On this rock
Andy Atkins, Chief Executive of the Christian environmental organisation A Rocha UK talks to Reform
Let’s start with that name, A Rocha. Where does it come from?
It means ‘the rock’ in Portuguese. A Rocha is now an international network of independent charities, operating on a joint covenant with common values. The original A Rocha was set up in Portugal in the early 1980s by a British couple, a vicar and his wife, Peter and Miranda Harris. It was a sort of Christian study centre for wildlife on the Algarve coast. It took the name of a local cliff, but I’m sure there was a double meaning – Christ the rock. It’s gone around the world as other people visited that site in Portugal and said, ‘We want one of those.’ A Rocha UK was set up in 2001.
What was the original vision?
Simply to help Christians who understood that we have a responsibility to look after the environment, training them up in how to do it, for example ringing birds to collect data on migration. It was marrying the belief that we are called to care for all of God’s creation with the latest science on how to do that.
The original A Rocha in Portugal was a residential community too, because they wanted to provide support for Christians who understood this calling, but felt isolated and lonely in their own churches. They also found that sometimes the secular environmental community thought it was a bit weird that Christians should care about this stuff. Now those days are long gone, thank God, in the UK. But in many other parts of the world, it, it remains that way…
This is an extract from an article published in the June 2023 edition of Reform