Take Action : Hope for the Future
Hope for the Future
Become Part of the Movement
In early September last year six Diocesan Environmental Officers from the Anglican dioceses of Yorkshire and the north-east, all part time, some very part time and some retired, were meeting in Leeds and wondering, rather disconsolately, what we could do about climate change. The spark came when we considered just three words – prayer, practice and politics.
Prayer. To say any campaign must be rooted in prayer is not just a cursory nod in God’s direction, but the recognition that we need to allow ourselves to be filled with a passionate love, not only of God, but also of God’s earth, and a deep longing in our hearts that we may have the imagination, the determination and the strength to preserve this wonderful, wounded and fragile earth.
Practice. There are many practical things that we can do which will not of themselves save the planet, but they can be acted prayers or sacraments of intent, giving greater authenticity to our message. This could be everything from conscientious recycling, to careful home insulation, to shopping locally and flying only when it is unavoidable. Such commitments are important but they are not enough. The third step is vital.
Politics. This is the step that so many Christians find so difficult but it is essential. It is governments who determine policy and set the framework within which we operate. But politicians often complain that not enough people really care about climate change and therefore they feel unable to take the decisive action that is needed. This campaign is to show that there are a lot of people who do care about climate change and it will effect how they vote in May 2015.
How are we are setting about it? We want to get at least 10, but preferably more, letters to every MP in the UK. This may sound an impossible task but let me tell you how we set about this in Sheffield diocese. We are fortunate that our Bishop, Steven Croft, has been very supportive and at the beginning of March he spoke about climate change at the diocesan synod, encouraged people to support the campaign and commissioned 12 Climate Ambassadors whom we had recruited to go and talk to churches to encourage them to take part in the campaign.
There are 14 constituencies in the diocese. We made a list of all the Anglican churches in each constituency. I went through the list with the Bishop and he suggested the churches which he thought would respond most readily. This meant that instead of having to think how we could contact 213 churches, we can probably do the job by contacting about 30. At the moment we are adding Baptist churches to the constituency/churches list and are looking forward to adding churches from other denominations which will make the job even more manageable. We are now getting invitations to go to churches to help them get their letters written and follow them up. We expect to cover all 14 constituencies especially as the other denominations become involved.
We are aware that the key to this is a committed person who will persuade their church (and possibly other churches) to have a Climate Write-in when members of the church write letters to their MP, generally after a service. At the first church where we did this in Sheffield, we got 70 letters written. Details about the letter and how to run a Climate Write-in are on our website http://www.hftf.org.uk
This is where members of the Christian Ecology Link could play an absolutely vital role. The success of the campaign depends on the support of people like you. If you would like to know more please contact us on hopeftf @ gmail.com or ring me on 0114 258 5248.
Back in September last year it seemed completely dotty to try and do this but support is building steadily. The support of CEL has been immensely important and is a source of great encouragement. We also have the support of Christian Aid, Tearfund, Operation Noah and the Shrinking the Footprint campaign with more on the way. We were much encouraged when Rowan Williams endorsed the campaign.
As the campaign has grown, we have realised that we need an administrator to manage it. We have found an excellent and committed person to work part-time but she needs paying. We have already had some generous help which has produced nearly £2,400 but we reckon we need about £5000 more to keep going till May 2015. If you can help, we will be most grateful. Please send cheques payable to: “St Mark’s PCC” to me, Michael Bayley, at 27 Meadowbank Avenue, Sheffield S7 1PB. (St Mark’s, of which I am a member, is kindly handling the Hope for the Future money.)