Running Tenants of the King Online

Posted in: Blog

Many of us are turning to online activities at the moment as a way of staying connected to each other. If you would like to ‘meet’ virtually with others from your church then why not run an online Tenants of the King Bible Study? Read on for suggestions on how to run the bible study using a web-based conference calling platform called Zoom.

Setting up Zoom

Zoom is the online conferencing platform used by Operation Noah. There are other conferencing platforms out there you could consider, we just happen to use this one. At the moment Zoom is offering resources to help people get up to speed with using their facilities. You will need to set up an account, but can use it for free if you don’t mind having your conference in 40 minute sessions, as it times out after 40 minutes and everyone simply clicks the same link to meet up again.

How to run the course

1.Order your Tenants of the King Study Guides and videos

Order enough booklets and videos on usb stick for everyone, and deliver or post them to your group members. You are welcome to share one usb stick between different groups. However, you may want to order one usb per group, to save having to pass it round.

2. Keep it small

To ensure everyone has a chance to share their thoughts, aim for 10 or fewer people in the group, just as you would with a face-to-face group. If interest is high, form two or three groups that meet at different times, providing more alternatives for people with busy schedules.

3. Expect technical mishaps

Bad wifi-connectivity and poor sound quality are bound to happen. Expect them, and it won’t be so bad when they occur. Spend time before your first study checking everyone’s equipment and helping them learn how to use it. It often helps to be connected by Zoom, or whatever platform you are using, and telephone at the same time. People may need to purchase microphones, speakers or headsets. Perhaps there are a few people in your group who could help do this. Give yourself 30 mins in your first session to iron out technical issues and remind people how to use the platform.

4. How to run the session

Begin by ensuring everyone can see and hear each other. You may need to ask people to mute themselves when they are not speaking, or the host may need to mute people – politely tell people that this is what you are going to do for some, if not all, of the meeting. During the discussion sections you may want to ask people to use the ‘hand raising’ option so as to allow all to have a chance of speaking.

The leader, who might be a different group member each week, runs the session using the leaders’ notes. When the video is played, for Zoom, this can be shown using the sharing option, described here

5. Keep to time

Being online rather than in-person is more tiring. Keep the session to time – two lots of 40 minute sessions, if you are using the free version of Zoom, or two hours maximum. This may mean firm chairing, but your group will thank you! Perhaps offer to add on another 40 minutes session at the end for people who want to chat after the session is over.

6. Feedback

Finally, do let us know how you got on, with any suggestions for improvement of these tips!

How faith informs activism

Posted in: Blog

Jane Lavery is volunteering with Operation Noah as part of her university placement while she studies for an MA in Theology, Ecology and Ethics at the University of Roehampton. She is hoping that during her placement she will answer the question: to what extent does faith inform activism?

I have been aware of a palpable faith in places like Lourdes or Medjugorje where people’s belief in a transcendent God who will perform miracles is intense; however, I feel the faith of those involved in Operation Noah is of a different dimension. As Ruth Jarman, a member of the team, stated following her involvement in a protest: ‘Faith is a bit pointless unless it is lived. … In the face of the desecration of God’s good creation that is happening now … I cannot walk by. In the face of the mass starvation that will happen when temperatures rise … I cannot walk by.’ She quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer: ‘Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not find us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.’

Here is a lived faith that is prepared to stand up and be counted in the face of adversity; it may possibly be described as a form of martyrdom in the name of God’s love – and therefore what should be the love of the faithful – for all creation. It is possibly a belief that humans work alongside God as God performs miracles.

I am working with the Bright Now team, which is currently focused on helping churches disinvest from fossil fuels. One of the first tasks I was given was to read some of the literature they have produced: 

I found the first particularly fascinating; how the major oil companies are being disingenuous in their commitment to the Paris Agreement, although they first realised several decades ago the impact of global warming through burning fossil fuels.  I find it incredible that profit is considered more important than the lives of people, not to mention the polluting effect of their products on our beautiful world. It also concerns me that while many individuals are making great efforts to stop their personal reliance on fossil fuels, large international companies are not, and it is they who are the major polluters.

