As the World Church gathers in Karlsruhe for the Assembly of the World Council of Churches:
1st September is the beginning of the Season of Creation and the ‘World Day of Prayer for Care for Creation. As I’m in Karlsruhe as an observer (annual study leave) here’s a reflective contribution to that day…
Note: I hope we are recovering from the damage done by over-eager theologians who some while ago maintained – in defiance of the exemplary life of Christ – that Christian love can only be 100% self-giving, self-sacrificing. That and the equally harmful, entitled and imperialist suggestion that the church is an organisation concerned only with the care of those who are not its members. Care is much more nuanced and interactive than that….especially care of Creation, who cares for us.
Created, we are sustained.
Not past: ….right now
Not looking back.
(We’ve done enough of that!)
for so much lies before us:
Christ walks beside us.
Showing us the wisdom
of the trees and the birds and the Earth.
Christ be sharing with us
as in prayer of word and thought
and prayer embodied as action and commitment
we seek the Wild Wind Spirit’s help and guidance
to renew and repurpose your Church
with fellow creatures
-known and unknown-
on whose care for us, unbeknown
we have always depended:
That family of the Earth
whose value and whose rights
so vastly exceed whatever price
with which we brand them;
with which we discount them.
Christ teach us again that Kingdom
you brought within our reach:
to live the Way the Skies are Ruled
whom birds make Heaven;
into whom trees breathe life
that we may breathe at all.
And Christ, as you gave all,
and yet enjoyed hospitality:
(needing to be strengthened and prepared for that giving)
DO YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND WHAT A NET ZERO FUTURE MEANS FOR YOUR CHURCH OR COMMUNITY BUILDING?
Join us to hear from HeatHack, partnering with The Surefoot Effect for a new programme funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering recruiting small groups from community buildings including churches to start from September. The remit includes heat loss mitigations, changes in how the building is used, and local generation – and includes the kind of planning plus a community engagement event that helps in accessing grants. HeatHack previously helped solve heating problems and inefficiencies in Edinburgh churches.
HeatHack director Jean Carletta explains: “Thanks to the Royal Academy of Engineering, we have a new programme of facilitated group sessions that community building operators can use to understand what a Net Zero future holds for their own premises.”
“It will help you understand energy efficiency and thermal comfort in what are often very difficult buildings. It will also help you think about what your local community needs from your buildings, whether that means changes, and how to make change happen. We want to help you devise a plan for the future and equip you with the knowledge and confidence to instruct heating engineers and architects with briefs that will get you where you want to be.”
Each group will link with a volunteer engineer to take them through some simple technical concepts and exercises on heat transfer, health and safety and managing complex projects. Engineers Without Borders UK are helping to recruit engineers, but you may know one in your own area to support this work. Join us on Tuesday to hear more by registering here:
Join us this September at the Climate Fringe Festival! You can find Climate, Community and Justice events all across Scotland on our events map: https://climatefringe.org/cff
The festival aims to bring communities together, generate conversation about Climate Justice, and raise awareness of the need to move towards a green, fair, zero carbon society. Over 50 events have already signed up, including repair workshops, festivals, climate justice talks, live music, and more. Are you planning an event in September? Add it to our calendar and get involved here: climatefringe.org/cff-organise-event/
We are adding more amazing events each week so keep an eye on the Climate Fringe, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Eco-Congregation Scotland is keen to encourage all eco-congregations to please consider holding a Climate Conversation, local activity or event in your own church and community during the Climate Fringe Festival and will be in touch directly to offer ideas and support.
This period also includes Scotland’s Climate Week from 26th September, organised by the Scottish Government to help raise awareness of the global climate emergency and celebrate organisations taking action against climate change.
Our next confirmed events, activities and training are being updated to share online. Please get in touch to share what you are doing locally:
Today we spotlight our partner Christian Aid and their wide range of materials available for churches looking to learn more about climate justice. Whether you’re looking for an all-age arts project or a discussion guide for making a church action plan, you’ll find something to suit on the Climate Justice Church Resources page, or check out video resources on Christian Aid’s YouTube channel.
