Disastrous climate report calls for church action; UCC offers ways to respond
The world has just received its most urgent warning yet about rising temperatures and the suffering they will cause. Earth’s climate continues to erode faster than expected, a United Nations panel said in a February 28 report.
But there is still time to limit the blackout, and believers can help, church leaders said.
“Vulnerable and poor people are at the very center of our mission and work as churches and people of faith,” says Reverend Ioan SaucaActing Secretary General of the world council of churches. “…We are not true to our vocation as Christians if we do not do everything possible to prevent the global temperature from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
What churches can do
“The role of churches right now is not just to raise awareness and change our consumption habits,” said Reverend Brooks Berndt, environmental justice minister for the United Church of Christ. “We can and should do these things. But at the same time, the role we need most is the prophetic role. This role, he said, requires “public action to confront those in power.”
“Today, Congress is the institution that has the power to act on the scale necessary to address this crisis,” Berndt said. “They are the ones we have to face.”
Current opportunities for the CCU to plan and take action include:
- Earth-action webinars on March 23, April 13 and April 23
- A national climate summit from March 28 to 31
- A new internship, with applications until March 15
Church resources are also available for Earth Day (April 22), Earth Sunday (April 24), and Faith Climate Action Week (April 22-May 1).
Here’s some info on it all. More information on the latest UN statement appears below.
Current online opportunities
Three opportunities to learn, speak and plan are offered by UCC Environmental Justice Ministries and its partners:
Climate Summit, March 28-31
Another online resource is the US Climate Leadership Summit. UCC is again a major sponsor of the annual event. It will take place live online March 28-31. Speakers will include two UCC ministers:
- The Rev. Jim Antala UCC special climate adviser, will speak on Tuesday, March 29and again Thursday, March, 31st. This last speech will take place during a section of the summit entitled “National Faith + Climate Forum”.
- The Rev. Otis Moss IIIchicago senior pastor Trinity UCCwill also address the March, 31st faith and climate forum.
Earth Month Actions
In addition to the opportunities above, UCC Environment Ministries recently suggested “four things your church can do to celebrate the earth.” Three are in the webinar descriptions above:
A fourth is to “focus on children” by participating in Faith Climate Action Week, April 22–May 1. Sponsored annually by Interfaith Power and Light, its theme this year is “Sacred Trust: Our Children’s Right to a Viable Future”. According to the IPL website, the week focuses each year on “how we can all take action to protect our climate”.
Opening of the climate exchange
A new two-year full-time fellowship in Environmental Justice is open within the UCC National Framework. The position has a specific, action-oriented objective.
According to the fellowship’s online description, whoever assumes the position will be “dedicated to developing and implementing a national program that encourages, supports and equips members of the local church to take public action in their congressional districts with the ultimate goal of passing climate legislation.”
People can get more information and apply online here. The application deadline, originally set for March 2, has been extended to March 15, 2022.
What the report says
The February 28 UN statement came from its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It offered hundreds of pages of detailed science – and pointed warnings.
“The cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health,” a 36-page summary noted. “Any further delay” in global action “will lose a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all.”
UN Secretary General António Guterres called the report “an atlas of human suffering and a damning condemnation of failed climate leadership.”
“With fact upon fact, this report reveals just how much people and the planet are being beset by climate change,” he said. “Almost half of humanity lives in the danger zone – now.” And “the world’s most vulnerable” will continue to be hardest hit, he said.
An urgent “moral language”
“Climate advocates have observed that this report differs from previous reports in its notable use of moral language of ‘fairness’ and ‘justice,'” Berndt said. “The climate crisis can no longer be seen outside the context of who has power and who does not.
“We are not just talking about a scientific problem requiring technological solutions. We are talking about a problem of social change requiring prophetic action – action that confronts the kings and pharaohs of our time.
“There is no excuse for waiting to transform our world and chart a just, sustainable and climate-resilient path into the future,” said WCC leader Sauca. “The urgent call for climate justice is a cry from the Earth and the poor. We must listen to these cries.
“Now is the time to turn rage into action,” said António Guterres. “Every fraction of a degree counts. Every voice can make a difference. And every second counts.
United Church of Christ News