Resources and support for churches who want to act on in response to the climate emergency
At its AGM in 2019 the Irish Council of Churches adopted its Affirmations on Climate Justice. This was the culmination of an 18–month process in which the Churches examined together why they should respond to climate change, how they should, and what in particular they could offer to a broader societal response.
ICC Affirmations on Climate Justice and Care of Creation
You can find explorations of each of the affirmations written by a variety of contributors here.
How can churches begin this work?
An essential starting point for Irish churches seeking to take action on climate justice and care of creation is to join Eco–Congregation Ireland. They provide a pathway to certification at various levels as an “eco–congregation” and the support of a network of other churches across Ireland committed to permeating all of their work with concern for those suffering because of the effects of climate change.
Other resources that churches may find useful:
Both the Church of Ireland and the Quakers in Ireland have developed resources to help churches do an “audit” of their church buildings and practices to get a clearer picture of where they are starting from.
A good way to keep informed about relevant developments in Ireland is to sign up for the mailing list of Christian Aid partner Stop Climate Chaos who provide regular emails with ideas for action and advocacy.
A report written for Christian Aid by Susan Durber looking at why churches should be concerned about climate change and how we can have hope: ‘Song of the Prophets: A Global Theology of Climate Change‘.
Féidhlim Harty, a member of the Quaker church in Ireland has written a book on reducing our waste which can be applied in the church community and in our households: Towards Zero Waste: How to Live a Circular Life. It can be purchased directly from Féidhlim here. The The National Biodiversity Data Centre has a resource especially for Faith Communities to help them consider how they use their outdoor space and show how to make it more pollinator–friendly.
Sometimes in this work we can be tempted to despair, but as Christians we are called to be a people of Hope, even though we may not be optimistic. Susan Durber, in the “Song of the Prophets” resources above, outlines the difference between optimism and hope. Optimism simply expects things to get better and refuses to face the tragic, the painful and the dangerous. Hope, by contrast, is the kind of looking forward that refuses to be beaten no matter what the future might bring, because it is rooted in something outside the scope of “what might happen”.
She quotes theologian Richard Bauckham who says that, as Christians, our ultimate hope can never lie in temporal developments such as economic growth or human improvement, but only in the promises of God, the one who will, in the fullness of eternity, restore creation (Romans 8:18–25). This hope does not eliminate the need to act, but actually requires and inspires us to act. It enables us to live in the world as it is, but with our faces turned towards the world as it might be, the world that we trust that God is ultimately renewing. A hope like this can be profoundly subversive.
Nevertheless, grief over the injustice, destruction and denial that we see is real and denial of its emotional and spiritual impact is unhelpful. Hannah Malcolm and Rachel Mander‘s writings address this reality …
… the reality that we are facing a climate emergency. This can seem overwhelming and disempowering but Operation Noah have developed a ‘Church Climate Emergency Toolkit‘ which, under three headings – prepare, declare, impact, guides churches through a process to work out how they can best act in response.