Letter from a Member of the Ministry Team. Iffley Parish Magazine, February 2021.
This week I joined a zoom meeting arranged by an organisation called Green Christian (https://greenchristian.org.uk). Green Christian, styles itself a community of ordinary Christians in extraordinary times, and has been around for some time. It has a good website. What startled me was the number of people who had turned up for this zoom meeting: scores of people from parishes across the country to discuss how the church can reach net zero carbon. For me this is a sign of hope and I am searching for green shoots of hope in these dark and extraordinary times.
Now well into our third lockdown, we are reaping the results of poor decisions in public health. But hope has begun to return with the prospect of vaccination on a scale and at a pace which we have never seen before in this country. That’s another green shoot.
On the international stage, Donald Trump seems to have finally accepted his defeat and that is a whole field of green shoots just there! It means, among many things, that the Paris Agreement (to mitigate the effects of climate change) is likely to have the powerful support of Biden’s America in getting back on track.
So what is happening in Iffley, Rosehill and Donnington? How do we respond to the growing church-wide surge of interest in environmental issues? What is our commitment to act in the face of the climate crisis, as the focus on the pandemic begins to loosen its iron hold in 2021?
The scores of people meeting online this week is a reflection of a wider movement which stems from a resolution at the Anglican Synod at the beginning of last year to achieve the target of zero carbon by 2030. This commitment is for all parts of the Church of England, particularly parishes, to achieve year on year reductions in carbon emissions. The resolution stresses that we need to urgently examine the steps required to create a plan of action to achieve the target of net zero carbon by 2030.
What is net zero carbon?
Carbon dioxide is produced in virtually everything we do day by day: in our homes, in what we eat, in the ways that we travel and in the ways that we spend our time. Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming and climate change. The total greenhouse gas emissions we produce day by day, week by week, can be pictured as a human footprint. Each of us has a carbon footprint which is part of a bigger footprint: our family’s footprint, our church and community, and ultimately our country’s footprint. It is these greenhouse gas emissions which at a global level are throwing the balance of the natural world. So our carbon footprints individually and collectively have become a vital part of the response to the climate crisis. Achieving a net zero target of CO2 emissions initially means making a huge reduction. In this we all have a part to play in our commitment as Christians to care for creation.
How can we find out more about these carbon footprints? How big is mine? How big is the carbon footprint of the parish? There are several resources to help work out the answers to these questions. The Eco Church group (in conjunction with several low carbon groups across Oxford) is setting up a series of online learning events and workshops each month from February onwards to help people make their own choices and decide how they will contribute to this gathering effort.
The PCC will be considering a motion at its first meeting of 2021, to support the Eco Church Working Group in improving the environmental sustainability of the church and in developing action plans in line with the wider church commitments outlined here.
Here is a New Year Prayer from the Green Christian website for our church as we address these huge challenges.
New Year Prayer
God as this new year dawns,
Let us not be blinded by the world’s darkness.
Or consumed by paralyzing fear.
Let us remember,
From darkness you bring forth light,
Out of winter’s death you give birth to life.
Let us remember,
That which is dormant will spring to life,
That which is pruned will spout new strength.
Let us remember,
You are the light that gives us sight,
You are the breath that gives us life,
You are the water that quenches thirst.
(First part of Christine Sine’s New Year prayer)
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