Make your climate change commitment this Lent

Living Lent, the cross-denominational Lent initiative from the Joint Public Issues Team, is back for another year. Running throughout the 40 days of Lent, from Wednesday 26 February until Thursday 9 April, Living Lent will once again invite all Christians to commit to changing their lifestyles for the climate by signing up for one of the six challenges.

Woman riding bicycle

Those who sign up are encouraged to pick a challenge that will stretch them – such as choosing an alternative mode of travel or only buying locally-sourced food.

JPIT hopes that, by making these commitments alongside one-another, Christians will be able to explore the connection between faith and climate action.

“Lent is about living daily with reminders of the sacrifices Christ made as He journeyed towards the cross and the empty tomb,” Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, convener for the Faith Impact Forum, said.

“Living Lent offers options from which participants can choose what might help to turn eyes outwards as we remember the One who so unselfishly gave His all for the world.”

How you can make a difference

Here are some ideas for how you can take part in Living Lent:

  • Switch to buying loose fruit and vegetables rather than pre-packaged.
  • Give up your takeaway coffee cup – instead, remember and pack a reusable cup in the mornings.
  • Switch up your lightbulbs to more energy-efficient alternatives – LED bulbs are the most energy-efficient, using 75% less electricity than traditional incandescent lightbulbs.
  • If you can, opt for walking, cycling, public transport or lift-sharing over taking your car. If you can’t give up your car, look into carbon offsetting to help balance out the environmental impact.

How your church can make a difference

There are lots of ideas for how church groups can take part in Living Lent. Here is some inspiration:

  • Why not make your Ash Wednesday service eco-themed? At a time where Christians think about how we came from the earth and how we will return to the earth once again at the end of our lives, it is a chance to focus on how our own behaviours and lifestyles contribute to the environmental challenges we face. To help make a start, JPIT have produced a guide to service ideas on their website.
  • Hold a Living Lent pancake party. Get your congregation together to launch the Living Lent initiative with a pancake party on Shrove Tuesday – you can even calculate your pancake topping ‘miles’ using the JPIT Pancake Party guide.
  • Incorporate prayers for the earth into your weekly prayer meetings. Prayer brings us into deeper relationship with God, ourselves and others and it has a way of forming us in the depth of who we are. As we approach climate change we need this depth of transformation and the power of the Holy Spirit to challenge our sinful structures.
  • Go single-use plastic free. Do you use plastic cups, straws and spoons as part of your church activities? Work with your congregation to spot the places where this happens and switch to reusable options where possible.

Driving a car emits, on average, about 271 g CO2 per kilometre. Whereas, in total, riding a bike accounts for only about 21g ofCO2 emissions per kilometre – Living Lent.

Make your pledge

To sign up to take on the challenge, go to the Living Lent sign-up page and you will receive daily emails throughout the 40 days, which will share resources, devotional materials, blog posts and much more.

You can also keep up to date with the Living Lent initiative by following them on Twitter or by joining their Facebook group.

The Joint Public Issues Team is made up of Church of Scotland, the Baptist Union, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church, working together for peace and justice.

They work to: equip Christians to act and pray on issues of injustice; resource churches to reflect and campaign effectively; and help churches to speak out with a distinctively Christian voice on injustice.

Moderator invites congregations to take part in Thy Kingdom Come

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, is today sending a letter out to all Kirk congregations inviting them to take part in this year’s Thy Kingdom Come prayer initiative. Thy Kingdom Come is a global ecumenical prayer movement which will run from Ascension Day on 21 May to Pentecost Sunday on 31 May. Below, we are sharing his letter in full.

Rt Rev Colin Sinclair pictured during Thy Kingdom Come in 2019
Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, pictured during last year’s Thy Kingdom Come Beacon Event, encourages all our churches to Pledge2Pray or organise an event for this year’s prayer initiaitve. 

Dear All,

Thy Kingdom Come is a global, ecumenical prayer movement which takes place each year from Ascension to Pentecost. Christians are encouraged to pray for more people to come to faith during these 11 days of prayer. This will be its fifth year.

