As the climate crisis worsens, millions of people around the world are being pushed further into poverty. But there are signs of hope. In recent months, we have seen more political commitments to address the crisis, as well as a growing number of churches answering God’s call to love their neighbours by caring for creation.
Jane Boswell, part of Tearfund’s Action Team, takes a look at how two churches are leading the way to respond to the climate emergency.
St George’s church in Leeds declares a climate emergency
‘It began with four of us getting together to discuss how to engage our church in climate change,’ says Ewan Jones, the church environment officer. The group sought the support of church staff and now the climate emergency is regularly highlighted in prayer meetings and sermons.
They used Tearfund’s Climate Emergency Toolkit to encourage greater action among its members. The church council voted unanimously to recognise a climate emergency – setting the issue as a priority for their church to shape future decisions.
‘The impacts of climate change disproportionately affect developing countries. Those who contribute the least to the problem suffer the most,’ shares Bethan, a church council member.
‘The church is a mouthpiece for truth and justice, so we cannot allow this to continue.’
‘We’re planning opportunities for people to share how they’ve reduced greenhouse gas emissions,’ explains Ewan. ‘Exploring how to divest church funds from fossil fuels, and considering how we can engage with COP26 [the UN’s climate talks in November].’
Planting hope (and trees) in Eternal Faith Church, India
Pastor Sunil, who founded and runs the Eternal Faith Church near Delhi, India, has introduced practical ways his congregation can get involved and learn more about caring for wider creation.
This was inspired by training he attended by Tearfund’s local partner, Evangelical Fellowship of India Commission on Relief (EFICOR).
Under Pastor Sunil’s leadership, Eternal Faith Church has planted a church kitchen garden – as well as teaching and encouraging members to plant their own. They set up a tree plantation drive, which has resulted in 800 saplings being planted. Trees help prevent flooding and erosion – two huge problems people living in poverty face in India.
The church has switched from using single-use items, such as disposable plates, cups and cutlery, and is cutting its electricity use. They also host an annual Eco Sunday – inspiring the congregation and teaching on how to care for the wider environment.
As well as educating his own congregation, Pastor Sunil uses his influence and networking skills to encourage other churches to take their responsibility to care for God’s creation. He also assists EFICOR in organising creation care teaching programmes in India.
Caring for God’s creation is a call every church needs to answer if we are to see all of creation flourishing as God intends.
Pray with us
Read through the article again and praise God for each of the different steps both churches took to help care for creation. Ask God to highlight to you which steps your church can take. Spend as long as you need listening to God – if it is helpful, write down your interaction. End by thanking God and share how God has been speaking to you with your church leader.