Hope in a Changing Climate Conference 15-16 April 2016
This 2-day conference was held in Coventry, with around 100 delegates from Christian organisations such as Christian Aid, Operation Noah, Tearfund, A Rocha, the C of E, URC and Green Christian. It was organised by a coalition of churches and agencies under the banner of EDWC – the Ecumenical World Development Conference http://www.ewdc.uk/
Peter Grimwood and Deborah Tomkins attended on Saturday, and ran a Green Christian stall together with Operation Noah.
“I found this meeting to be a fruitful experience and I came away from it with a renewed sense of encouragement and empowerment towards the issue of a Christian response to Climate Change.
The most useful speaker from my point of view was George Marshall who demonstrated in his presentation and in his workshop the kind of language we need to use and perhaps even more importantly the kind of language we ought to avoid. We must avoid statistics and disaster narratives and try to frame our message using frames and codes that emphasise shared values and inclusive identities.
Another good speaker was Jo Herbert Youth and Emerging Generation Co-ordinator at TEARFUND who emphasised the role of story. We live within God’s covenant and our journey is a journey with Him. God passionately cares about His whole creation and we have a special responsibility to live our lives unto HIM.
She spoke with warmth and enthusiasm about her personal journey from a relatively narrow faith which focused exclusively on her personal relationship with Jesus to an understanding of that relationship which understands that Jesus came to restore all things and that in Him all things were created in heaven and on earth. We must learn to speak to those things that motivate our audience and offer them the means to participate in the making of prophetic signs. I have to say that she would be an excellent speaker for the Way of Life Group.
I also enjoyed Jo Musker-Sherwood on the subject of lobbying MPs. We need to work with them rather than confront them and establish with them a creative rapport so that our meetings and exchanges of correspondence don’t simply become a dialogue of the deaf.”
“Delegates were encouraged to go away with two actions that they pledged to try to undertake. Inspired by George Marshall’s talk on communication, I resolved to try and meet people where they are and to use their own language to communicate with them. George says that the language of fear, and the language of facts and figures, don’t really work for most people. What does work is identifying shared values using these as a starting point.
A similar point was made by Jo Herbert, who works with young people. She also says that Climate Change is a deeply theological issue – we must engage deeply with theology; we have a Biblical command to care for creation and for the poor. Our every action can be a spiritual act.
Other speakers over the two days included Ruth Valerio from A Rocha, Professor Michael Northcott, and Bishop Graham Usher. Many others gave workshops.
It was great that Green Christian was able to be there – some other members also attended – and to raise our profile among Christian agencies and churches. We took with us several hundred leaflets (Storm of Hope, LOAF, Churches in Transition, Eco-Checkup for Churches, and Nine Ways) which were all distributed among delegates. Many had never heard of Green Christian (or Christian Ecology Link), so we were very pleased to make connections.”