Nations’ Climate Sunday Service at Glasgow
“Did you make it there?” friends asked me when I returned home to Settle on the Monday – having traveled to Glasgow on the Sunday
.Judith Allinson represented Green Christian at the Nations’ Climate Sunday Service at Glasgow on 5 Sept 2021: Here she gives a personal version of her adventures en route: Lots of people are making pilgrimages to Glasgow for COP26 (The International Climate meeting in November) .. This was Judith’s pilgrimage . The Service is now online here
“My pilgrimage however was 8 weeks early – to the Special “Climate Sunday Service” on 5th September at Glasgow Cathedral. The national project “Climate Sunday“, promoted by the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, had arranged a national service (actually called the “Nations’ Climate Sunday Service) to be shown on the internet on this day. I was scheduled to give a reading at the service on behalf of Green Christian (along with many other representatives of green and church organisations)
At 10.30am In the morning of 5 Sept I was in Settle – I was part of a team of four who led our church (Settle Methodist) in a special Climate Sunday Service. I had to get to Glasgow by 4pm for the national service, 150 miles north as the crow flies.
I gulped a cup of tea and scurried to the station with the intention of catching the 12.13 train to Carlisle, linking with another train on to Glasgow, ready for the 4pm service at Glasgow Cathedral – a tight schedule.
Would I make it?
To cut out part of your suspense –
Would I make it on time? –
No – This is British Rail/Britain’s railways, isn’t it?
I arrived at the station platform to discover the train would be 40 minutes late due to railworks not being completed on time somewhere in the midlands of England.
But I would still continue with my journey. I had booked accommodation at night; and I was looking forward to meeting some of the participants at a meal after the service.
(In reply to my question “Why can’t British trains be on time like they are on the continent?”, the helpful, long suffering station master explained it was due to Marples, road builder, who had privatised the railways many years ago, so that different sections did not work together, and then forced Beeching to close lots of lines.
I could now relax and enjoy my journey on the Scenic Settle Carlisle Line, knowing that now I had missed the 13 52 train at Carlisle, there would be ample time to catch the connection to the following train to Glasgow leaving an hour later. I ate the ice cream that the station master had enabled to buy at Settle station “Friends of Settle Carlisle Line” shop, and changed trains at Carlisle (time to photograph the steam train which was following my train from Settle).
I arrived at Glasgow at 16.16 and eventually located the diverted taxi-rank and the taxi driver googled his way to Glasgow Cathedral.
I donned my mask and crept into a stall at the back of the service at at the Choir stalls part of Glasgow Cathedral – 45 min late.
But .. the service then continued for another hour. I had plenty of time to look around.
The Choir stall area was so big – I thought I was in the whole cathedral at that time.- the area was very dark, with dark grey stone. there were big wide pillars holding up the roof – pillars as wide as those of Ripon Cathedral – but at the front were lovely very very tall narrow windows – This must be “Perpendicular architecture” I thought.
The lady who was speaking was African – from Zambia – Slowly I focussed my mind .. What follows are my words for what I remember she said.. (you can get the actual words from the video of the service here ) She is called Amanda and she is the CEO of Christian Aid: Amanda Khosi Mukwashi
“At COP26 a large number of people will not be represented:
In Africa only 2 percent of the population has been vaccinated.
Some people have been vaccinated with vaccine that the UK government does not recognise as being an official vaccine. People cannot afford to come and pay a UK hotel to spend 10 days or 2 weeks in quarantine. so most of Africa cannot be represented
It was highlighting two issues:
- The injustice of rich countries not supporting vaccines to be supplied in big enough quantities to African countries
- The unfairness, (? and stupidity?) that the discussions could take place with representatives of so many countries absent.
We reflected on this whilst the screen showed a Clarsach and Whistle Reflection : the Waves of Kilkee. played by Carissa Swan and John Allan. Lovely. I must learn to play that tune.#A choir at one side at the front, masked, sang hymns’songs at appropriate points.
A petition – The Time is Now petition asking to government to do certain things), and a list of the c1950 churches that have so far registered that they held a Climate Sunday Service or will shortly do so.. were ceremoniously handed over to two relatively young people from Focolare Youth, Scotland, ready to be presented to the UK government, Scottish government, Welsh government and Northern Ireland Executive.
Other important people and representatives gave readings. (The part I should have read (half of “A prayer for our Earth” by Pope Francis) had been much earlier in the service and was read by the lady who was scheduled to read the other half of the prayer. – Hannah Eves of the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) – she also works for A Rocha and for Climate Sunday.
Andy Atkins as Chair of the Climate Sunday Initiative gave thanks.
The choir and some of the congregation sang “Love Divine” through our masks and the dignitaries processed out.
