As well as being of interest in and of themselves, the environmental views and actions of local church leaders are important because they have the potential to influence the communal lives of congregations and parishes and the lives of individual church attenders. The 2011 National Church Life Survey asked approximately 500 senior church leaders about their environmental views (concerning a diversity of ecotheological positions) and about their environmental actions. Overall, almost two thirds of leaders endorsed the view that caring for the Earth should be an essential part of the mission of the Church, however, there were strong differences between denominations.
Dominion theology, stewardship, the presence of God in nature, non-human Creation praising God, and the importance of Earth care for human wellbeing were all endorsed by a majority of leaders. However, leaders were ambivalent about whether the most important reason for Earth-care was human flourishing (anthropocentrism). When it came to their environmental actions, roughly a third of senior leaders often or sometimes preached about environmental issues, and a quarter did so occasionally, although there was a marked difference by denomination, with leaders from evangelical Protestant and Pentecostal churches least likely to preach on this topic.
Authors: Miriam Pepper, Ruth Powell
Pepper, M. & Powell, R. (2013) Senior local church leaders’ environmental views and actions. NCLS Research Occasional Paper 21. Sydney: NCLS Research.