You don't need to lie down on the M25 or chain yourself to a train to make a difference with climate justice. But we do need to recongise that younger generations (that generation that we long to come to church) is looking to us to take Climate Change seriously. For that generation and others, Climate Change is not only a concern but something to be acted upon, now.
September 25th, the Circuit had a Day Away with a focus on the Care of Creation and Climate Justice at the Gwatkin's Farm in Hereford. Revd. Neil Richardson lead us in worship with a focus on care for creation and we had some guest speakers- The Gwatkin's spoke of the challenges of sustainable farming that allow for care of the earth but also feeding the country whilst sustaining themselves. Deacon Carys Woodley offered a Forest Church taster where we experienced God through contemplation in nature and spoke of how this outreach speaks to many. Jon Cooke also shared with us the practical ways we can ensure our chapels can make small changes to have a global impact.
Care of Creation is a subject that Christians often shy away from because we often think we need to be eco warriors that are disruptors of society. But what if we shifted away from that thinking to thinking that caring for creation is not only our responsibility but also a response to God's goodness. After all John's Gospel does tell us that all that came into being did so through the Word which is Jesus Christ. Therefore, creation is yet another revelation of God's goodness and entrusted the earth to us. Many people have said to me, "What does it matter? I won't be here in five years." or, "There is nothing we can do anyhow."
But we have known about this crisis which is becoming more urgent for many years. Certainly, in rural areas climate change is visible to those who have the eyes to see and it is certainly a factor of life for those living in places that have been devastated by fires and hurricanes in North America and beyond.
Our focus of the day was to encourage us to be more intentional about how we live our daily lives but also as a community of faith. Every purchase we make has an impact somewhere in the world-for the people who produced it, the people who profit from it but also the people who end up with it when we can't get rid of it.
Our District is part of the A'Rocha scheme for ensuring that our communities of faith are active and visible in taking Climate Change seriously in tangible ways. It can be something as simple as using palm free soaps in chapels, washing up liquid that is more friendly to the earth, plastic free chapels (that bottle of water under the pulpit is lovely but could tap water in a glass be used instead?), providing hospitality that is sustainable (fair trade coffee or biscuits that come in sustainable packaging), and, ensuring that chapels are using sustainable green energy rather than fossil fuels.
Much to everyone's displeasure, the printed worship plan is not coming back. Part of this reason is the amount of work and cost it takes to distribute across the Circuit but a smaller reason is the use of paper to print and distribute. Another change we can make is ensuring that our worship reflects creation in our prayers.
I used to be in the apathetic group when it came to matters of climate change until a few years ago when I realised that this issue was escalating quickly and I saw lots of plastic washing up on the shores of a remote Scottish island I lived on- a place where water is piped in from and everything that goes down drains and toilets ends up directly, untreated, into the ocean. You might tell yourself it is too late, or, that this doesn't matter because you are in the winter of your life and won't see the immediate changes. Certainly, people have shared that sentiment with me, but as Christians our response to God's entrusting of the earth is good stewardship on our part. And a small group of people is powerful- Jesus started with 12 and here we are 2000 years later with the same Gospel.
If you would like to be part of the Care for Creation group email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for our distribution list (if you haven't already). We also have a Facebook Group under Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury Care for Justice of Creation.
Revd. MacNeill Cooper