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COP26 Special from the Scottish Episcopal Church

Welcome to a special COP26 edition of Inspires Online - the electronic newsletter of the Scottish Episcopal Church. This edition of Inspires Online highlights news and events from across the Church relating to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held in Glasgow from Sunday 31 October to Friday 12 November.

It is good to hear from our readers so please do get in touch with us either by replying to this email or by contacting Donald Walker, Director of Communications at dwalker@scotland.anglican.org, or Aidan Strange, Digital Communications Co-ordinator at aidans@scotland.anglican.org.



"Listen to the quiet voices" - The Primus, Bishop Mark Strange, looks at the hopes and expectations around COP26 as we seek to care for God's creation

As I write this, I'm sitting watching the leaves changing colour outside my office window. There's a tree which is just at the corner of the churchyard at Arpafeelie which always begins to turn first, its leaves slowly, then quickly, becoming golden before plunging to a striking mix of reds then browns.

As I have watched the autumn begin, the plants begin to bed down for the winter in this changing of the season; I remember that once the bare winter is over then the cycle will come round again. We will have the cool, clear spring and then the joyful warmth of summer. So it has been for much of my life. Yet as we have stayed at home over these past months because of the pandemic, I have appreciated the slow but ever-moving changing of the seasons in a new way.

But just as I can anticipate the leaves coming back on that tree, it is becoming clear that in other places around the world many others no longer know what their seasons will hold. People can't be confident that the rains will come, or know if their land will flood. People can no longer be confident that their crops will grow, or know if they will have the time and energy to harvest. People and places are struggling and dying now because of the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. People are increasingly anxious and increasingly fearful, and there is growing anger and concern for the future.

In Scotland we have a stable climate. As is so often the case, the worst affects of climate crisis will be felt that much more strongly in places where their climate is not so stable. So the changes that I can see, and the emotions which flow through me as I know they flow through many in our Church, are much more pressing in other parts of our world.

I've been thinking about those emotions and reactions as we all prepare for COP26 in Glasgow. The hopes and expectations of so many people are that  political leaders will listen to the voices of people around the world who are simply frightened for the very ground they stand on and the lives around them. The Scottish Episcopal Church has put in place and will continue to develop processes which enable us to have a much lighter footprint on the ground, and will enable us to make a better use of the resource we have so that we don't contribute to stripping the environment of those things which produce the very air that we breathe.

There will be moments of tears, moments of anger, and moments of laughter in Glasgow, but I hope there will be moments of prayer. Why are we going? Why is our Anglican Communion delegation gathering? It is because as a church, and as people of faith, that's what we do: we pray. Our prayers are to God who created this beautiful little planet we all live on. Our prayers are that God will help us to do everything in our power to protect the environment we live in.

With prayer, with conversation and simply by being visibly present, we can use the time to push home the point to political leaders that this crisis is real and that people of the world, especially those with the least ability to affect change, are being impacted by our continual drive for greater consumption, greater profits, and greater power.

We will try and insist that they listen to the quiet voices, voices that might not be physically present, and we will pray again that world leaders make the right decisions for our planet.

The Scottish Episcopal Church will be there along with old friends and hopefully new friends. We will spend our time carefully encouraging, noisily supporting and - I suspect - sometimes loudly reacting to what is happening because to honour God means caring for God’s creation, not simply for what it gives us but so that we can pass it on, healing and restoring, to those who will come after us.

Please pray for all who will gather in Glasgow, for the leaders of the nations and those of us who will bring hope and prayer.
OnRing our for the Climate!

From Eco-Congregation Scotland

We mostly associate church bells with the call to worship, weddings and very special national celebrations such as the millennium or the ending of the Second World War. But they also have another historic function: to ring out warnings.

Normally those warnings have been local: to warn of fire, floods or shipwrecks. But they were very much on standby to warn of possible invasions by Hitler, Napoleon or the Spanish Armada. Times of real national crisis.

