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Should your church declare a climate emergency?

Find out what a climate declaration is and hear from the chuches who have already made one.

The climate emergency declaration map shows the churches across the UK who are committed to taking climate action.


Could your church declare a climate emergency? More than 100 churches have told us they’ve done it!


And if you are perusing the Climate Emergency Toolkit website then perhaps you are also interested in your church formally declaring, recognising or acknowledging the climate emergency? In this blog, we’ll hear from a few of the churches who’ve done this about why they considered it important.


 

What is a declaration?

A declaration, recognition or acknowledgement of the climate emergency is a clear, public and formal announcement. By recognising the climate emergency, you’re communicating to your members and wider community that your church understands the urgency of climate change and commits to taking action. It also invites your community to join you on that journey.


 


Hope Church Harrogate: A statement of intent


Hope Harrogate describe themselves as a diverse family of people who love Jesus and love Harrogate. They declared a climate emergency in 2021, about the time of COP26.


This short video from Hope Harrogate’s leader Adam Price explains how he and his church started taking environmental action.


Tim Larner, one of their eco team, has also been a key player. He explains: ‘We decided on our first Climate Sunday, where we focused on the significance of climate as a justice issue, that it was important to clearly signal our intentions as a church by declaring a climate emergency. Driven by conviction that it was a gospel imperative to take climate change seriously as a whole church and as a group of committed individuals and households, we needed to plan and implement changes. We were inspired by the Tearfund materials and influenced by other churches who had already taken this step. Climate change is not just an issue for those who consider themselves to be environmentalists, but part of the outworking of our faith. And faith requires works, so we continue to encourage all our members to make small lifestyle changes to help mitigate climate change, and to be generous to those who suffer most from our actions as relatively high-carbon emitters. We're all on a journey – long way to go, but we've made a start.’


Hope Church in Harrogate declared a climate emergency in 2021.


Chapel Allerton Baptist Church: Because of our young people


Simon Hall, minister at this church in Leeds, describes his church’s journey so far. ‘Chapel A is a medium-sized church with around a third of our community under 18. With so many young people in our church, we wanted to listen to their concerns and demonstrate to them that the gospel speaks to every area of life. It became clear to us that a church that wasn't addressing the climate crisis wouldn't have the respect of the rising generation.


‘We had already addressed climate concerns in an ad hoc way, but COP26 focused our attention. We decided that we would create our own climate declaration in partnership with all the churches in our neighbourhood and launch it through a joint stall at our community's “village fair”. It was wonderful to see people of all ages staffing the stall and then just a few weeks later marching together to make our views known. The toolkit has provided a shape to our progress, for which we are grateful.’


St Edmund’s Church, Crickhowell: Thinking and acting locally and globally


Kerry Andrews, a member of St Edmund’s Eco Church Group, explains how individuals’ concerns sparked a wider movement. ‘St Edmund’s Church plays an important part in the community of Crickhowell, a small town situated amongst the eastern hills of Bannau Brycheiniog (The Brecon Beacons National Park). A couple of the congregation had become concerned that climate change was rapidly advancing and affecting many areas of the world, including an extensive local flood due to Storm Dennis.


‘In 2021 we set up an Eco Church Group and, using the Climate Emergency Toolkit, set about declaring the climate emergency. Some felt it was a bit too audacious a statement for a church in a small rural town to make, but we had just heard that our diocese, members of the church governing body, were about to make this statement and pledge to become net-zero by 2030. So, we felt that we should follow their example and take this bold step to show that we recognise the urgency of climate change and are serious about making a difference.’


Since then, they have involved many members of the church and community in climate action and gained both their bronze and silver Eco Church awards.

You can read more about what they're working on on their church website.


Could your church join them?


Declaring, recognising or acknowledging the climate emergency is a very good first step in action on climate change. Or, if your church is already taking action, it’s a brilliant way of signalling this to a wider audience.


If you want to know more about why recognising the climate emergency is core to the church's mission, then Mark Powley’s blog is a great read. And if you have any questions or you’d like to tell your story of declaring a climate emergency, please contact us on info@climateemergencytoolkit.com!


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