We followed – into the main part of the cathedral. We were invited to sign the back of a painting that an artist has done asking the government “To put its skates on and act to prevent the climate emergency”. (My words)
We stood in front of the Cathedral for a photo shoot. I (far left) held up the flyer Green Christian has just produced about our “Faith Matters at COP26” visual presentation (online ppt/pdf)
We descended into a small room where we all took off our masks and crammed om one corner of it round a table where a selection of food nibbles and dips had been put out .
Covid regulations and spacing???
A distinguished couple from Edinburgh (Jim Wallis, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland) kindly gave me a lift to Sally Foster-Fulton’s House. Martin, another participant cycled the four miles there on his Brompton and arrived at exactly the same time as us. Sally works for Christian Aid. Her husband had prepared a wonderful meal. There were a dozen or so of us. We sat round and chatted. It was good to meet the other people. – including Andy Atkins and Hannah Eves of A Rocha, and Amanda Khosi Mukwashi of Christian Aid. It was fascinating listening to the discussions. Amanda said that the following night she would be at the Christian Aid Annual Lecture – featuring Das Gupta who chaired the Das Gupta Report and Rowan Williams. I made a note of this.
Sally took Amanda and me into Glasgow to our respective hotels, with a detour back to her house because I had left my camera on the settee. (DDDh. Thank you Sally for your patience.) Glasgow is built on a grid system and there is a set of traffic lights at every grid intersection. (This may explain the cyclist’s speed.)
The Alexander Thomson hotel was very close to the station. I had booked it using booking.com the previous day. The room was spacious. I enjoyed sitting in bed watching a program on Aljazeera TV about Sierra Leone – a lorry ride in the rainy season and a family making a living by breaking up stone –
Next morning I got up early and went for a walk by the Clyde.
The breakfast system worked well at the hotel. and within five minutes I was in the railway station – and within 3 and a half hours back in Settle.
The following evening found me watching Amanda chairing the ‘Poverty, Natural Capital and the Climate Crisis’ lecture given by economist Sir Partha Dasgupta, with Rowan Williams asking questions.
There were interesting points. Especially about how common land functioned and functions on a village/local level. And that our oceans are being plundered because no-one owns them so they are “Free” to plunder.
All the people asking questions were men. “Well done Amada for being a woman.” I thought. She had time in the talk to point out (again) how people from Africa will not be able to come to COP26 because they have not had access to vaccinations.
I hope videos both of the climate service and the Christian Aid Talk will be put online.
Reflections by David Coleman on the service
The following Sunday our team of four from Settle Methodist church had been invited to two other churches to run Climate Sunday Services. at two other Methodist Churches in our circuit – at Ingleton and at Hellifield.
I did a search online for Climate Sunday and found recordings of several other churches that have run such services – Well done everyone!. If you haven’t run one, do consider doing so!!
Previous: COP26 reflection from Andrew Norman
Comments on "Nations’ Climate Sunday Service at Glasgow"
Thanks for this Judith. I wondered at "our oceans are being plundered because no-one owns them so they are “Free” to plunder" I would want to caution us when thinking about the causes -it's a version of the 'tragedy of the commons' but the historical fuller truth, reflecting on that argument for private ownership (for that's what it turned into) of 'the commons' is that quite a lot of commons were managed very well, thank you, by stakeholders holding democratic means to administer their common heritage and being able to devise suitable punishments for freeloaders taking the mickey. That could be done.
Good stuff but I hope you'll forgive me referring to Monty Python's heretical (to some) Life of Brian. The People's poplar Frong of Judea (headed by John Cleese as "Reg") sit round a table and start with Reg saying "Right, the time for talking is over, we need action". Sure enough, the rest of the table start agreeing, spouting lengthy praise for why Reg is right but of course they don;t do anything. There are numerous actions which make perfect sense regardless of the nature, cause, extent and even direction of climate change (look upTambora's effects - the 1815 eruption caused temperatures to crash in 1816) but they need time money and effort up front e.g. restoring fish stocks, investing in poorer countries with rainforests so they can exploit them in situ, switching from intensive to regenerative agriculture, a broad commitment to conservation and fierce opposition to "make more money, buy more stuff". I suppose I have to let BBill gates off here as, although he's made the momey, he's trying to throw it at various probblems. David Rogers put in a good post a few weeks ago that the current hand-wringing is "pietistic bollocks" (sory, pardon the language) when it is hard cash adn effective action that are required. This means opening our own wallets, spending more time on useful actions (I've started growing more food and need to up my charity donations to Oxfam, Water Aid, Send A Cow and similar organisations but I'm aware that an economic system so moronic that it punishes food suppliers in times of plenty via price crashes needs major changes) and harassing politicians who are too spineless to court unpopular but necessary decisions. Sorry to be such a GOFF (Grumpy Old Fat F*rt) although I have lost weight recently.