Churches across Scotland, including Scottish Episcopal Churches will use this tradition to highlight that today is a time of real national crisis and so on Saturday 30th October they will be ringing their bells to warn the people of their local area of the threat we all face. Places of worship are invited to ring a bell for climate justice at 6pm for thirty minutes.

The bells at St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow will lead the UK-wide toll.

One SEC church, St Magnus’ in Lerwick, explained this week why it will be taking part in the bell ringing, with the support of Shetland Inter Faith.

Rev’d Canon Neil Brice, Rector at St Magnus’, said: “I am pleased that our bell will join with others across the country to sound out and remind people that we can no longer just ignore the obvious signs of Climate change. This is a worldwide happening and people of all faiths are showing their unity and concern about this.”

Radina McKay from Shetland Inter Faith said: "The focus of interfaith work this year has been our planet and its peoples. United in vision, the faith communities across Scotland issued the Glasgow Multi-Faith Declaration for COP26 calling upon world leaders to do their utmost to limit the effects of climate change. Shetland Inter Faith is happy to take part in this welcome initiative.”
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Commitment of COP26 pilgrims proves an inspiration


The Rev Diana Hall, Rector of St Anne’s in Dunbar, reports on the pilgrimages being made to Glasgow, witnessing dedication and sacrifice in abundance from those who are determined to have their voices heard.

As COP26 approaches, a variety of pilgrim groups have been making their way to Glasgow on foot.

On Sunday 17 October, Dunbar hosted the launch event for the Art + Ecology Pilgrimage, linked with St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh. The pilgrimage is a walk and learning journey from Dunbar to Glasgow to reflect on the climate and ecological crisis in anticipation of COP26. Working with cultural, community and interfaith organisations, it invites us to re-imagine what it means to be ecological.

The Dunbar launch was co-curated by North Light Arts and became a town-wide event drawing in groups from across the community’s churches and beyond. There was fun and games for all ages, and an opening ceremony at Dunbar Harbour including the lighting of a Warning Beacon.

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As part of the events St Anne’s Church exhibited local panels from the global Stitches for Survival craftivism project and offered quiet space for reflection and prayer including Episcopalian and Quaker worship, silent guided meditations led by the World Community for Christian Meditation, and creative prayer stations resourced in collaboration with Discovery Church Dunbar and 24/7 Prayer Scotland.

Outside in the church’s Peace Garden there was a public reading of the key findings of the 2018 IPCC Report, and one of the most powerful moments of the whole day came as pilgrims undertook a slow “mindfulness walk” from the High Street to the Harbour, and found their journey through the garden disrupted by signs declaring “Code Red” and “Act Now” while the consensus of the global scientific community was narrated as they passed.

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The first day of the pilgrimage, 15 miles along the John Muir Way from Dunbar to North Berwick, was wet but no less rich for that. Around lunchtime the Keeper of the Soils cape, a wonderful piece of embroidery made in collaboration with local people, received the first of many samples of local soils - to be collected en route and stored in pouches in the cape and walked to Glasgow - from Phantassie Organics farm at East Linton.

The Art & Ecology Pilgrims were joined by walkers from the Youth Christian Climate network, a relay walk from the G8 in Cornwall to COP26. They are walking to seek just financing of climate solutions to ensure those who are poorest are not left footing the bill for climate change for which they bear less responsibility.

If this was not enough to call attention to the forthcoming Climate Conference, St Anne’s then hosted 30 pilgrims from the 5th Ecumenical Pilgrimage for Climate Change, made up of walkers from Poland and Sweden and are supported by SCIAF as they walk to COP demanding a revolution in transportation, agriculture and food policy and implementation. Local churches worked together to offer them a vegan supper resourced from locally grown fruit and vegetables from the town’s community garden, and a dram of single malt gifted by a kind soul who met the walkers at the Scottish border. In the morning we prayed together before they left.

Watching all these pilgrims cope with sore feet, cold and wet weather, and basic living conditions, what struck me most was their commitment. One of the walkers from Sweden told me he had given up his job to walk to Glasgow. He had been on the road since August. To see the dedication of so many bearing witness to the need for change, and the willingness to make sacrifices to ensure their voices are heard, was profoundly hopeful. Let’s pray that the nations’ leaders grasp the nettle.