Another concern is the seeming lack of long-term plans to provide clean, green methods of transport across the globe. Although electric cars are becoming more accessible there are issues with the mining of lithium for the batteries and it would seem that there is little long-term co-ordinated strategy.

In Laudato Si, Pope Francis promulgates the need for ecological conversion.  But this is not just for individuals; in talking about the importance of technological and economic cooperation he says ‘environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations of costs and benefits’, (#190) and ‘A technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress’ (#194).  It is to be hoped that more extractive industries will come to understand the wisdom of these words.

Science and the Bible, part two

Posted in: Articles, Blog, Theology

In the second of a two-part blog, Operation Noah’s Chair, Rev Darrell D. Hannahconsiders the Bible and its relationship with science. Read part one.

The Bible must be approached on its own terms, not ours. That means, to choose just one of the more important implications, we must read the Bible remembering that it was written in a very different historical context from our own. When I was a PhD student, I remember a conversation I had with a member of my church. She had heard I was pursuing doctoral studies in the New Testament. She said something like, ‘You are just the man; I have always wondered about this.’ She picked up a Bible and turned to first chapter of Genesis and read to me,

And God said, ‘Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.’ So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault ‘sky’. (Genesis 1:6-8, NIV)

She then turned to me and asked, ‘what is this “vault”‘? I began to explain that the common view in the ancient near east held that the world consisted of three levels, a flat earth, surmounted by a dome, which was the sky, and subterranean sea, which led down to the underworld. A pained look came onto her face and she said, ‘But, it isn’t true!’ She knew that the world was a globe spinning in space. 

The Bible was not written in a historical vacuum. Nor did God, in a Star Trek manner, beam the authors of the various books of the Bible out of their historical context and into ours when they wrote. Rather, they wrote assuming their context – just as all human writers have since time immemorial. The author of Genesis had no conception of the world as a globe spinning in space as it revolves around the sun. He (it was probably a ‘he’) did understand that all things owe their existence to God and that God, unlike many of the ancient near eastern myths, did not find creation a struggle. God simply spoke and creation flowed into being. To compel our scientific understanding of the world into conformity with the ancient near eastern assumptions of the biblical authors is to take the Bible on our terms not on its. It reflects not so much a reverence for Scripture, but an unwillingness to let go of our presuppositions and to appreciate the difference between the biblical world and our own.

Finally, the Bible makes clear in a number of places (e.g., Ps 8; 19; 104; Romans 1:18-23) that creation itself reveals to us something of the majesty and character of God. Theologians refer to this as ‘general revelation’, as opposed to the specific revelation contained in the Scriptures and, above all, in the Person of Christ. General revelation can never reveal as much to us of God as does the Bible and Jesus. Nonetheless, the Bible takes seriously the idea that creation reflects the beauty and faithfulness and wisdom of its Creator. As a masterpiece of the Supreme Artist, it bears, as it were, his signature. Science, as the study of creation, witnesses to this Artist by investigating his masterpiece. To refuse to see in scientists – and climate scientists – prophets of our age is to deny this central biblical doctrine. 

Darrell is the rector of All Saints parish church, Ascot Heath. An American, Darrell moved to the UK in 1992 to pursue a doctorate at the University of Cambridge, in Christian Origins, and has lived here ever since. He moved into full-time parish ministry, in 2008, after academic posts at the universities of Sheffield, Birmingham and Oxford. 

Read part one

Want to learn more? Tenants of the King is a Bible-based, Jesus-centred small group study resource from Operation Noah. It is designed to help you and your church consider what the Bible has to say about today’s climate crisis.

Science and the Bible, part one

Posted in: Articles, Blog, Theology

In the first of a two-part blog, Operation Noah’s Chair, Rev Darrell D. Hannah, considers the Bible and its relationship with science.

