London's Burning

London's Burning

LONDON'S BURNING: a reflection on environmental stewardship in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the UK and beyond

Catherine Boldeau, Development Education Officer, ADRA-UK

Tuesday, 19 July, 2022.

40 degrees +

The hottest day on record.

Many parts of England came to a standstill.  Schools were closed.  Rail services disrupted and the government recommendation was to stay at home and stay hydrated.  

In London over 40 homes and businesses were destroyed due to wildfires on grasslands from the extreme heat.  Part of the runway at London Luton Airport melted, the previous day, disrupting flights.  

The London Fire Brigade said that it was their busiest day since the Second World War after they received 2670 calls and responded to 1000 fire incidents.  We seem to be ill-equipped for this type of weather in the UK that researchers predicted that this heatwave could lead to almost 1000 deaths in England and Wales.  

While London 'burns', wildfires rage in Greece, Spain, and Italy, as they are subsiding in the southwest of France.  

Climate change is charged with being responsible for the erratic and unprecedented weather conditions across the globe as the world has warmed about 1.1 C since the Industrial Revolution.  It is predicted that temperatures will keep rising unless governments make drastic cuts to CO2 emissions.  

Climate change is an issue that can be divisive.  But how should we, as Seventh-day Adventist Christians in the UK, respond to the current climate debate?

Hayes and Hayes, deliberating on this topic state, "Because life on this planet will be destroyed at Christ's return, which Adventists and many other Christians believe to be imminent, some consider it futile to spend precious time and money attempting to preserve God's creation from human degradation. However, we know neither the day nor the hour when Jesus will return (Matthew 24:36), nor how much longer such resources can be exploited unsustainably. Furthermore, failing to protect God's creation clearly contradicts the biblical mandate to care for the environment. We take care of our own bodies and personal possessions, clean our homes, and water and mow our lawns, all of which will also be destroyed; likewise, we should take care of the environment at large—not just the small pieces of it in which we live—because it nurtures our bodies and supplies our personal possessions and abodes."

Environmental stewardship is our responsibility, and we should take this responsibility seriously.  In November 2021, ADRA-UK together with ADRA-Afro Region and the Scottish Mission launched the ASAP environmental stewardship initiative as a pilot project.  The partnership aims to reduce the carbon footprint of a national faith-based organisation, connect communities in the global north with communities in the global south to promote environmental stewardship, and create awareness and engagement around faith-based responsibility to the environment.

To date the project has created opportunities for tree-planting, litter-picking and raising awareness on good stewardship of the environment.  Speaking about the ASAP initiative at its launch last year, Michael Kruger, President of ADRA International stated, "The world needs urgent action, innovative solutions, and faithful stewards. The ASAP project taps into our strengths as Adventists in nature-based solutions to climate change. By improving local ecosystems, we can address challenges such as disaster risk, biodiversity loss, food security, water security, and human health. These solutions are being recognised as effective and cost-efficient, helping people adapt to climate change and building community resilience."

As Adventists, we believe that there will be a time when 'God will make all things new' (Revelation 21:5).  There will come a time when there will be no more wildfires, flash flooding and the temperature will remain constant.  Our world will no longer be blighted by the ravages of climate change, sin, and suffering.  

But while we look forward to this time, let us not simply sit back and fiddle while 'London burns', let's make every effort to be faithful stewards of the environment in which we live.  

How can you do this?

  1. Recycle, reuse, repurpose
  2. Live simply
  3. Care for natural world around you
  4. Walk or cycle instead of using the car (where possible)
  5. As a local church address the issue of environmental stewardship at board level and create an environmental stewardship plan
  6. Support ADRA's work with communities around the world whose livelihoods are affected by climate changes and who have been pushed into extreme poverty
  7. Pray that God will enable you to be a faithful environmental steward.  


[1] Hayes, F. E., and W. K. Hayes. 2013. What do Adventists have to say to the world about environmental stewardship? Contributed chapter in S. G. Dunbar, L. J. Gibson, and H. M. Rasi (eds.), Entrusted: Christians and Environmental Care, pp. 253-262. Mexico: Adventus - International University Publishers.