Ms Hall also highlighted pilgrimage on BBC Radio Scotland this week, when gave Thought For the Day on the Good Morning Scotland programme.

“Pilgrimage is an ancient practice,” she told listeners. “Christians and others have always walked long journeys to places of spiritual significance to deepen their connection with God and one another; and to learn more about their faith. It’s a way to seek healing and to receive blessing; and in modern times walking has also become a form of protest.”

She continued: ““Taking a long walk with a purpose signifies a depth of commitment; bears witness to others; and opens up space for unhurried conversation, building solidarity with companions on the road.”

The full broadcast can be heard here at the 1hr 21min mark.
Online worship during COP26

During the period of COP26 there will be a number of additional special services that will be broadcast by the Scottish Episcopal Church. The normal Sunday worship will continue with worship from the Diocese of Brechin on Sunday 31 October, and the Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane on Sunday 7 November.

And in addition to the Sunday worship there will be a service of Compline every day at 8pm held via Zoom and live streamed on the SEC channels.

Full details of these services will be available at this page on our website, and will be promoted via our social media channels in advance.

Please join us in prayer at this important time.
Students to hold day of prayer and fasting

SEI students have designated Monday 1 November as a day of prayer and fasting, focusing their attention on COP26 and the well-being of God’s creation.

From 6am till 9pm ordinands and Lay Reader candidates across the Province will hold brief times of prayer on each hour using a virtual prayer room set up on Moodle, their on-line learning management system. These short acts of worship will be punctuated by four longer Offices: Morning Prayer, Midday Prayer, Evening Prayer and Compline. At each, the climate bell will be rung for alarm, for justice and for praise.

Students have set up a rota for leading these times of prayer, each of which will focus specifically upon one of the issues driving the Conference’s ambition and action, as listed in the COP26 Presidency Programme e.g. ‘transition to Global net zero’, ‘keeping 1.5 degrees in reach’, and ‘protecting communities’.

SEI’s Eco-Congregation Scotland representative, second year Lay Reader candidate Patricia Ellison from the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness, and one of the students organising the day, said: “Together we will weave a seamless ribbon of prayer to encircle our fragile planet whilst we hold all her forever children in our hearts.”
Highlighting voices from around the World

Throughout the weeks of COP26 the Scottish Episcopal Church will be highlighting voices from across Scotland and around the world to talk about the direct impacts of the climate crisis.

These voices will include a series of videos filmed by the Rev Rachel Mash at the 2021 Council of Anglican Provinces of African Bishops Training Conference in Cairo.

The videos will be published daily on our social media accounts and the Scottish Episcopal Church's You Tube channel.

We are still accepting contributions from people in Scotland and around the world, so if you have a story about how climate change is impacting your community please contact our Digital Communications Co-ordinator, Aidan Strange at aidans@scotland.anglican.org
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Art installations make big impact during COP26 pilgrimages


St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh has been a focal point for pilgrimages en route to COP26, with striking installations appearing both inside and outside the building.

Dozens of silk flags were placed on the lawn adjacent to the building as part of a project entitled Beach of Dreams, an epic walk of 500 miles along the east coast of England to explore how we can take care of the environment, take care of the coast, take care of the community and ourselves. Ali Pretty, the artistic director of Kinetika, who are behind the Beach of Dreams project, was at the cathedral to see her installation in place during her pilgrimage to COP26.

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St Mary’s also hosted the boat that has accompanied the Youth Christian Climate Network from the G20 summit in Cornwall in June to COP26 in Glasgow. 

The YCCN pilgrims met Bishop Kevin Pearson at the start of the penultimate leg of their journey, at a breakfast kindly hosted by the community of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Motherwell, the Rev Richard and Katharine Kilgour.

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Stephen Watt, a member of the Young Christian Climate Network, who was confirmed by Bishop Kevin earlier this year, presented the bishop with a special, appropriately purple, YCCN #RiseToTheMoment t-shirt.