Operation Noah’s concise theological statement Climate Change and the Purposes of God (CCPG) likens climate scientists to Israel’s prophets who spoke uncomfortable and disturbing truths which the Old Testament kingdoms of Israel and Judah did not welcome. The framers of CCPG and the rest of us at ON manifestly place a high premium on science. After all, our strapline is: Faith-motivated. Science-informed. Hope-inspired. There are, however, some Christians who remain deeply suspicious of science. For them, modern science is the implacable enemy of faith. Especially in the United States – but not just there – one encounters the idea among certain Christians that beginning with the theory of evolution modern science made a decisively wrong turn in direction. Such Christians not only reject human and animal evolution, but the consensus among geologists concerning the age of the earth, the consensus among geneticists concerning the age and shared ancestry of humans and much else besides (Why creationism bears all the hallmarks of a conspiracy theory).

It is not surprising that among such Christians, concern for the environment tends to be negligible at best. Having dismissed the evidence for evolution as error inspired by Satan, there is little reason to pay attention to the scientific consensus for the current climate crisis. 

While I am not a scientist and not competent to comment on any scientific consensus or theory, I have no doubt that the root of the problem lies not so much with science but with the view of the Bible embraced by such Christians. Wishing to take the Bible seriously and to stand with it – even if that means standing against the rest of the world – when modern science and the Bible are presented as being in opposition, they naturally choose the Bible: science must be wrong. 

Having dedicated most of my adult life to the study of the Bible, I am convinced such Christians do not take the Bible too seriously. Rather, they do not take it seriously enough. For example, Christians who dismiss evolution and climate change tend to read all the different books of the Bible in the same way. A moment’s reflection will show how mistaken an approach this is. We don’t read a book of history the same way we read a collection of poetry; we read a Mills & Boon novel with different presuppositions and expectations than a biography of a major historical figure or even a science fiction novel. In the same way, to read the Psalms just as one reads the historical books of Samuel and Kings would not reflect a serious engagement with the Bible, but instead a superficial approach. Or to read the Gospels or the apocalyptic books, Daniel and Revelation, with the same expectations that one reads the erotic poem that is the Song of Songs (or Solomon), would only lead to serious misunderstanding.

When paying attention to the clues in the text of the different books of the Bible, and even to different portions within those books, it becomes clear that the Bible contains a number of different genres. Nowhere among the various writings that make up the Bible do we encounter a work of ancient science – to say nothing of modern science! More importantly, if we give careful attention of the text of Genesis, it is clear that its first eleven chapters differ in genre from the rest of the book. While in Genesis 12–50 we may be dealing with a kind of family history, in Genesis 1–11 we are dealing with something more like saga or myth (understanding the term ‘myth’ not as a lie, but as a story by which the ancients made sense of and interpreted their world). To read the creation story or the account of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden as scientific or historical accounts is to ignore clues the text of Genesis gives as to how they should be read.

Darrell is the rector of All Saints parish church, Ascot Heath. An American, Darrell moved to the UK in 1992 to pursue a doctorate at the University of Cambridge, in Christian Origins, and has lived here ever since. He moved into full-time parish ministry, in 2008, after academic posts at the universities of Sheffield, Birmingham and Oxford. 

Read part two

Want to learn more? Tenants of the King is a Bible-based, Jesus-centred small group study resource from Operation Noah. It is designed to help you and your church consider what the Bible has to say about today’s climate crisis.

Talking to our Church Leaders about the Climate Crisis

Posted in: Blog, Church resources
Resource type:
Date posted: 11 February 2021

Operation Noah board member, Rachie Ross, recently spoke to church leaders in her local area about how they could best tackle the climate crisis. Watch her talk here.

Operation Noah has board members available to talk to your church or church leaders. Get in touch to find out more.

Climate Emergency Toolkit Launched

Posted in: Blog
Resource type:
Date posted: 28 January 2021

Operation Noah is excited to see the launch of a new Climate Emergency Toolkit for churches and Christian organistations from Tearfund.