From Bangladesh to Brazil, Australia to Austria, and South Africa to the Solomon Islands, more than two million Christians, across 65 different denominations and traditions, in 90% of countries worldwide have participated.

Ruth and I had the privilege of attending and participating in the 2019 Thy Kingdom Come Beacon Event in Trafalgar Square. The square was packed and we found it very moving that three Archbishops (Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox) could stand side by side and pray for our country. Senior leaders from the emergency services also shared items for prayer.

In 2019 the app was downloaded thousands of times in almost 100 countries worldwide – more than twice as many as in 2018.

In their annual feedback survey, the organisers found that:

  • 92% of those taking part were praying for friends and family members to come to know Jesus – with nearly two thirds (62%) of this group planning to follow up or talk to the people they were praying for;
  • 70% of those who took part felt more encouraged to share their faith;
  • 40% of respondents took part for the first time this year – which shows this is still very much a growing movement;
  • 99% want to be involved again in 2020, the same figure as last year – demonstrating growth and value.

The Church of Scotland and the Scottish Episcopal Church are both officially involved with Thy Kingdom Come. Resources were distributed widely and a prayer diary was translated into Gaelic.

HRH The Queen praised Thy Kingdom Come as an example of the close working together of the Church of England and Church of Scotland.

It also enables local congregations to share in a global Kingdom-focussed initiative

This year Thy Kingdom Come will begin in the week of the General Assembly and we hope it will be marked in some suitable way.

Can I ask you to consider signing up to Pledge2Pray as an individual and as a church in order that together we will see God’s Kingdom Come.

Equally, if you are considering organising an event can I encourage you to sign up.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and please do consider how you might be involved where you are.

Wishing you every blessing,

Rt Rev Colin Sinclair,

Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Congregations at vanguard of climate change advocacy

Church congregations have an important role in convincing people of the dangers posed by climate change, a leading campaigner said today.

Rev Henrik Grape of the World Council of Churches said activists would help bring about a more just and equitable future for communities.

He spoke during a visit to Glasgow to prepare for the UN Climate Change Conference (CoP26) in November.

Flooding farmer
A young farmer takes shelter under his bed and watches the floods.

Mr Grape, accompanied by Rev Dr Peter Pavlovic of the Conference of European Churches and others, has met representatives from a wide range of organisations including Christian Aid, Interfaith Scotland and the Scottish Government.

The men have visited Glasgow Cathedral where an ecumenical service could be held during COP26 and plan to meet with officials from Glasgow City Council and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, which the Church is a member of.

Human on this earth

Mr Grape, convener of WCC’s working Group on climate change, said: “We are in Glasgow because we want to co-ordinate faith groups for the COP 56 later this year.

“Climate change has an impact on nearly everything.

“It is the most important issue for the world today and for the coming year.

“It affects the economy, the way we live and our understanding of what it means to be human on this earth.

“That is why faith communities must step into this discussion to bring about a more just and equitable future.”

Rev Henrik Grape Rev Dr Peter Pavlovic
Rev Dr Peter Pavlovic and Rev Henrik Grape

The World Council of Churches, which is headquartered in Switzerland, believes that the present world development model is destroying biodiversity and threatening the lives and livelihoods of many, especially among the world’s poorest people.

The two men were accompanied by Adrian Shaw, climate change officer for the Church of Scotland which says climate change represents a failure in man’s stewardship of God’s creation.

Scottish Government ministers have set a legally binding target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest with Scotland becoming carbon neutral by 2040.

Collective action

Dr Pavlovic said: “Churches are well placed to be in daily contact with people on a grassroots level to convince them that the impact of climate change is an issue of daily life.

“They are important players and through their advocacy and their message they can contribute significantly to reducing carbon emissions.

“We hope that COP in Glasgow will help people understand that the forum, which involves around 200 nations, functions well and nations can respect each other, talk to each other and come to reasonable action.

“If at the end of this COP we have the results that are translated into daily life, this is something we need and want to achieve.”