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John Ray Initiative (JRI)

Abstract Based at the University of Gloucestershire in England, the John Ray Initiative (JRI) is an educational charity working to inform and mobilize people about pressing environmental problems by combining scientific and Christian understandings. Believing that the Church has an important role to play in transforming individual and social attitudes and practices that affect the natural world, JRI encourages Christians to translate their faith into practical actions that protect and sustain God’s creation. JRI seeks to bring together scientists, educators, and Christian leaders to lay an ethical foundation for relating to nature in a responsible, caring fashion. Named after John Ray, a seventeenth century pioneer of plant and animal classification who celebrated the wisdom of God manifest in creation, JRI works to foster environmental appreciation, awareness, and responsibility from a Christian perspective. Through various projects, JRI provides information on key environmental issues, supports stewardship and sustainable agriculture initiatives, and promotes theological reflection on environmental issues. Often collaborating with other organizations, JRI offers lectures, workshops, conferences, and consultations on topics such as: globalization and the environment, climate change, ecological theology, sustainable agriculture, and celebrating Creation. Periodically JRI runs Introductory Seminars designed to introduce participants to a range of ecological issues viewed through a Christian perspective. Introductory Seminars have been held in London, Manchester, Coventry, and Cheltenham. The Agriculture and Theology Project (ATP) is a collaborative effort between JRI, the Agricultural Christian Fellowship, and the Church Mission Society. By developing and communicating a Christian perspective on farming, food, and the land in a global context, ATP aims to draw on the Christian tradition to promote sustainable agriculture, food security, and responsible land management. JRI’s most recent project, a certificate course in Christian Rural and Environmental Studies, is a joint venture between JRI, Christian Rural Concern, and Keele University. In addition to its website, JRI’s publications include an electronic newsletter (published two or three times yearly); printed and electronic briefings on a variety of topics pertaining to ecology, agriculture, climate change, and eco-theology; and periodic papers and essays. A volume entitled, The Care of Creation (Inter Varsity Press, 2000), was edited by Sam Berry, one of JRI's Directors.
Religion Christianity
Geographic Location United Kingdom
Duration of Project 1997–Present

Founded in 1997 by a number of environmental scientists who are also Christians, the John Ray Initiative held its first Introductory Seminars on how Christians should approach the environment the following year in Manchester and in London. In 1999, JRI held a conference in Oxford entitled “A Changing Environment—How do WE Change?”, introductory seminars in London and Cheltenham, and a theological discussion with prominent United Kingdom (UK) theologians and biblical scholars. It also established its headquarters in Cheltenham in 1999. The following year, JRI sponsored lectures on ecological theology, extended its Briefing Papers series, and held an introductory seminar in Bradford. 2001 consultations and conferences addressed issues such as: Business and Sustainable Development, Environmental Decision Making in a Technological Age, Global Warming, and Faith and Science exchange. In May of 2001, JRI entered a new phase of expansion and development with the appointment of Peter Carruthers as its first Executive Director. At the same time, JRI joined with the Church Mission Society and the Agricultural Christian Fellowship to become a partner in the Agriculture and Theology Project, which had been launched in the mid-1990s. In 2002, JRI held and co-sponsored conferences and workshops on globalization, sustainable development, climate change (in cooperation with the Au Sable Institute in the United States of America), the farm crisis, and ecological biblical interpretation. Along with Christian Rural Concern, JRI launched a new certificate course in Christian Rural and Environmental Studies in the spring of 2003. The certificate is granted through Keele University’s Centre for Continuing and Professional Education, and the course includes eight modules dealing with agriculture, ecology, economics, and Christianity.

Mission Statement The mission of the John Ray Initiative is “to promote responsible environmental stewardship in accordance with Christian principles and the wise use of science and technology. We aim both to inform and to challenge, to develop an understanding of the environment and the way in which human society interacts with it, and to stimulate action in pursuit of environmental protection and sustainable development—including action by decision-makers and leaders.”
Partner Organizations Agricultural Christian Fellowship
A Rocha
Arthur Rank Center
Au Sable Institute
Christian Ecology Link
Christians in Science
Church of Scotland Society Religion and Technology Project
Church Mission Society
Christian Rural Concern
Institute for Contemporary Christianity
Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources None Listed
Contact Information John Ray Initiative
QW212, Francis Close Hall
University of Gloucestershire
Swindon Road, Cheltenham GL50 4AZ
Ph:       012.4254.3580
Fax:     087.0132.3943
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Agriculture and Theology Project
Christian Rural and Environmental Studies course