Climate Change, Faith and Rural Communities- now FREE to download

We are pleased to announce that our booklet Climate Change Faith and Rural Communities by Martin J. Hodson and Margot R. Hodson is now available as a FREE download. This attractive  40 page booklet is a product of  ATP, which is a joint project involving the John Ray Initiative (JRI), the Church Mission Society (CMS) and the Agricultural Christian Fellowship (ACF). The abstract is below. Print copies can be ordered from THE JOHN RAY INITIATIVE (JRI), Wotton House, Horton Road, Gloucester GL1 3PT, UK. Please make out cheques for individual copies to the John Ray Initiative for £3.50 (inc. P&P). For multiple copies or rates outside the UK please enquire at

Climate change is a major issue for this century with significant impact on the future of the countryside. The first part of this paper considers the expected impacts of climate change on rural communities in the UK and the contribution that these communities make to climate change. Climate change is complex and interacts with many other factors. One aspect is exposed through a consideration of the impact of Peak Oil. Having presented the interaction between physical, biological and human issues, the paper has at its heart a reflection on the cosmic nature of Christ (Colossians 1.15-20). The theological reflection explores the themes of interconnectedness and eschatological hope. An ethical analysis builds on the theology to develop a Christocentric model for holistic mission. The authors propose their model as a faith-based framework for responding to climate change within a UK rural context. The final part of the paper shows how engaged faith can have a major role in helping rural communities both mitigate and adapt to climate change. Practical examples lead on to discussion of the value of a faith based approach. The authors conclude that faith in the countryside for this century needs to be sustainable in its praxis and holistic in its mission. They recommend relocalisation of rural communities and call for the church to support community regeneration.

Giving to ATP

PoundSign1We have been asked how one might give money to support the work of the Agriculture and Theology Project (ATP). ATP is a joint project of the Church Mission Society (CMS), the Agricultural Christian Fellowship (ACF) and the John Ray Initiative (JRI). The Project took the decision that all of it’s financial affairs should be dealt with by JRI, and thus the ATP account runs as a sub-set of the JRI accounts. In accordance with standard financial procedures these accounts are audited every year. So if you would like to give a gift to ATP then you should follow the instructions at the JRI giving page If you decide to send a cheque to JRI, then do include a note to say that the gift should be earmarked for ATP. If you use the JRI PayPal account, then send an email to the JRI administrator, Lynda McKeown, at to let her know that your donation should go to ATP.

ATP at the Oxford Real Farming Conference

ATP took part today in the Oxford Real Farming Conference at the Turl Street Kitchen in Oxford. Christopher Jones and Glyn Evans led on the topic “Why are you farming?” with help from Peter Carruthers, John Martin and Martin Hodson. The room was packed to overflowing for a vigorous discussion. We are working on a more detailed report and will post that later!

Picture shows (left to right): Peter Carruthers, Christopher Jones, John Martin and Glyn Evans.

Progress or Problem? Responding to Genetically Modified Food and Crops- Redcliffe Conference

Progress or Problem? Responding to Genetically Modified Food and Crops (Saturday March 2nd 2013)

The idea is a simple one. Transfer desirable genes from a donor organism into a plant to improve the recipient’s resistance to disease or herbicides, productivity or nutritional properties. Through genetically modified (GM) crops our problems of food supply would be solved or at least alleviated. But simplicity can be deceptive, and the controversy over GM crops and food has many different areas of concern. Are we „playing God‟ by moving genes between organisms and manipulating creation to this degree? As Christians, what are the ethical and theological implications? Is there a risk to food safety and what are the potential environmental dangers? And could a small number of multinational companies create a stranglehold over the food chain? Will GM crops help the developing world or become another means by which the developed world maintains control?

The Redcliffe College/JRI Environment Day will explore these questions and more. The main sessions and seminars are led by experts in the field, including Joe N Perry (European Food Safety Authority),, and John Weaver of the John Ray Initiative,  and  Christopher Jones MBE and Martin Hodson from ATP. The venue is in Redcliffe College, Gloucester and the day runs from 9.15am to 4.30pm on Saturday March 2nd 2013 and costs £38 including refreshments and a two-course hot buffet lunch. Download BOOKING FORM


ATP is pleased to announce the publication of CULTIVATING UNDERSTANDING- THE GROWTH, SPREAD AND USES OF KNOWLEDGE WITHIN FARMING by Christopher Jones MBE and Dr Dan Taylor (ATP Briefing Paper No 3).