Volunteers, churches and faith groups across Scotland welcomed thousands of pilgrims and visitors for last year’s COP26 climate conference, including Walk2COP26 which you can hear more about here. This has developed into Walk2COP27 as we join people from different countries, faith groups, charities, businesses and education establishments to “educate each other on climate challenges and action, forge a sense of solidarity, connect with like minds and catalyse action”.
Walk2COP27 aims to accelerate climate action in the run-up to the COP27 climate conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, based around a virtual journey over 45 days from COP26 host city Glasgow. Twelve countries between Scotland and Egypt will host a hybrid or virtual Townhall meeting that showcases how climate change is impacting that location and solutions that are being deployed.
Eco-Congregation Scotland invites individuals, churches and faith groups across Scotland to take part in the virtual journey from 22 September to 7 November:
WALK each participant will be encouraged to walk – or run, cycle or wheelchair – as far as they can over 45 days, in their chosen locations, with progress tracked on the platform atlasGO and trees planted by the Jane Goodall Institute for kilometres travelled
TALK all participants will be encouraged to attend the Townhalls and other dialogue sessions run in between
ACT participants will be encouraged to fundraise, provide input to a proclamation to be published for COP27 and engage in local climate actions
Open to participants all over the world, organisations, teams and individuals can participate by tracking their kilometres travelled on an app in their own locations. It will be great opportunity to walk or take part in other active travel in your own area and with others in your church and community.
Participants can share their climate-related projects, and learn from others via the planned Townhall meetings and social media – including a participants’ forum on the Clubhouse app where all involved can chat. We look forward to supporting discussion on the issues that matter to you.
Towards the end of our journey, participants will contribute to a proclamation which will be delivered to the formal participants at COP27. Climate Justice is always a strong motivator for faith-inspired action and this offers a timely opportunity to join voices around the world, speaking as one on tackling the climate crisis.
How to participate
The journey starts on Thursday 22 September at 12.30pm with the Glasgow Townhall hosted by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. This is an open, hybrid public meeting that you can attend in person or join online, with panel discussions on Scotland’s climate change challenges and solutions plus the intersection between health and climate globally.
Participants will be able to register on an App and join a team from 1 September. Once the journey starts participants will be able to:
Have trees planted on their behalf by tracking the distance they travel up to 6 November 2022
Communicate with their team on the app and see how others are progressing – we hope you will join us and other Scottish faith groups
Participate in the 12 Townhalls which are run across the 45 days
Lead or participate in sessions on climate action on Clubhouse run by participants
Raise funds for the Jane Goodall Institute
Contribute to a proclamation summarising the views of all those participating for COP27 delegates to hear
Participants can do as much or as little as you want. Many are planning local activities to complement those above.
What to do now
We look forward to you joining us in September. For now, please:
Please also think about how you would like to get involved or organised through your own group or eco-congregation. Contact our own team with ideas for Eco-Congregation Scotland in your church or area, and for all our volunteers across the country.
A request to register on the app will be sent out on Wednesday 31 August, a link to the app with our code will also be directly accessible on the website from that date.
Scottish faith communities call on COP26 President to honour Glasgow Pact commitments
Eco-Congregation Scotland chairperson Richard Murray is among diverse faith leaders and groups calling on COP26 President Alok Sharma to honour the Glasgow Pact commitments.
The Pact includes commitments from 197 nations to build resilience to climate change, curb greenhouse gas emissions and provide finance for both, agreed at the COP26 United Nations climate conference in Glasgow last November.
Religious leaders and faith organisations across Scotland have signed a letter requesting a meeting with Mr Sharma to discuss progress.
At COP26, Mr Sharma said the pact was a “fragile win” and that “unless we honour the promises made – to turn the commitments in the Glasgow Climate Pact into action – they will wither on the vine.”
Representatives of Scottish faith groups are concerned that world developments have diverted attention from COP26 commitments.
United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, has warned it is “now or never” to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
Director of Interfaith Scotland, Dr Maureen Sier said: “The fragile win achieved at COP26 is at grave risk. It is essential that all governments commit to actioning the Glasgow Pact and work together, with others, to ensure a future for all”.
