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Papanui
Christchurch 8053

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PO Box 931, Christchurch 8140

T. (03) 366 6049   I. 0800 266 639

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Green light for Garden City eco Christians

An ecumenical network of Christian ecologists is taking shape in Christchurch. While still in formation, the group consists of Methodists, Baptists, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Pentecostals and unaffiliated Christians who share an interest in actively protecting and nurturing creation.

The group had its genesis in a talk Methodist minister Rev Mark Gibson gave on April 1st, entitled “Fools’ Paradise?”. Since then it has met four times and grown steadily.

“We meet on the last Sunday of the month,” Mark says. “Our network now includes over 30 people and I would say we are growing rapidly. Most of the people come from churches we have not worked with before.”

Mark’s congregation is in Christchurch South and most of those attending are from the southern part of the city. Some come from other parts of the city to take part in it, however, and several live in Governor’s Bay.

At this point the group does not have a name, partly because it would like to affiliate itself with the New Zealand branch of the international Christian conservation group A Rocha.

“We are a very lively group of people with lots of energy. At our meetings we have done a lot of personal sharing about how we are involved in caring for planet. People are doing a wide variety of things.

“One member, Stephen Muir is an engineer who is really serious about bikes. He makes trailers for bikes. He even did a trial where he tested four bikes against four cars to measure the efficiency of doing the family shopping with bikes. The bikes were fastest.

“The people from Governor’s Bay are into reforestation on the Port Hills. They are helping put some land into a covenant and are they are trying to eliminate the plant pest Old Man’s Beard.

“Others in the network are in the Green Party, and are doing community action around that. One is standing for the Greens in the elections for Environment Canterbury, [the Canterbury Regional Council].”

As the clich? goes, the Christchurch group is looking both globally and locally. They are impressed with international Christian ecological network A Rocha and intend to become a branch of if. At the same time they are looking at ways to work together on a local project.

“We like the approach A Rocha is taking. Many of its leaders have scientific backgrounds and they seem to combine sound science with sound theology,” Mark says.

Several of those in the Christchurch group have joined people from Mark’s congregation who have been working with the rangers at Victoria Park in their native plant reforestation efforts at the Sign of the Bellbird in the Port Hills.

Nine members of the group recently held a meeting with the rangers to discuss joining pest control efforts. They intend to help monitor bait lines in order to eradicate possums and rats so that native birdlife – fern birds, tui, riflemen, and tomtits – can be reintroduced into the Port Hills.