Creation and mission on the Pembrokeshire coast

Aenon Baptist church, Sandy Hill is a small fellowship of 13 members, that has met in its little hollow off an inlet of Milford Haven since 1812. But this rural congregation is now leading the way among Baptist churches in Wales for its commitment to creation stewardship, gaining a recent silver award from A Rocha UK, the Christian conservation charity. 

‘We had been focussing on the Bible’s teaching about creation anyway,’ explains Jon Brewer, the church’s minister, ‘using the annual Climate Sunday as an opportunity to look at verses like Psalm 24:1 which says that “the earth is the lord’s and everything in it”. And we are blessed not only to have a beautiful location in the Pembrokeshire national park, but to have members in the chapel like our deacon Mike, who has been so committed to our grounds for years. He’s used no weedkillers or pesticides there, so the place is just so rich in wildlife – crocuses and bluebells in spring, and a whole range of herbs. Really, it’s just become a sort of unofficial wildlife reserve.’ 

But then a few years ago it became evident that the fabric of the building needed repairs, and that turned out to be an unexpected opportunity to take stock. ‘We asked ourselves what we should do in order to be good stewards for future generations, and to hand on to them a space in this area that allowed a Baptist witness that was warm and ecologically friendly.’ 

They decided to invest in air-source heat pumps for warmth, and although planning permission was needed, the process was eventually successful and even provides a clean air flow in summer. Then there was the longstanding need for toilet facilities, and the obvious answer given the lack of plumbed in water was to put in an eco-loo in the converted stable building. 

Having done these things on their own initiative, some of the church members were delighted to meet Delyth, A Rocha UK’s Welsh representative, at summer 2022’s Momentum conference in Carmarthen. Things fell into place and the church swung behind the idea of fulfilling the final requirements needed to meet A Rocha’s standards. Delyth said: ‘I am delighted there is now another Silver awarded church here in Wales and the first Baptist one! It shows that not only are more churches beginning their journey to act on environmental issues, but that they are wanting to go deeper and further with taking practical action on caring for God’s earth. Aenon, Sandy Hill have worked hard to achieve this award. I very much hope that reading and hearing about what they have achieved and how they did it will inspire other Baptist churches to explore this vitally important issue of addressing the climate and nature emergencies.’ 

Jon is clear that the whole process has been a blessing to the church in its mission, rather than in any sense a distraction. ‘It has actually become a missional opportunity. In our rural community this is an important green space, and the way we have stewarded the place means people do come to sit in our garden, enjoy the flowers and so on. I think this is one of those things that speaks to people in the community well outside the church, and allows us to build bridges.’ 

For more information on the eco-church programme – visit: https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/ 

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Creation and mission on the Pembrokeshire coast

Aenon Baptist church, Sandy Hill is a small fellowship of 13 members, that has met in its little hollow off an inlet of Milford Haven since 1812. This rural congregation is now leading the way among Baptist churches in Wales for its commitment to creation stewardship…

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