Climate Sunday leaves lasting legacy
Having galvanised thousands of churches and church groups to take action on climate change in the lead up to COP26, the Climate Sunday campaign has now come to a close, leaving a lasting legacy of valuable resources for churches to take further action, writes the Revd Gethin Rhys, policy officer for Cytun, who was involved in the campaign.
More than 2,300 churches and church groups throughout Britain and Ireland participated in the Climate Sunday Initiative in the run-up to COP26, addressing climate change by holding Climate Sunday services, committing to practical action and speaking up for climate justice. This widespread take up of the initiative across diverse church traditions indicates a growing commitment by local churches to act on climate change. It was also the largest ecumenical response to the climate crisis in the UK in the run-up to COP26.
For example, in April 2021 the Governing Body of the Church in Wales set the ambitious challenge for the Church to reach zero carbon across churches, cathedrals, dioceses and school estates by 2030.
Churches which led a Climate Sunday service included St Martin’s and St Hilary’s in the parish of Killay in Swansea. They heard of Salote, a seven-year-old living on an island threatened by storms and famine in the South Pacific; and a powerful prayer montage from contributors to COP26 and a poem entitled “If the earth were only a few feet in diameter”.
Now, the coalition of churches and Christian agencies which led the Climate Sunday campaign plan to build on the progress made over the course of the campaign. As part of this, they will maintain the legacy website of Climate Sunday - www.climatesunday.org – which shows how local churches can take further steps to protect nature. There are a wide range of worship resources in both Welsh and English, and guidance on how to continue to Speak Up on the climate crisis. The EcoChurch and Live Simply schemes will also continue to be available for local churches to join.
Andy Atkins, co-chair of Climate Sunday and CEO of A Rocha UK explains,“The commitment to action shown by thousands of churches as part of Climate Sunday is inspiring. It should bring practical progress and hope, particularly to young people desperate for their church communities and politicians to engage on this critical issue. The rich resources created by members of the campaign will help local churches to continue to take effective action in 2022 when the UK government still has the presidency of COP.”
Hannah Brown, Campaign and Churches Engagement Officer at the Joint Public Issues Team, adds, “We know that the journey ahead as we transition to net-zero across the world will not be easy. We are grateful that church communities across Britain and Ireland have been part of enabling the legacy of COP26 to be more than a negotiated outcome, but also a transformation of grassroots churches’ engagement in climate action”.