I recently attended Love the Earth, a climate change focused event in Edinburgh. There was only a small group of us, but that made discussion easier. The first session was led by Liz Marsh, looking at ecology in liturgy. It was interesting reading liturgy written specifically about climate change! We had some critical reflections about this and hoped that if it were re-written now (it was a few years old) the language would be much stronger. I particularly liked the idea of viewing the Earth as sacrament and what that might mean for us. We discussed how climate change fits in the eucharist; as a Quaker who rarely attends communion, I found it interesting to hear about the importance of this in other traditions. Rev. David Coleman, an Eco-chaplain, talked about the Christian response to climate change, which as far as the church as an organisation goes has been very limited. I enjoyed the liturgy he used from the Iona Community. Respect for and relationship with the environment comes through strongly in Celtic Christianity which I really appreciate. This session really highlighted the gravity of the situation and the importance of acting now.
After a pescatarian lunch (and a much needed walk!) Elinor Bracken led a very practical workshop on sustainable fashion and caring for your clothes. As well as giving advice on buying fabrics which won’t contribute to the micro-plastic problem, she showed us how to mend and improve the look of jumpers, boots, jewellery and socks. Although I didn’t have anything with me to mend, I went online and bought a darning kit so I can mend my socks in the future! The final session was worship led by Edinburgh AngSoc. This was quiet and reflective, with prayer stations which helped us to reflect on everything we had learned and discussed. One of the stations had us writing prayers on leaves which were hung on a string to create a vine. It was a thought-provoking, challenging, scary, informative and creative day. It really got me thinking about the changes I can make in my life. This is somewhat limited as my research takes place abroad, but this makes me want to live as sustainably as possible in other respects. I can try to buy local and seasonal food, and I plan to make use of Elinor’s tips on sustainable fashion; getting clothes to last longer on a student budget is always helpful!
In some ways consumer pressure has made it easier for individuals to live more sustainable. There are more plastic free and vegan options available now than there were 10 years ago. But we still need systemic change, so please consider how you can contribute to that. You could participate in climate strikes, encourage your university or local council to declare a climate emergency or divest from fossil fuels; signing petitions (such as Christian Aid’s Big Shift campaign) and writing to your MP is also always helpful.
SCM events always broaden my horizons, the mixture of disciplines and backgrounds means there are many different perspectives but it is a safe environment in which to share these. Check out movement.org.uk/events for SCM's upcoming events. Hopefully see you there!
Written by Helena Ripley, SCM Trustee and Campaigns Portfolio holder.