Faith and Climate Change

In our day to day life we are keenly aware of the damage we are causing to our planet by climate change. As Christians, we should be asking how issues relating to the topics of climate change and climate justice link to our faith. Churches in the deanery are responding in many different ways.

Climate Sunday

The Climate Sunday initiative is calling on all local churches across the UK to hold a climate-focused service on any Sunday before COP26 (November 2021). 

During their local Climate Sunday, churches are invited to do one or more of three things:
Worship: Hold a climate-focused service, to explore the theological and scientific basis of creation care and action on climate, to pray, and to commit to action.
Commit: Make a commitment as a local church community to taking long term action to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions.
Speak up: Use your voice to tell politicians that you want a cleaner, greener, fairer future at the heart of plans to rebuild a strong economy. The culmination of the campaign will be a national Climate Sunday event on Sunday 5th September 2021, to share church commitments and pray for bold action and courageous leadership at COP26.

Click here for more details.

St Richard’s, Ham,  and and Holy Trinity, Richmond have both held Climate Sunday services. St Anne’s, Kew and St Mary’s, Barnes are planning to hold services.

Creationtide

Creationtide or the Season of Creation is the period in the annual church calendar, from 1st September to 4th October, dedicated to God as Creator and Sustainer of all life. Christ Church, East Sheen are observing this season in September with special Eucharistic and All-Age liturgies and an alternative cycle of readings around the theme of eco-justice.

Eco Church

Eco-Church is an initiative from the charity A Rocha, which helps churches become green and sustainable. A Rocha’s vision is for churches of all denominations to care for creation as an integral part of loving their neighbours and following God faithfully. This scheme provides a framework for churches to consider what actions they can take in five areas:

  1. worship and teaching
  2. church buildings
  3. church land
  4. our community and global engagement
  5. lifestyle.

Lots of churches in the deanery are working towards their Bronze award or, having already achieved Bronze, are working towards their Silver award.

More information on Eco Church can be found here.

Three useful webinars, hosted by the Church of England Environment programme, are coming up, and open to all:
An introduction and overview of eco church – getting started – Tuesday 22 June, 1:00–2:00 p.m. BOOK HERE
Working towards an award and gaining momentum – Tuesday 29 June, 1:00–2:00 p.m. BOOK HERE
Working towards net zero carbon with Eco Church – Tuesday 6 July, 1:00–2:00 p.m. BOOK HERE

COP26 Relay

This is an initiative from the Young Christian Climate Network, and is a walking/cycle relay from Truro to Glasgow. Click here for further details. The relay passed through London in early August and walkers from Churchs Together in Barnes joined in the relay, walking from Richmond to St Paul’s Church, Clapham via Wimbledon (see below). 

Amongst them were Julie Smith (Youth Worker at St Mary, Barnes) and her daughter Imogen. You can read a report of their experiences by clicking on the images below.

COP26 Vigil and Pilgrimage – 23rd October

South Bank Churches invites people of all faiths for a time of prayer for the success of COP26, the international conference on climate change in Glasgow.

You’re encouraged to make a pilgrimage on foot, by bike, by public transport, however you wish, from your place of worship – perhaps in a group – to Southwark Cathedral, arriving between 2 – 3pm. Bring a Letter for Creation to pass on to the faith leaders involved in COP.

There will be interactive prayer stations from 2pm. At 3.20 everyone will come together for a time of prayer and reflection with singer Samantha Lindo and St Leonard’s Eco Church Community, ending with a blessing by the Bishop of Kingston.

To register, click here.

St Mary’s, Barnes, is hoping to take part in the pilgrimage.

Prayer from St Anne’s, Kew

Loving Creator God, we give You thanks for the wonders of Your Creation. We ask for grace to see, as You do, the beauty and the suffering of our Planet Earth, and the grace to examine how our life choices impact on creation and on our fellow human beings throughout the world. Help us to recognise the urgency with which we need to act in relation to climate change. We pray in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

Reflection from Christ Church, East Sheen

What is a green ‘tau’? Tau τ is the Greek letter similar to the English T. Tau itself developed from the Phoenician letter Tāw X (from which the Hebrew letter Tav ת is also derived). In ancient times, tau was used as a symbol meaning eternal life or resurrection. In Hebrew tav means mark and this was the sign marked on the foreheads of those who lamented their sins (Ezekiel 9:4). For early Christians tau became an apt symbol of the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

Francis of Assisi used the tau as his mark when signing his letters and other writings. The tau cross, often made of wood, is worn by many Franciscans across the world. Francis is widely known as the saint who spoke with the birds, and to the hungry wolf in Gubio – he worked out a deal between the wolf and the people of Gubio such that they could live together in harmony. Francis was the author of the canticle ‘Brother Sun, Sister Moon’ – probably the first piece of literature written in Italian. Francis understood that everything in creation had been made by God and was deserving of equal love and respect and should be treated as brother or sister. In 1979 Pope John Paul II declared St Francis as the patron saint of ecologists, reflecting not only Francis’s love for all creatures, but also his intuitive understanding of the interconnectedness of the whole of creation. I therefore chose a green tau to represent my desire to live sustainably, protecting the earth.

Judith Russenberger

Follow Judith’s Green Tau Blog at https://greentau.org/

Holy Trinity, Richmond

Visit the Creation Care page on Holy Trinity’s website to find out what they are doing about Climate Change.

Jesuit Ecological Examen

St Anne’s, Kew, write:
The 500-year old Ignatian Examen is a daily prayer of review – a short reflection back over the day, recalling events and taking note of your feelings. The purpose is to discern the ways in which God has been present to you, the times when the Holy Spirit was drawing you towards life. The Jesuits have now developed a special ‘ecological examen’ to help individuals and communities undergo a conversion of heart to embrace ecological justice.

This is a summary of the 6 daily prayer steps