Creating a low carbon economy needs ‘a vision of God’s kingdom on earth’. That was the message Bishop of Salisbury Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam gave to nearly 1,000 people at an ecumenical service during the Speak Up For The Love Of climate lobby in Westminster this week (17th June).
Welcoming the Pope’s encyclical on caring for creation, Bishop Nicholas (pictured right) declared it is our ‘Christian concern’ to look after the planet. He noted there is an ‘ecumenical consensus’ for the environment.
‘We need to make the transition to a low carbon economy,’ said Bishop Nicholas, who is the Church of England’s lead bishop for Environmental Affairs . ‘The science, economics and politics all point in the same direction – and we need the spirit to do it. We need to do things differently and seek to live in the ways of God. That’s about having a vision for God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.’
Held at the Emmanuel Centre – a few minutes’ walk from Parliament where 9,000 people were lobbying 330 MPs – the service was led by Dr Ruth Valerio, Churches And Theology Director of A Rocha UK. The West London-based conservation charity is a partner of the Climate Coalition, who were spearheading the campaign.
Dr Valerio interviewed Michel Monginda Mondengele of Catholic aid agency CAFOD (pictured below). Michel described how climate change has ravaged his homeland Niger. ‘Soil has been depleted and seasons have been turned around,’ he said. ‘People have resorted to drastic means to survive.’
Another moving part of the service saw a green ‘broken heart’ brought together on the stage. Irish singer-songwriter Andy Flannagan led the music.
Prayers were led by leaders from across the denominations – Salvation Army Commissioner Clive Adams, Pentecostal Bishop Dr Joe Aldred, President of the Methodist Conference Rev Kenneth Howcroft, Auxiliary Bishop Patrick Lynch of Southwark, Maya Williams of Quaker Peace & Social Witness, Catholic theologian Rev Dr Martin Poulsom and General Secretary of the United Reformed Church Rev John Proctor.
A service was also held at St Margaret’s Church, Parliament Square. A Rocha UK Conservation Director Andy Lester was part of an ecumenical group co-ordinating both worship events. Also involved were such agencies as Christian Aid, CAFOD, Tearfund and Salvation Army.
After the services, worshippers joined others to share their concerns with MPs. Dr Valerio and Andy Lester attended an evening reception for key contributors at Marks and Spencer’s headquarters.
World Wildlife Fund communications chief Colin Butfield described the colourful sight that greeted people at the climate lobby. ‘There were guys walking around with surfboards and there were groups of nuns. There was a uniting factor,’ he said. ‘We’ve lit a small fire which has just blazed all over the place.’ Among the guests at the reception was actress Miranda Richardson. ‘I feel optimistic that something brilliant is going to happen,’ she said. The full text of Bishop Nicholas’ sermon can be found here.