18 July 2022
UK charity Green Christian:
- Encourages churches to offer “cool rooms” in this week’s heatwave
- Calls for ministerial training to be updated for emerging pastoral challenges
- Offers a Climate Café on Sunday for reflection, discernment and action
The environmental charity Green Christian is asking Christians to “read the signs of the times” as the UK witnesses extreme temperatures this week. It congratulates churches which have opened ‘cool sanctuaries’ for rough sleepers and vulnerable people during the heatwave, and are calling on churches to prepare for wider pastoral impacts as the climate emergency unfolds. The charity is offering resources including a Climate Café, on Sunday 24 July and a workshop on Thursday 28 July.
Pudsey Parish Church, West Yorkshire is among the congregations which responded to the heat emergency this week, advertising the church as a “cool sanctuary” as a creative response to a call to action from Leeds Public Health. Churches in Nottinghamshire were among those asked to open for rough sleepers, who are among the most vulnerable to extreme weather. Green Christian has published an advice note on “cool churches”.
Paul Bodenham, who co-ordinates the charity’s Borrowed Time project, said: “We know that heatwaves are set to get more intense, not to mention the wider impacts of food insecurity, migration, political instability and ill-health. We mustn’t delay getting off fossil fuels. But vulnerable communities are already being hit hard, especially in the Global South. In the UK eco-anxiety is a daily reality for the majority of young people. In the coming years mission is going to have to look a whole lot different. Our churches need to be ready to help society navigate the future, and that work must start now”.
As well as backing the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, which calls for more urgent action, the charity has published Deep Waters, an eight-session series to help people understand and respond to the growing emotional and spiritual impacts of climate change. The materials are available online for church groups to use. A forthcoming programme, Cloud and Fire, will map out the implications of climate de-stabilisation for pastoral care and training.
In the meantime a Climate Café on 24 July will offer space to meet with others, and take turns expressing how we feel about climate and ecological breakdown. On Thursday 28 July a workshop will explore how the reality of climate change challenges pastoral care, ministry and mission, and how churches should respond.