The pilgrims finally reached Glasgow on Saturday 30 October, ready to put their appeal forward to those attending COP26.

(Main picture of flags installation at St Mary's Cathedral courtesy of Peter Backhouse)
OnThe Scottish Episcopal Institute - greening the curriculum

Pat Ellison writes on behalf of the SEI's eco champions

The Scottish Episcopal Institute brings together people from very different communities and backgrounds; a common vocation produces a community of astonishing diversity. However, within the community there is a real coming together where issues related to Creation care are concerned. Here the community works in lockstep, its staff and students alike committed to finding ways to redress the climate emergency, to think creatively about issues of climate justice and rigorously to explore the role(s) of church in making a difference, whether through practical measures or through long term commitment to work in theological language and prayer. Both are needed – and of course they are inextricably linked.

This commitment was evident in our study weekend, just completed. Our time was bookended with worship, Friday’s evening prayer and Sunday’s Eucharist both using the recently published liturgies from the SEC for the Creation season. Each act of worship during the weekend honoured the created order, acknowledging the many challenges which face us all, and which are sharply focussed in the upcoming Conference of the Parties assembling in Glasgow at the end of October.

SEI staff have undertaken a brave commitment to green the curriculum; readers can find out more in the SEI Journal for Autumn 2021, available here. Creational issues figure both academically and formationally for us at SEI, they are living concerns for both reflection and action; students are actively engaged in both debate and process. Our Mission and Ministry programme this year, in which all students participate, directly addresses the challenge of safeguarding the integrity of creation, sustaining and renewing the life of the earth, the 5th Mark of Mission. Beginning this past weekend with a thorough and professional engagement with the scientific issues, led by Dr Martin Hodson of the John Ray Initiative, the programme will go on to consider issues of biodiversity, Christian discipleship and environmental action before looking in detail at the toolkit which the SEC is currently developing.

At our December weekend, we will host Dr Martin Johnstone, Glasgow Churches Together Ambassador to CoP26, currently working with member churches, ecumenical organisations, civil society groups and the Scottish and UK governments to seek transformational outcomes from the summit. He will challenge us to develop the legacy of CoP26, exploring what we as Scottish Christians and future leaders of charges might continue to do after the Conference. Meanwhile, staff and students will each respond to the Conference in our own way – by marching, supporting others, singing, writing, praying. It is key that this momentum is not lost. 

Each member of SEI is of course also engaged in the work of diverse congregations across Scotland as part of the bigger environmental challenge for the church as a whole. For the future, as SEI students proceed to ordination and licensing, the understanding and habit of mind developed now will be a crucial factor in the leadership of churches.

Accordingly, SEI Chapter, which has an eco-champion in each year group, has now sought a membership relationship with Eco Congregation Scotland as we explore together, students and staff, the vocational and formational questions which are posed by the threats to our planet, and work out our response in prayer, worship and action. Through this relationship, we will share ideas, share resources, develop our thinking and help make a difference. They, and we, are excited by the opportunities for working in partnership.

Earlier this month, on the feast of St Francis, faith leaders met in the Vatican to ponder the heavy issues facing the planet ahead of COP26. I am minded of what St Francis allegedly said about preaching the gospel using words if necessary. In response, I leave you with this picture – of our SEI Principal who walks the talk, treading gently on the earth in her green vegan shoes.
St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow hosts CLIMATETALK

St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow sponsored events on climate change coordinating with COP26.

The relationship between mental health and climate change was the first topic in a series of four compelling talks on climate change sponsored by St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow. CLIMATETALK, coordinating with the global climate summit initially scheduled to be held in Glasgow in 2020, invited experts from a variety of research areas to contribute to the discussion helping to shape thought and action on climate change. During the period of lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cathedral made CLIMATETALK events available online as podcasts, free and open to the public.

