Dave Steel (1951-2006)
We would like to dedicate this book to the memory of our dear friend Dave Steel, one of the founders of Sage, Oxford’s Christian environmental group. Dave was a trained botanist, and a brilliant field naturalist- take a walk with him, and you had a walking encyclopaedia of birds, flowers, and insects, not to mention local history.
I (Martin) first met Dave in 1990, when we were both attending St. Aldate’s church in Oxford. Dave had the idea to bring together his passion for the natural world with his Christian faith. At the time this was considered a pretty radical thing to do- Christians just did not get involved in environmental issues. But Dave and his wife Caroline wanted to form a group to do just that, and Sage was born, originally St. Aldate’s Group for the Environment. The group flourished under Dave’s skilful leadership. In time Sage spilled out from St. Aldate’s to many churches all over the Oxford region, and we steadily built a network of Christians who were concerned for the environment – we now have several hundred people. Dave was always there, often taking a very unassuming role. Only three days before he was taken into hospital with his final illness, Dave was in our conservation work party at Boundary Brook Nature Reserve.
Things have changed very greatly since those early days back in 1990. Now it is quite common for archbishops, bishops and other church luminaries to make speeches about the environment, but Dave was well ahead of them all. Dave was a visionary, an inspiration, and a very humble man. His influence was far-reaching. We all loved him and miss him very greatly.
This book would almost certainly never have been written if Dave had not had the vision for Sage, and the vision for linking the environment and faith. We caught that vision, and hope you will too.