Climate change: what faith groups can do

Christine Goodgame-Nobes sends an article from Marigold Bentley of the Quaker Committee for Christian & Interfaith Relations (QCCIR), under the heading Quakers, churches and sustainability in Quaker Week. “I think it deserves a wider audience,” she says.

Dorchester Quakers decided to mark Quaker week by inviting and hosting Lindsey Fielder Cook of the Quaker UN Office Geneva and the Bishop of Salisbury Nick Holtham to Dorchester.  Nick is the lead Bishop for Climate Change and sits in the House of Lords. He is very involved in the Eco church movement. Lindsey spent time with Friends from across the AQM on Sunday and then joined with the Bishop for presentations and questions from the local state school sixth form ( several hundred students attended in their lunch break).  Lindsey and Nick then gave a presentation in Dorchester Baptist Church under Churches Together which attracted about 200 people on a very wet evening.  Many had travelled quite a distance in this rural area.  A special display table had been provided for Extinction Rebellion and in addition to the Q&A from the formal part of the evening,  there were lots of informal conversations afterwards.  

There are a huge range of views about how to tackle the climate crisis and oldies like me (I worked at QUNO New York in 1989 when Margaret Thatcher claimed the important role the UK was going to have in tackling climate change) constantly ask why, when we knew so much about the problem all those years ago, has it taken so long to take it seriously.  The overall message was that we need to engage with new ways of being, but must not be complacent.  Young people are rightly holding older generations to account and we all need to do more.  Lifestyle and consumption have to change and we were reminded that a faithful life is one which is in right relationship with other living things.

In 2016 Lindsey and I organised two off the record interfaith lunches in London for members of the International Panel on Climate Change to meet with faith leaders and talk and listen about belief, attitude change.  QPSW staff hope to run more of those types of events.  QUNO Geneva run confidential lunches for diplomats to discuss difficult issues on a regular basis.  Both Nick and Lindsey recount how hard many diplomats and governments are working on this subject but that we need to hold them to account and there is always more to be done.  Unlike so many events and actions on sustainability I have engaged with over the years, Monday evening was really exciting. We left with a feeling that as churches and faiths we can all participate in the change which has to come about.   

Dorchester Quakers invited Lindsey Fielder Cook of QUNO Geneva and the Bishop of Salisbury Nick Holtham to Dorchester

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