The letter was developed by the COP26 Interfaith Working Group and signed by faith leaders and organisations across Scotland. The COP26 Interfaith Working Group is made up of representatives from Scottish faith groups and organisations working on climate issues. The group is chaired by Interfaith Scotland with Interfaith Glasgow acting as Secretariat.
Chair and Secretariat of the COP26 Interfaith Working Group
The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, COP President Designate
Dear Mr Sharma,
cc Prime Minister Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP and First Minister Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP
Faith and Belief Communities request meeting in preparation for COP27
We write to ask for a meeting with you to hear what your Presidency has been doing to honour the Glasgow Pact commitments and what progress has been made.
As representatives of faith groups from across Scotland, we were proud to welcome delegates, campaigners, pilgrims and others to COP26. We joined people of faith from around the globe demanding action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
We are increasingly concerned that developments around the world since COP26 have diverted attention from the commitments that were made. The persistence of the Covid pandemic, a terrible war in Ukraine and dramatic energy price rises that are promoting calls for new oil and gas development put these commitments at risk.
You told us at the close of the conference that it was a “fragile win” and that “unless we honour the promises made – to turn the commitments in the Glasgow Climate Pact into action – they will wither on the vine.” And UN Secretary General, António Guterres, has warned us it is “now or never” to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
We call on you to ensure that the COP26 commitments are put into effect and that climate justice and real energy security are available to all. As priorities we call upon you to ensure the following:
End new oil and gas exploration as recommended by The International Energy Agency
Build sustainable economies powered by renewable energy
That no one lives in fuel poverty, in the UK or overseas.
As representatives of faith groups across Scotland we commit to doing our part. Many of us are working across Scotland to promote community action on climate change. We will redouble our efforts and assure you of our continuing support to ensure the commitments made at COP26 are put into effect.
Yours, in hope,
The COP 26 Interfaith Working Group and Scottish religious leaders
The Right Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the General Assembly, The Church of Scotland Sheikh Hassan Rabbani, Chair of Scottish Muslim Forum Acharya Ji Mishra, Priest of Hindu Mandir Glasgow Rev Bonnie Evans-Hills, Priest, Scottish Episcopal Church Revd Paul Whittle, Synod Moderator, National Synod of Scotland, The United Reformed Church Choje Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche, Abbot, Kagyu Samye Ling Sr Isabel Smyth OBE, Catholic Bishops’ Interreligious Dialogue Committee Baha’i Community of Scotland Muslim Council of Scotland Richard Murray, Chairperson, Eco-Congregation Scotland Sally Foster-Fulton, Head of Christian Aid Scotland Alistair Dutton, Director, SCIAF Ravinder Kaur Nijjar, Chair, Religions for Peace UK Women of Faith Network, Sikh Representative, Scottish Religious Leaders Forum, Advisor, Sikhs in Scotland Dr Rose Drew, CEO, Interfaith Glasgow Dr Maureen Sier, Director, Interfaith Scotland Professor Joe Goldblatt, Chair, Edinburgh Interfaith Association Olivia Fuchs, Coordinator, Eco Dharma Robert Harrap, General Director, Soka Gakkai International – UK Jill Kent, Chair, Justice and Peace Scotland Elizabeth Allen, Clerk of General Meeting, Quakers in Scotland Rev Dr Carolyn Kelly, Chaplain, The University of Glasgow Harjot Singh Kambo, Lead Coordinator Scotland, EcoSikhUK Jonathan Baxter, Curator, A+E – Pilgrimage for COP26 Sister Mary McClure, Provincial Leader, Sisters of Notre Dame (British Province) Christine Anderson, Faithful Companions of Jesus William G Crook, The Order of Interbeing Plum Village Tradition Aekus Kamboj, Environment Officer, CEMVO Scotland David Somervell, Member, South Edinburgh Quaker Local Meeting Mahrukh Adnan Shaukat, Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre The Iona Community Glasgow Baha’i Community Brahma Kumaris Earth Holders Edinburgh The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Supporting organisations Shanon Shah, Director, Faith for the Climate Fletcher Harper, Executive Director, GreenFaith Rev Henrik Grape, Co-Chair, Interfaith Liaison Committee (ILC) to the UNFCCC