estimated that every six hours another species of plant, animal or micro-organism becomes extinct.
  • The first part of Adam and Eve’s story was read out from a beautifully illustrated children’s book by Jane Ray: The Garden of Eden. There followed reference to the valuable role of our own gardens in preserving biodiversity as well as bringing us closer to God. The congregation divided into groups to look at exhibits borrowed from Reading Museum – each was a case containing an animal that lives in an oak tree, ranging from squirrels and a jay to a stag beetle and many moths. The groups were invited to think about where their specimen belonged in the web of biodiversity and what it might reflect about its Creator.
  • At the confession the taking of forbidden fruit was compared with taking too much of the earth’s fruits today. Finally it was remembered that God has a habit of choosing those seemingly least fitted for God’s tasks, giving us hope that despite past form we humans can care for our planet: a meditation on Psalm 104 concluded with references to recent conservation successes. Meanwhile many of the children present had been fashioning wonderful creatures out of ‘magic maize’.

After coffee seventeen of the congregation set off for a ‘gentle and sociable’ cycle ride. Apparently several had not cycled for years and found this an encouragement to consider cycling more. They were joined for a picnic lunch by a similar number who had shared cars to reach them.

Could you use these ideas in a service about biodiversity – or do you have ideas and resources that could be included in such a service, share them in the comments section.

Joanna is a member of St John and St Stephen Church in Newtown, Reading. She blogs at http://greeningstjohns.blogspot.com/

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