05 June 2020

Climate Sunday: giving a voice to local churches

Marking World Environment Day, a new ecumenical initiative is launched today to provide focus for churches from across Britain and Ireland committed to action to combat climate change. Climate Sunday has been organised by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland with support from charities including CAFOD, Christian Aid, Tearfund, A Rocha UK, and Operation Noah.

Churches are encouraged to hold a local Climate Sunday any time during a one year period starting on 6th September 2020 (the first Sunday in the annual season of Creationtide). 

Rachel Lampard, Joint Public Issues Team Leader, said:

“Covid 19 has shown just how much we rely on each other and how we need connected communities and healthy environments to deal with huge global threats.  Climate Sunday is an opportunity for churches to commit to the kind of future we want to see: one where there is a healthy planet and thriving people.

“It has been great to see churches making decisions to build this kind of future, changing their buildings, their worship and their community relationships.  We should be proud of Romsey Methodist Church, awarded only the second Methodist gold Eco Church award in the country.  And as the UK looks forward to hosting the UN meeting COP26 in November 2021, a group of young Methodists from around the world are beginning a project to encourage the global Methodist family to act for climate justice. 

“Together we can work to raise our voices to call for ambitious change nationally and internationally, as well as seeking it within our own communities.  I look forward to seeing how Methodist churches use the Climate Sunday resources.”

Resources will be provided to suit every tradition and style of worship. During their local Climate Sunday, churches are invited to do one or more of three things:

  • Climate service: 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.
  • Call: Join with other churches and wider society by adding their name to a common call for the UK government to take much bolder action on climate change in this country in advance of COP26, and to strengthen its credibility to lead the international community to adopt a step change in action at COP26.

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.

To register for Climate Sunday visit the dedicated website: https://www.climatesunday.org/

An example of how Methodists have already engaged with tackling climate change is Romsey Methodist Church in Hampshire which recently received an Eco Church gold award from A Rocha in recognition of the green initiatives they have taken in the past four years.

Romsey Methodist minister, the Revd Gareth Hill, said:

“We are thrilled with the award that has come after really hard work by the whole church.”

“Since 2015 we have completely redeveloped the building to be more flexible and user-friendly. The £400,000 refurbishment was complemented by growing our work with children and families, engaging with community initiatives in the town, learning how to offer the best welcome to visitors and new worshippers - and recognising our responsibilities as stewards of this earth.

“As Christians, we believe that God as Creator is passionately concerned for the planet. We want to do our bit - not just in Romsey but on a wider scale too.”

Helen Stephens, Church Relations Manager for A Rocha UK, said:

“A Rocha UK are thrilled that Romsey Methodist have achieved their Gold Eco Church Award.  Romsey Methodist Church is now our 11th Gold Awarded Eco Church in England and Wales and only the second Methodist Church to achieve this.

“We recognise it has been a community effort; with everyone from across the church getting involved from running green fayres to fundraising for solar panels.  It is clear how achieving this Gold Eco Church award is not an end in itself but a springboard to greater action to address climate change in their own place of worship and community.

“We also want to recognise Romsey's role of championing Eco Church within their district. Winchester, Eastleigh & Romsey circuit was the first in the country to achieve a Bronze Award as an Eco Circuit.

“We want to encourage other Methodist churches to follow Romsey's example and join the growing Eco Church community or continue their Eco Church journeys to reach for Gold!"

Listen to Chief Executive of A Rocha UK, Andy Atkins who is also Chair of the Climate Sunday coalition, on this week’s Methodist podcast here.

Hear more about the Romsey gold award from Eco Church here.

Also, in this week’s podcast you can listen to Stephen Beer, Chief Finance Officer of the Methodist Central Finance Board, discuss how ethical concerns influence investment decisions here

Photo is of members of the congregation at Romsey Methodist Church previously receiving a Silver award from A Rocha.

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