THE Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, has described the Climate Sunday initiative, launched this weekend by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, as a “brilliant resource” to help parishes reach the target of zero emissions by 2030 and campaign for more government action.
The Climate Sunday initiative was announced in June (News, 12 June) by a coalition of Churches and charities calling for more action on global warming. This Sunday, 6 September, is the first in a year in which individual churches are encouraged to choose their own Creation Sunday.
The object is for churches in Britain and Ireland to use climate-focused services to explore the link between theological and scientific reasons for looking after the environment. There is also a campaign for more action on the environment from the Government, and a challenge to congregations to commit to further action to halt climate change.
Spreading the initiative across the whole year is intended to make it accessible to every church calendar and tradition. More than 700 churches, from a range of denominations, have registered already.
The campaign will end with a national Climate Sunday event in Glasgow on 5 September 2021, to celebrate the commitments made by churches during the campaign.
Organisations involved include Christian Aid, Tearfund, CAFOD, the Salvation Army, A Rocha UK, Operation Noah, Climate Stewards, Eco-Congregation Scotland, Eco-Congregation Ireland, and Green Christian. The project has the backing of the Church of England, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Salvation Army, the Baptist Union of Wales, the United Reformed Church, the Church of Scotland, and the Church in Wales.
Bishop Holtam, who is the C of E’s lead bishop on the environment, said: “Although our focus has been shifted from climate change in recent months by the challenges of responding to Covid-19, the climate crisis has not gone away, and the driest May since records began is a timely reminder of this. Climate Sunday will be a brilliant resource to help Church of England parishes understand and respond to the climate crisis.
“As we work out the actions we need to take to cut our carbon emissions every year to reach net zero emissions by 2030, Climate Sunday will motivate, encourage, and inspire our churches to keep going on this journey.”
The chief executive of A Rocha UK, Andy Atkins, who also chairs the coalition, said: “With the climate crisis accelerating, and the UK due to host the COP26 climate talks in November 2021 in Glasgow, we believe the time has come for all churches across the UK to pray about and act on the climate crisis, as we have done in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our vision is to leave a lasting legacy of thousands of UK churches better equipped to address this critical issue as part of their normal discipleship and mission; and to make a very significant contribution to civil society efforts to secure adequate national and international action at the COP26 conference.”
Pope Francis also commented this week on how the pandemic should lead to a renewed focus on the environment, saying: “The health crisis that humanity is currently experiencing reminds us of our fragility. We understand to what extent we are linked to one another, part of a world we share, and that mistreating it can only have serious consequences, not only environmental, but also social and human.”