It’s a little over a month to go before world leaders meet in Glasgow for COP26 – the UN Climate Change Conference.
COP26 and the Season of Creation
We will mark this five week Season of Creation by sharing stories of how our cathedrals are safeguarding creation and striving to be good stewards of God’s earth.
The fifth mark of mission of the Anglican communion is:
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth and this is at the heart of the mission and ministry of all our cathedrals.
And this year, as leaders from 196 countries get ready for this major environmental summit in November following last month’s stark warning from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that described global warming as a “code red for humanity“, many of our cathedrals have renewed their efforts to be eco-churches.
Almost half of all the 42 Church of England Cathedrals have achieved an Eco Church Award by the Christian charity, A Rocha UK – including one gold and seven silvers – and most of them are registered for the Eco Church programme that works for the protection and restoration of the natural world and is committed to equipping Christians and churches to care for the environment.
Some of our cathedrals have solar panels, others electric vehicles, we have planted wildlife meadows and woodlands, we’ve created bug hotels in our grounds to encourage diversity, have compostable waste, and two of our cathedrals have bee hives on their roofs and collect and sell honey.
There’s artwork in Norwich Cathedral celebrating the natural world and the polluting effects of plastic as part of the Dippy on Tour exhibition which includes a host of events around safeguarding creation.
Ely Cathedral held its first Green Fair last month, Chelmsford Cathedral held its first online conference on Greening the Church and has its own dedicated Facebook group. Truro Cathedral has appointed a Canon for Creation Care with specific responsibility for caring for creation and being part of the eco church journey with its diocese, and Wakefield Cathedral took inspiration as it hosted Luke Jerram’s art installation, Gaia, to launch its first Green Policy – a twelve point action plan to tackle climate change through recycling, education, promoting care for biodiversity and wildlife in the community.
York Minster has just announced a special season of services, events and webinar debates to highlight the global climate and environment emergency and tomorrow (7 September) a section of a 1.5mile long scarf will go on display in the Minster.
The scarf is being created by the Stitches for Survival crafts movement for the COP 26 negotiators and is symbolic of the catastrophic impact of a 1.5 degree increase in the earth’s temperature.
The scarf contains messages for the negotiators and leaders urging them to take meaningful action for climate justice and will be displayed in the Minster from 7 September until 29 September before continuing on its journey to Glasgow for the summit.
Walkers from the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) are due to arrive at the Minster on 20 September for a special Evensong Service. The group, part of a UK churches’ pilgrimage relay to the COP26 summit, want to encourage young Christians across the country to connect and campaign for climate justice. The YCCN pilgrimage relay route includes 10 ‘residency’ cities (Exeter, Bristol, Reading, London, Birmingham, Manchester, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow) plus stops in smaller locations on the way.
Canon Maggie McLean, Canon Missioner at York Minster said: “There can be no doubt that the global climate emergency is the most serious challenge of all time and it is getting closer and closer to home.
“We have put together this season of events and special services to reflect on the climate challenges we face together and explore how we can respond faithfully through prayer and action.
“Speakers from across the world will consider our place in creation, explore theologies of creation and will consider the climate emergency as the primary justice issue of our age.”
The Season of Creation is five weeks in the annual church calendar, from 1st September to 4th October, dedicated to God as Creator and Sustainer of all lifeand you can find resources and more on the Church of England website here: https://www.churchofengland.org/about/environment-and-climate-change/season-creation
A Prayer for COP26 read by the Dean of Chichester, under the Museum of the Moon at Chichester Cathedral.