As the climate crisis accelerates, millions of lives are at risk. We’re aware of this, but sometimes it can be hard to know what to do next to tackle the climate crisis. The new Climate Emergency Toolkit from Tearfund encourages churches to declare a climate emergency and maximise their impact by influencing others around them to take the climate emergency seriously.

The toolkit provides a roadmap for action and brings together lots of brilliant resources from a range of organisations, including Operation Noah, organising them into a clear, manageable journey that any church can take.  What better way to kickstart your creation care in 2021?

Catherine DeSouza, Pastor at Cardiff City Church, speaking about the toolkit said: ‘Climate change wasn’t high up on my agenda…What kicked me into action was recognising that I have a role, we have a role,the church has a role to play in this and we can do something about it.’

Dr Tim Gordon, Marine biologist and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Exeter said: ‘Climate change directly threatens the lives of millions of people. If your church is serious about loving people, it has to be serious about climate change.’ 

In November 2021, world leaders will gather in Glasgow for COP26, critical talks on how to address the climate emergency. Each church that declares or recognises the emergency shines a spotlight on the crisis, underlining its seriousness and the need for world leaders to agree to significant progress during the talks. Together, we can be a prophetic voice for change.

Download the toolkit

Operation Noah in 2021

Posted in: Blog, Featured, Uncategorized

We’ve made it to 2021! We’re still living in a time of great uncertainty, but we also have hope. In November, leaders from across the world will meet in Glasgow for COP26 and have the opportunity to take the urgent action we need to tackle the climate crisis. Before that, in June, the G7 will meet in Cornwall to discuss a number of issues, including the climate crisis.

Operation Noah’s work this year aims to make sure that our leaders make the most of these opportunities. So what’s coming up at Operation Noah in 2021 and how can you get involved?

Climate Sunday

In the lead-up to COP26 we’re encouraging all churches to hold a Climate Sunday service. This is an opportunity to hold a service exploring the theological and scientific basis of creation care, to commit as a local church to take action, and to call on other churches and wider society to push our government to take bold action in advance of COP26. 

Tenants of the King update

Last year, churches and individuals bought more than 600 copies of our four-session Bible study resource in the lead-up to Lent. This study series is designed to help you and your church consider what the Bible has to say about the climate crisis. We’re currently working on an update to the final session of the study and it will be ready in time for Lent 2021. We’re also going to make all the resources you need for the study downloadable, so you don’t have to wait for us to post them out to you (although the postable version will still be available if you’d prefer it). Lent begins on Wednesday 17 February, so start making plans now to be sure you’re ready to run Tenants of the King in your church. If you’d like the updated version please ensure you are signed up for our monthly newsletters to be informed when it is available.

Global divestment announcements

Divesting from fossils fuels is powerful both as a practical and prophetic step as we approach COP26. It takes money away from the fossil fuel industry while also moving us towards the future we want to live in. In the last few years dozens of churches and Christian organisations across the UK, and many more across the world, have committed to divest from fossil fuels. As part of our Bright Now campaign, we’re planning at least two Global Divestment Announcements this year, likely to be in May and early autumn. If your church would like to make a divestment commitment as part of these announcements, please get in touch.

Climate Emergency Toolkit

We’re encouraging churches to make use of this great resource from Tearfund which helps churches to declare a Climate Emergency and then take simple but powerful actions that have an impact beyond your own walls or community. This is a great way to show leadership on the climate crisis in the lead-up to COP26. We’d love to hear from anyone who makes use of it.

Pray and Fast for the Climate

Prayer fuels our action to care for creation. Why not join in with Pray and Fast for the Climate this year. Operation Noah was involved in setting up this initiative and it provides prayer points every month to help guide your prayers.

Show the Love prayers

Green Christian has a number of prayers especially written for The Climate Coalition’s Show the Love campaign in February. Why not choose one to be read at your church’s service on Sunday 14 February?

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