I was delighted to be invited to the recent JRI day in Birmingham and to share in leading worship. Having never been to any JRI event previously, I was looking forward to exploring some of the key issues challenging our stewardship and relationship with the planet and informing our involvement in sustainability, which was the theme of the conference. While this is not a new arena of Christian discipleship for me, intentionally engaging with some experts who are also people of faith sounded like an excellent way to more fully reflect on my own active participation with other participants.
All of the keynote speakers provided clear and challenging presentations. I especially appreciated the structure of the day, focusing on the work of development agencies, science, and theological reflection. This provided a robust structure that gave us much to consider and reflect on. The workshops drilled down into more specific issues, and the plenary session at the end of the day brought all of the presenters to the front for some more serious Q&A.
One of the key elements of the day was the engagement with the recently agreed United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Most of the keynote speakers demonstrated how their own work was seeking to participate in these goals and what this might mean. The honesty of the presenters was also noteworthy, not seeking to offer a simplistic solution, but with integrity seeking to move from pessimism to real hope. It reminded me of the recent contribution by Tim Flannery in his book, Atmosphere of Hope.
The JRI and this annual conference is the kind of forum that will keep us informed, engaged and active as we seek to demonstrate our creation-care as an expression of our participation in the mission Dei. I intend to become more involved and would encourage other leaders to join in this movement for change.
Rev Dan Yarnell
The Fellowship of Churches of Christ in Great Britain and Ireland
Senior Lecturer, ForMission College