Knowledge is not morally neutral. The ways in which it is developed, shared and used can enrich relationships, enhance social capital, and enable the struggling, as well as contributing general material benefits. In England and Wales, in the 25 years after the Second World War, the closely linked experimental husbandry farms and advisory service built up a network of farm related research and knowledge sharing within trusting relationships. This under-girded the restoration of the fabric of British agriculture after the long slump from 1870 to 1938, together with a transformation in animal health and food supply. Universities fueled this with basic independent and objective research. Extension work, which introduced the growing of swamp rice to the then eastern region of Nigeria, provides another example of effective knowledge sharing from the same era.


ATP is pleased to announce the publication of  IT’S ALL CAUSED BY WILD BIRDS’- SOME REFLECTIONS ON AVIAN FLU AND SWINE FLU AND THE ROLE OF BIRDS AS SCAPEGOATS by Susan Atkinson (ATP Briefing Paper No 2).

For all of the great advances made in medical science over recent decades, there is little or no progress made on the eradication of one of the most common causes of illness, namely influenza, usually known as flu. It is an infectious disease that affects both mammals and birds and one which is constantly changing to new strains. While for most humans the symptoms of fever, sore throat, headaches etc. are very unpleasant but thankfully short lived, in more serious cases flu can lead to potentially fatal pneumonia. Often those particularly at risk of flu becoming a life threatening illness are the elderly, young children and those with serious underlying health problems. It is now routine for the elderly, in the UK, to be vaccinated against flu every year, which reduces the risk, but does not eradicate it. The risk to all is increased if a new strain of the flu virus becomes a global pandemic; that is an epidemic that spreads on a worldwide scale and infects a large proportion of the human population.

Report on IRCA Europe (June 2012)

Christopher Jones and Ann Wright recently attended the Conference of the European Network of the International Rural Church Association (IRCA Europe), Sibiu, Romania (June 6th–12th 2012). Here is their REPORT on what happened at the conference.

Around the world...

  • Globalisation and the sustainability of farmers, livestock-keepers, pastoralists and fragile habitats

    A new paper by John Hodges, Marc Foggin, Ruijun Long & Gongbu Zhaxi entitled “Globalisation and the sustainability of farmers, livestock-keepers, pastoralists and fragile habitats.” is now published in the journal Biodiversity. There is a FREE DOWNLOAD

  • Can Farming Provide a Solution to Climate Change?

    Farming is one of the few human activities that can pull CO2 from the atmosphere and store it safely. By David Biello

  • Bulletin of the Agricultural Christian Fellowship (December 2012)

    50th ACF Conference Edition of the ACF Conference Dec 12 Update (December 2012) is available to download. Lord Donald Curry looks at changes in farming in the last 50 years. Professor John Hodges reflects on changes in British Agriculture 1945 – 2012 - good and bad.

  • Agriculture and Climate Change

    Farming First summary of the issues around agriculture and climate change HERE

  • Hunger: The World’s Greatest Solvable Problem

    Nearly a billion people go to bed hungry every night. But what would it take to put a stop to this? At WFP, we believe hunger is the world’s greatest solvable problem. Read it all

  • American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB)

    ‎41% of growers disobey rules that are supposed to limit the development of Bt resistance. Makers of genetically modified seeds say more farmers evading EPA rules

  • Where GM crops were grown in 2011

    New data from the annual report by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotic Applications shows where farmers are growing GM crops around the world. GM crops around the world in 2011 – map

  • Gates Foundation has much to say on innovation in agriculture

    Read Bill Gates’ 2012 Annual Letter update on the Gates Foundation’s work in health, poverty, and education. 2012 Annual Letter From Bill Gates | Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

  • A second green revolution?

    With advances in a technique known as fast-track breeding, researchers are developing crops that can produce more and healthier food and can adapt and thrive as the climate shifts.

  • BASF pulls its GM research out of Europe.

    Crop science and Crop fiction: The biotechnology sector says that basf’s decision to remove plant science from europe sends an anti-science message to researchers.

  • Creation’s Own Inherent Value

    For the vast majority of history, human beings have exercised limited power over nature. With the advent of modern industry and globalization, however, this power has grown swiftly, often resulting in great environmental abuse. In Living with Other Creatures: Green Exegesis and Theology (Baylor University Press), Richard Bauckham writes for the church in this context, [...]

  • Museveni Discovers Bovine Economics

    After months during which Ugandans have endured endless bickering among their politicians about stolen elections – now finally, some potentially good news:The government is cooking up something exciting; in a move one might christen “cows for all,” it is planning to give six cows to every homestead. Read it all