How should my Church respond to the Climate and Creation Emergency?
One of our members was recently asked by her church to ‘tell them what they should do’ in response to the climate situation. These are our suggestions.
Basics – first steps
1. Find other people so you aren’t alone – people who love you or love Creation – preferably both. Even just one friend is better than nothing!
2. Get some time to sock it to ’em on the dire situation we are in and why people who believe it is God’s world need to speak and live prophetically. If you don’t have enough time at the first meeting, ask them to arrange a special evening for you to present and ask your church leader to say it is mandatory for your Church Council and perhaps invite others.
3. Register for Eco Church
4. Hand out some of our Eco-check-up for Churches leaflets, to get people involved in thinking about what you could do, and perhaps even feel motivated by what you are already doing! Order some leaflets.
5. Show commitment to the cause by joining Green Christian as a Church
6. Start praying regularly for Creation. Green Christian’s monthly Prayer Guide is a great resource for intercessory prayers for individuals and at church services
You could now simply work through the excellent Eco Church framework. While you do this, we would recommend you consider focusing on the following:
Stuff really worth doing
1. Commit to going net zero on carbon emissions (measure, reduce, switch to green energy and offset with climate stewards). Go for before 2030 to lead the way and respond appropriately to the UK’s historical leadership in climate breakdown. Some churches, e.g. the Church of England, have already committed to do this so this should be a job of the PCC and you should only need to remind them why they are doing it and help them along the way.
2. Suggest to your house groups, or set up a small group, to use Green Christian’s new Plenty! six week course which can be run both online and in person. This is a great starting point to get people thinking about more than just changing light bulbs.
3. Provide pastoral support for the climate and ecological emergency.
In Green Christian we think the climate and ecological emergency is probably the greatest pastoral challenge the churches have ever faced. Borrowed Time offers safe spaces to explore and share our responses within the context of faith. We have programmes and resources for individuals and groups, and for ministers and others in leadership roles.
Tearfund and others, including Green Christian, have put together a step-by-step Climate Emergency Toolkit to speak prophetically at this time
‘This bill brings honesty and responsibility back into climate legislation.‘ Caroline Lucas
There are so many campaigns out there. This one encompasses climate, nature, trade, agriculture and really tells the truth about the Climate and Ecological Emergency and how the UK should respond.
Green Christian is proud to have co-founded Operation Noah in 2004, which is now leading the faith divestment movement in the UK. Even if your church has no investments the Church Council can still commit not to invest.
The latest resource from ECCR’s Money Makes Change programme – an Ethical Buying Guide for churches – equips churches to take practical steps with their spending to shape a fairer, more sustainable world.
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Comments on "How should my Church respond to the Climate and Creation Emergency?"
Hi Ruth, A tricky one as the clear suggestion of parting with time, effort and money while accepting some impact on our own living standards (e.g. not regarding Black Friday as a good thing, despite the urge to look for bargains) is rarely well-received. Many of us (including myself on bad days) would like an answer to what is the one simple (i.e. easy) thing I can do to make a difference. Perhaps having a hard, honest and accurate look at our own impacts instead of trying to slope shoulders onto others is an option because it isn't just the obvious problems like fossil fuel use and factory farming. Environmentalists used to reckon that 3-4 fully used planets would be needed for us all to have well-off Western lifestyles. A more recent estimate was 11 (!) quoted by Prof Gordon Marshall of the Leverhulme Trust in a speech at Exeter University in late 2019 for well-off US lifestyles and jobs to afford them. It struck me as high but then it probably didn't include the need for rehoming climate refugees. Who takes a billion Indians if that country becomes largely uninhabitable, for example? Underlying all this is a problem with economic policies which assume there is no upper limit on individual human wants, a point I remember form my first A Level Economics lesson in late 1972. Yet you can't have everything where would you put it (deadpan US comic Steve Wright) while the loo roll panics early in the pandemic show how unlikely most of us are to look at the bigger picture instead of looking after no. 1. Sadly this isn't helping but maybe the societal and personal benefits of less waste and futile activity are an option, coupled with realizing we can make careful and even profitable use of the natural world (see Gabe Brown's work in North Dakota for example) rather than looting it or optimistically trying to keep (other) people out of large areas. The need to provide better and affordable housing for many in England (population density 430 people per sq km) shows that assuming more food in less space guaranteeing more room for wildlife may be very optimistic. I hope there are one or two stray useful items in there, though. Iain
Actually, Ruth, I think that you do make it clear that greater-than-lifestyle tweaks are needed -especially in the terms of Iain's 'time, effort and hard cash' I'm trying to think in terms of other systemic efforts, that effect changes in how whole systems of provision work -but widespread divestment would begin to do that...
Hi Iain, totally with you. This is why I wrote this blog - it was meant to emphasise other-than-lifestyle tweaks. Can I make this clearer?
I agree that what Iain characterised as lifestyle tweaks are -in my words- a drop in the ocean. We shouldn't underestimate their value as consolidating acceptance that there is an issue to address and that we need to respond. Part of the follow up then needs to be to help people to 'be the change they would see in the world' and to continue to revise their/our responses. I would also say that it becomes easier to help people to understand the need for systemic change when the proportion of individual efforts to the challenge starts to become clear. At that point we need to help people with facing things like despair, anxiety etc (hence Ruth's mention of Borrowed Time is important).
Two things I would emphasise are that lifestyle "tweaks" are unlikely to be enough (time, effort and hard cash are needed plus a willingness to accept some impact on our lifestyles) while there are assorted traps for the unwary as seemingly obvious ideas may misfire badly. Please see the following on food security which I put on the climate coalition website: https://climatecoalition.org/future-food-security-must-focus-on-supplies/