St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow aimed to convene inspiring speakers to equip people with information and ideas. CLIMATETALK featured an array of presenters from a wide range of expertise. Speakers included Harriet Ingle, PhD, a Postdoctoral Researcher in Climate Psychology at the Centre for Climate Justice; Patrick Grady MP; and Jaime Wright, PhD. Speakers addressed topics ranging from mental health to climate fiction (a subgenre of science fiction that engages climate change).

Ahead of the City of Glasgow hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), the biggest international summit the UK has ever hosted,CLIMATETALK aimed to sustain the important discussion on the world’s climate emergency and the responses to it.

Throughout the years, St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow has taken a leading role calling together influential voices on topics affecting our world. These have included Brexit and election seminars with Professor John Curtice, participation in the Interfaith ‘Big Picnic’ in Glasgow and continued public advocacy for LGBT+ causes. The Cathedral hopes CLIMATETALK adds to the discussion helping to shape action on this critical issue.

To view the podcasts from CLIMATETALK, visit climatetalk.thecathedral.org.uk. 
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Mural makes its mark


St John's Episcopal Church on Princes Street, Edinburgh, is well known for its display of murals on the side of the building. with social comment creating countless talking points for those passing by over the years.

To mark COP26, the latest mural by artist Greg Mitchell shows the Earth on fire alongside the words 'While you were talking'. The image attracted national media coverage through the Press Association.
Glasgow Churches Together - ecumenical action for COP26

Martin Johnstone, Glasgow Churches Together COP26 Ambassador writes for Inspires Online.

As Glasgow prepares to welcome the world to this ‘dear green place’ for COP26 – described by some as our “last best chance to save the planet” - churches across the city are doing myriad things to tackle climate justice.

In Colston Milton Church of Scotland the commitment is deep-rooted. The parish minister, Rev Christopher Rowe, writes:

“When I arrived at Colston Milton Parish Church in Glasgow's Milton Housing scheme in February 2008 we were worshipping in the original 1950s hall church, and the 1960s sanctuary had been sold to a developed for flats. The two buildings were joined by a link corridor, with some meeting rooms and toilets. It had a flat roof which leaked and was always freezing cold due to a lack of insulation and inefficient radiators. We decided to take down this corridor, and retain as much of the timber and stone and brick as possible, and in its place we created a courtyard garden, with raised beds where the former brick foundations had been, finished off with wood from the walls and ceiling and a cob pizza oven made on a base of stones which had been used as rubble under the steps. We imported 20 tonnes of soil enhancer, a by-product of water treatment from Scottish Water. We planted apple and pear trees and later learned that apparently more than 4 trees constitutes an orchard! Angela became the driving force behind the planting, which for the first decade of its life has been focused mainly on being productive - peas, carrots, chard, onions, beetroot, runner beans, potatoes as well as apples and pears. Harvest thanksgiving services became very hands on with the young people literally bringing in a wheelbarrow of fresh produce.”

For others, welcoming the world to Glasgow offers a unique opportunity. Rev Laurent Vernet from Woodlands Methodist Church writes: 

“During the COP, we will host a livestreamed lecture series with guest speakers who will have travelled to attend COP from Fiji, Italy, Uruguay, Zambia and other parts of the UK. Together, they have formed an international movement of young Methodists calling for Climate Justice For All (CJ4A). Bringing a global perspective to the effects of climate change, these young activists will bring home to each of us the impact already being felt on diverse communities. On the 7th November, our worship will connect up live with worship from Methodist Churches around the world. More details of what is happening can be found here.”

For others, of course, the journey is just beginning. And for them, and for any of us whether we are in Glasgow or not, there is a little bit of help available through Faith in Community Scotland. It’s director, Iain Johnston, explains a bit about its Greener Spaces, Fairer Places fund: 

“Local faith groups have been taking a lead on Climate Justice for many years, but with only a few weeks to go until people gather in Glasgow for COP26, we want to build on the opportunity before and after the conference to support Scotland’s faith group network in taking small scale local actions which address the link between climate change and poverty.

