Action for Hope
The Methodist Church has set an aspirational target of becoming a net zero carbon emissions church by 2030. Many districts, circuits and churches have already begun to work towards net zero goals, an Eco District award, or other aims in caring for creation.
To support this journey it was agreed at the Methodist Conference in 2020 that to enable the diversity of our church to fully engage, we needed to develop a range of key partnerships along the way.
With the endorsement of the Conference, we are working with Faith Invest who run the Faith Plans programme which help faiths to use their assets, investments and influence to drive practical action to benefit people and the planet.
The programme involves each religious group developing a long-term action plan to determine how they will manage their assets and resources over the next seven to ten years. We are calling our plan Action for Hope.
Our areas of focus
The Methodist Church has decided to initially focus on three key areas:
- Faith-consistent use of assets – including investments, purchasing power, buildings and land.
- Wisdom – including theology, liturgies and prayer.
- Lifestyles – including traditions of simple living.
In autumn 2021, a task group of Connexional Team members was appointed to take the work forward, reporting to the Methodist Council on progress in January 2022 and to the Methodist Conference in June 2022. Read the report to Conference here (from page 218).
We have committed that by 2030 all travel, electricity and gas directly funded by the Church will have net zero emissions. More detail around these aims, along with guidance and resources to support work, will be produced, in collaboration with districts and circuits.
We will produce resources to support members and church leaders to reduce carbon emissions related to Methodist properties and activities as well as guidance on listed buildings, new property projects and use of other fuel sources.
Much has already been achieved in recent years, notably in our investment policies and noting that the electricity used at Methodist Central House in London is from 100% renewable sources.
Assets: Advice already available
- Historic buildings
- Sustainable building projects
- Reduction of carbon emissions from church buildings including guidance for small, medium and large churches on lighting, insulation, energy management and more, with accompanying case studies
- Green energy purchasing, consumables, heating, campaigning, encouraging wildlife
- Equipping children and young people for climate action
The main resource available is Hope in God’s Future. This was last updated in 2020 but it is planned that a further update will be issued in 2023. The report offers not just a statement on our approach to climate change but resources including for small group reflection and whole-church conversation.
The resource highlights the goodness and interconnectedness of all God has made and this together with the theology and practice of good stewardship informs much of the work of the Connexion from Oversight and Trusteeship, to the emphasis of the JDS strategy on the need for a fairer approach to Christian life together.
Wisdom: Resources already available
- Hope in God's Future helps individuals and local groups to understand the position of the Church on climate change, become aware of a vital connections between climate change and the Christian faith, transform lifestyles through studying, praying and acting on the issues, and inspire others in the community to live in harmony with the whole of creation. The study guide offers questions to get you thinking, ideas for creative activities, prayers and liturgy, help and advice for leaders, and suggestions for group sessions. You can download your copy here.
- God’s World, Our Home is a resource for children and youth groups, to equip them for climate action
- The Revd Simon Topping has written a series of six blogs looking at the theology of climate justice. Find them here.
Further resources are available here.
At the January 2022 meeting of the Methodist Council, the aim of encouraging Methodist members and adherents to reduce their carbon footprints, particularly via the three key areas of energy, travel and diet (the biggest contributors to individual emissions) will be proposed.
Updates and resources on living sustainably will be produced during the course of 2022.
Lifestyles: Resources already available
The Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) have produced a number of resources and campaigns to help get you thinking:
- Ethical shopping
- Commitments to live sustainably - From 2019-2020, JPIT ran Living Lent which challenged individuals to sign up to one of six different commitments for creation. These include giving up single-use plastics, shopping locally, and reducing electricity consumption by 10%. It invited participants to recognise that changing our climate is not just an activity, but a lifestyle, by offering theological reflections and community. You can find the resource here.
Timescales and working arrangements
The task group is currently working on:
- The Action for Hope Plan that was submitted to the April 2022 Methodist Council for approval before final publication in May 2022. Read the published Action for Hope Plan here.
- Identifying how to measure progress against the aims.
- Creating resources and guidance to support progress against the aims, particularly building on resources already available via A Rocha, the Climate Coalition, JPIT and the Methodist website.
- Meeting with representatives from the Central Finance Board, Chapel Aid, Methodist Insurance and the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes to explore options for green funding,
- Supporting the districts and the Connexional Team in using the Plan and associated resources in their context, particularly encouraging Districts to incorporate progress towards net zero carbon emissions into their District Mission Plan.
We will keep you updated on plans and resources as they develop.