She was speaking at the church service that marked the start of this week’s Labour Party conference in Manchester. In their work of restoring God’s earth, A Rocha UK reach out to politicians of all persuasions.
‘With the General Election looming,’ Ruth told her audience, ‘I want to call on Labour to set out a strong stall on what climate action looks like.’
While praising the party for past achievements, she urged them to make this issue central to its manifesto. ‘Climate action has to move beyond carbon emissions targets,’ added Ruth.
‘Let’s face it, despite all our targets, our emissions have been rising not going down. We can set all the targets we want but they’ll do nothing unless we challenge continued fossil fuel extraction and continued consumption.’
Ruth’s talk unpacked the story of Old Testament hero Joseph. ‘It strikes me as ironic that all it needed for Pharaoh to take action against climate disaster were some kooky dreams,’ she said, referring to Joseph’s prophetic visions.
‘We have the best scientific analysis and consensus this world has ever seen – and still we do not act. I’d like to pray for some dreams for our global leaders that might wake them up and shake them up – and cause them to take action!’
She called politicians to be like Joseph – ‘called to save lives’ – and to follow the example of Pharaoh, who took notice of climate predictions and acted wisely. ‘Let’s make sure we live with integrity and bring policy and lifestyle together,’ Ruth added.
The annual service was held at St Ann’s Church, and organised by Christians on the Left, formerly the Christian Socialist Movement. Christian relief and development charity Tearfund led prayers for the people of Scotland following the referendum, and for the wider world.
Christians on the Left Director Andy Flannagan said later, ‘Starting conference with a church service is a good way to reflect and check our priorities ahead of a hectic few days.
‘We heard a strong call to put our faith into practice in all parts of our lives, and to speak out, too. Climate change is an issue we have a duty to address now, for future generations.’
St Ann’s has been a place of worship for Mancunians for 300 years. It has survived major bomb attacks – notably by the Luftwaffe in World War II, and more recently in 1996 when an IRA bomb devastated the city centre.
(Ruth is pictured addressing the church service. Photo: Heather Staff. The full text of Ruth’s talk can be read in the Comment section of this website.)