"Although people on low incomes and in other disadvantaged groups contribute least to causing climate change, they’re nevertheless the people who are most impacted by it. In many communities they also lead the way in raising awareness about the need for climate justice and inspiring others to take action.

"Grants of up to £500 are available for local action around the following themes:
  • More effective use of community land (e.g. using land to grow food, create a community garden)
  • Respecting the environment (e.g. organising a local clean-up, using buildings in a more eco-friendly way)
  • Local action on fuel poverty (e.g. awareness-raising event, supporting people in crisis)
  • Community mobilising (e.g. events in your community bringing people together on climate action; outdoor installations & recycling; banner/ poster-making to raise awareness)
"To apply, please use the online form on our website here."

One very specific thing that we would encourage churches to consider doing over the next few weeks is to make banners calling out for Climate Justice, and then bring these banners to Glasgow on the 6th November to be part of the Global Day of Action. Sign up to be part of the faiths & beliefs bloc here.
The Climate: a spiritual and moral crisis - Interfaith Scotland

Dr Maureen Sier, Director of Interfaith Scotland writes for Inspires Online

It would be impossible not to know that we are facing a crisis. It is often called the 'climate crisis' but I suspect that the climate is just doing what the climate does in response to what humanity is currently doing to the planet. Perhaps we are actually in the midst of a catastrophic spiritual and moral crisis caused by over-consumption, greed, injustice and a moribund system of governance that is failing to tackle the problem. 
 
Having said all that, as Director of Interfaith Scotland I have been honoured and privileged to work with people of faith from diverse backgrounds and have found their commitment to transformation in the face of the climate crisis and their commitment to work together to demand change has been breath-taking. 
 
At Interfaith Scotland we have made 2021 our 'Year of Climate Action' and we have committed to holding the majority of our events on topics related to the climate. For example, we have held a monthly Facebook live series called the Beyond series which looked at the climate crisis in diverse ways - The Climate Crisis: Beyond Politics, Beyond Religion, Beyond Science, Beyond Borders, Beyond the Next Generation, Beyond COP26 and Beyond Nations. At each event a panel of expert speakers from diverse faith backgrounds spoke with energy, vision and commitment. The purpose in calling this the Beyond series was to highlight that the climate crisis is beyond anything humanity has ever faced and only by working together, across diverse facets of life, can we hope to begin to tackle the problems we face.

Our Annual Interfaith Lecture was delivered by two speakers who are at the front line of experiencing the effects of the crisis, Fr Ben Ayodi (from Kenya) and Budi Tjahjono (from Indonesia). Their powerful testimonies moved everyone present. They demonstrated clearly that the climate crisis is also a human rights issue.
 
We have also made Scottish Interfaith Week 2021 entirely linked to COP26 with the theme being 'Together for our Planet'. This takes place during the first week of COP and the launch will be at George Square in Glasgow, with a prayer and meditation vigil at its heart. At the vigil, to be held on the first day of COP26, hundreds will gather to pray and meditate together, and the Glasgow Multi-Faith Declaration for COP26 will be read. This is a powerful document, crafted by the Scottish Religious Leaders' Forum with faith representatives also from the Church of England and across the UK. It demonstrates without equivocation that people of faith can come together with a loud and clear voice for change and social justice.
 
I feel that this article would need to be the length of a book to capture just some of the work that the faith communities of Scotland and beyond have undertaken to highlight the plight that humanity faces. COP26 has galvanised a massive movement, multi-faith and inclusive in nature, that is demanding of Governments that they honour their commitments made in Paris in 2015 and that they implement absolutely what is needed to make this planet, our world, a safe, secure and fair place for everyone - not just those living in the Global North. The voice of faith is loud and clear and will get louder the longer it is ignored.
 
'We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions' - Baha'i writings.
 
OnExploring the theology of Climate Crisis

The Rev Canon Nicholas Taylor, Convener of the Liturgy Committee writes for Inspires Online

Anticipation of COP26 has brought home the environmental and climate crisis we are facing. For us in Scotland, and especially in Glasgow, it is perhaps being brought home in particular ways. While the powerful are burning fossil fuels and depleting the ozone layer in order to make brief visits to Glasgow to be seen to be doing something, others have been working rather more consistently and conscientiously over many years to find ways in which human life on this planet can be made more sustainable.

