I get to talk with alot of young people in a variety of contexts. It is interesting that often the first thing on their mind is the issue of Climate Change. Only this week one of my 25 year old friends reflected on their life in 5 year lots. You can see their change from a place of hope to one of deep concern and despair. As they list off at each 5 year point the changes in the world, including the carbon dioxide levels, how many plants and animals are facing extinction and the impact of wealth and greed, I too despair with them. As they say.. Prayer and being kind – doesn’t cut it any more. The biggest concern I hear from young people is that they feel like adults and “the Church” doesn’t care or can’t be bothered.
This of course is not true, but how do we include children and young people in the actions and conversations we have? What if we were to enter into the season of creation as a season of discipline, like our season of Lent. Not only could we weekly explore and celebrate what we love about the world but we could put into action ways to make a difference to our planet. What if we were to do this not only as individuals but also as congregations and invite people from the community to join us.
What could you do?
Commit to a meat free meal once a week, or more if you already do this. As a congregation you could get everyone to put together your favourite animal free recipes and create a recipe book. Sell it or just share it with your neighbours.
Plant a tree, as a congregation you could join a bush regeneration group. Plant some more trees on your Church property or reach out to the council to see where they could use some help.
Intentionally set up car pooling or alternative transport as a community.
Have a Sunday where you are learning key issues together about Climate Change. Who in your congregation or community has some knowledge in this area? Could there be a different person each week. Could you host a guest lecture series for people in the community to attend?
Reuse and recycle – There are so many great opportunities to do repair cafe’s where people learn how to mend and fix things rather than needing to buy new. Are there people in your congregation who know how to do this? If not could you learn some of those things together? Use your local buy swap sell page so that items you don’t need anymore can go to someone who needs it and not end up in landfill. I heard once of a recycled fashion night, where people could bring their good clothes that they don’t need anymore and can swap them for others. This is particularly great for kids. Maybe you could partner with the local school to really make this worthwhile.
Have a letter writing campaign to write to your local member, or even get them to come and have a community forum to talk around issues of Climate Change.
Plan to reduce your energy consumption, make a covenant together of one thing you are going to give up to see that reduction last.
Has your congregation worked towards the Five leaf Eco Awards?
The Five Leaf Eco-Awards are an Australian ecumenical environmental change program specifically designed for churches and religious organisations. Using a series of non-competitive awards the program assists, inspires and rewards faith communities for taking environmental action and becoming more sustainable in response to God’s call to care for creation.
The Five Leaf Eco-Awards encourage holistic environmental action environment covering five areas: Buildings, Worship, Congregation, Outreach, Community Leadership.
Check out the website for more information : https://fiveleafecoawards.org/
We are called by God to care!
When we think of our relationship to the earth from a Christian perspective God has called us to be stewards and caretakers of the earth. The push of consumerism is so intoxicating that it can be hard to see past the need to keep the economy moving! The earth is not here for us to consume but to cohabitate and take care of.
What action will your community take this season to show our young people that they are not alone in this concern or in the commitment to make a difference? We would love to hear your stories!
Karen Mitchell-Lambert is ordained in the ministry of Deacon and is the team leader of PULSE.