Pope Francis made environmental issues central to his agenda with the publication of Laudato Si’ in 2015. Patriarch Demetrios of Constantinople, spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, had proclaimed 1 September a day of prayer for creation in 1989. His successor, Patriarch Bartholomew, has actively continued to address environmental issues in both Christian and inter-faith fora. Other Christian denominations have been rather slower than their supposedly more conservative ecumenical partners, both to recognise the scale of the environmental crisis, and to acknowledge that some traditions of Protestant theology have contributed to exploitative attitudes to the planet, its resources, and its people in industrialised societies, capitalist and communist alike.

The Church of England Board of Social Responsibility had published a report: "Man in his living environment as long ago as 1970." The wording of the title is now somewhat dated, but it represents an early attempt at engagement between theology and the biological sciences, and recognises the ecological consequences of human dominance over the environment. During the ensuing decades, Anglican Christians around the world have faced the environmental crisis in their own societies, and increasingly recognised the inextricable links between social and economic justice, gender, and race issues and the global crisis with which we are confronted with increasing urgency. In 1990 the Anglican Consultative Council adopted the fifth mark of mission: to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth. After discussion at the 1998 Lambeth Conference and the 1999 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Dundee, the Anglican Communion Environmental Network was formalised by resolution of the Anglican Consultative Council in 2002. A mission partner of this Church, the Rev. Canon Dr Rachel Mash, Environmental Coordinator for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, has played a very significant role in the development of its work.

Since General Synod 2019, environmental issues have come into sharper focus in the life of our Church, impacting immediately investment policies at Provincial level, and perhaps less immediately at diocesan and congregational levels. While there has been no substantial theological report emanating from this Church, the Church in Society Committee has responded to more narrowly focused issues, sometimes in consultation with the Doctrine Committee. The coronavirus pandemic, and the ecological factors precipitating it, received some attention in the issue of the SEI Journal which represents our initial responses to aspects of that crisis. Another issue of the Journal has focused more narrowly on our response to the environmental and climate crisis. The Doctrine Committee and others meanwhile published the book Made in the Image of God, several chapters of which reflected on the place of humanity in the created order.

Given how central worship is to our life as a Church, it is perhaps surprising that we have been so slow to follow the example of some ecumenical partners and other Anglican Provinces in introducing a Season of Creation. But, once the principle was agreed by the Faith and Order Board, the Liturgy Committee set to work, and the material for the Eucharist and the Daily Offices was authorised for experimental use by the College of Bishops within a few months, in time for the Season we have just completed. This has been a process not simply of lifting texts from Scripture or of cobbling together resources of miscellaneous origin, and certainly not of inventing doctrine. Reading and reflecting on Scripture, and identifying passages which give vivid expression to what we believe, about God and creation, and our place in creation, has certainly been important. The examples of those who have preceded us in this exercise has been valuable. But this has been above all a theological exercise, simultaneously traditional and creative. It is undoubtedly an exercise that has not yet come to its completion: as the worshipping Body of Christ offers worship to God, and both celebrates creation and reflects with penitence, thanksgiving, and renewed commitment to our vocation within it, we should expect further insights to emerge, new – and perhaps old – ways of giving expression to our faith to occur, and these to be reflected in revisions to our liturgies during the coming years. It will also be interesting to see, and important to reflect upon, ways in which material produced within and for the SEC is adopted and amended in other Provinces and by our ecumenical partners.

In the meanwhile, what we express in our worship must be reflected in our lives, and this is a task which will continue long after the carbon dioxide generated by COP26 will have dissipated over Glasgow.
 

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Christian Aid: on campaigning and praying for climate justice


Joyce Mhango was four months pregnant when the cyclone destroyed her home in Malawi. She and her husband did not have enough money to both rebuild their house and eat. Faced with an unenviable choice, they moved to a displacement camp. Joyce said: “It was hard to find food. I couldn’t even earn enough money to take me to the hospital for my routine check-ups. We were miserable, just trying to survive.”

Joyce and three million other people were affected by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Fierce winds, heavy rains and widespread flooding ripped apart roads, houses, schools and health facilities, and submerged vast swathes of agricultural land.

The flooding in southern Malawi was particularly severe and pushed a large number of people into poverty and food insecurity. With homes, crops and livestock destroyed, many people were left without shelter, income or food. People living in poverty battled the worst of a climate crisis they did not create. 

Climate change changes lives. It destroys people’s hopes and expectations for the future. It makes life unbearably hard. It is one of the greatest injustices people face. 

Our Christian Aid partners came alongside those, like Joyce, who were left most vulnerable after the cyclone. We encouraged people to receive training in vocational skills such as tailoring, welding or carpentry. This resilience work has been a lifeline for Joyce. 

Over the course of three months, Joyce learned to be a tailor. The scheme provided her with the equipment she needed to set up a small tailoring business. Joyce now earns a reliable income and is able to support her family. “If it wasn’t for this organisation helping me to develop tailoring skills I wouldn’t have been a happy person," she said. "Today I am financially independent and am able to do things for myself.” 

As COP26 approaches, let us keep God’s vision of a more just world in our mind’s eye and hope in our hearts. Let us stand together, raising our voices in prayer and petition to create lasting change before it is too late.

To get involved in campaigning and praying for climate justice, check out Christian Aid resources.

What can you do for COP26
Every moment matters and every prayer and action counts in the fight for climate justice. Here are five ideas to get you ready for COP26.
  • Get creative! Call for climate justice by making a paper prayer boat. Display your prayer boat in your window or your church, and add your voice to the thousands around the world demanding climate action from decision-makers. Download our #RiseToTheMoment activity pack from our website.
  • Support the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) relay. The relay arrives in Scotland on 15 October and continues across the country via Dunbar and Edinburgh to Glasgow. Pray, walk or wave to show your support. See the entire route and find out more here.
  • Watch a film with your family and friends. Thank You for the Rain tells the story of Kisilu, a smallholder farmer in Kenya who uses his camera to capture the life of his family, and the human costs of climate change. The film is a rare and personal insight into the realities of the climate crisis and it is a call to action to all who care about God’s creation. Download the film at christianaid.org.uk/news/thank-you-rain 
  • Write a letter to the world. Climate change will have a huge impact on the future of our young people. Encourage them to send an inspirational message to their decision makers. Why not make this a Sunday School activity? You’ll find resources here.
  • Save the date. The main day of action, including a demonstration in Glasgow, will be 6 November. Plans may change depending on coronavirus precautions. But we will keep you updated on the latest plans as soon as we can. https://www.christianaid.org.uk/get-involved-campaigns/climate-change/cop26-mobilisation
  • Look out for our Protest Art! Glasgow artist, ID Campbell has painted Joyce for an exhibition entitled ‘Protest Art: a Lament in Black Paint’. The paintings will appear at Kelvingrove from 11-25 October and will then tour Glasgow until the end of COP26.

Image: Joyce Mhango, 25, tailoring a customer's dress, with other dresses that she has made in the background, in Mbande, Chikwawa District, Southern Malawi, in March 2021. Credit: Christian Aid/ Malumbo Simwaka
The text in this newsletter can be freely shared. Any photographs can be shared only with permission of the photographer. Please contact inspires@scotland.anglican.org for details of permission.

Please encourage others to sign up for these regular e-mails at www.scotland.anglican.org.

Comments and feedback are always welcome and can be directed to Donald Walker, Director of Communications at dwalker@scotland.anglican.org, or Aidan Strange, Digital Communications Co-ordinator at aidans@scotland.anglican.org.

Please note that the views expressed on websites linked in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Published by the General Synod of The Scottish Episcopal Church – Scottish Charity Number SC015962
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