The Cathedral spire will turn green this Friday in support of the Church of England's Climate Change campaign.
To raise awareness of how climate change is affecting the very poorest countries most and to show support for our Bishop as lead bishop on the environment, the spire will remain green for the duration of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21).
The change of colour coincides with the arrival of the Church of England ‘Pilgrimage2Paris’ in the French capital this Friday. Forty five Christians from different denominations - Catholic, Church of England and Methodist - have joined together to walk from London to Paris on a climate change pilgrimage organised by the Church of England, Christian Aid, CAFOD and Tearfund.
The walkers between 18 and 75 years old set out from St Martin in the Fields, just off Trafalgar Square, nearly two weeks ago and are scheduled to arrive at the end of this week, just ahead of the conference. With negotiators from 190 nations gathering for the start of the talks, the pilgrims will hand in campaign petitions to Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) before joining an interfaith gathering and a mass mobilisation of prayer in the French capital.
In his capacity as the Church of England's lead on environmental issues, the Right Rev Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury also delivered a lecture entitled “Nature and Man in the Image of God”, which explored Climate Change as a central issue in Christian theology. Speaking at the prestigious College of the Bernardines in the Latin Quarter of the city, the Bishop considered what it means to be human; the growing ecumenical convergence on the importance of climate change; the convergence of theology with science, politics, and economics on climate change; and climate change as a moral and spiritual problem.
“Even people who do not have a religious faith have identified climate change as a spiritual problem but the nature of the spiritual problem seems to me to be variously understood," said Bishop Nicholas, acknowledging at the same time that the enormity of the problems we face are daunting. The scale of the environment challenge sometimes feels too big to face. It feels impossible for us individually to make a signifcant differe. A mixture of futility and fear causes us to bury our heads in the sand. We despair," he said.
“There is also a very serious problem that we have lost the link between the words we use and what we actually do" he said, hightlight the need for action not just words. "St Paul would have recognised the gap between beliefs and actions. In his letter to the Romans he wrote that “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do” (Romans 7.19).
The Bishop did not pull his punches. "I sometimes wonder if what is really being asked for in this yearning for spirituality is a bit like the spirituality of Alcoholics Anonymous. We won’t even be able to begin unless we realise our circumstances are so serious that we have reached ‘rock bottom’, when we know that it can’t get any worse for us," he suggested. "Unless we acknowledge the terrible mess we are in and our need for the support and solidarity of others, we will not be able to work our way through a 12 step programme designed to help us in recovery. The prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous is that God will give us the courage to change the things we can change, the grace to accept the things we can’t change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
The Bishop’s speech was a call to action, not just for Christians but for the global community, “The use of energy stored in fossil fuels has given us marvellous developments. We have made rapid progress. Now we live in a new era, when climate change is caused by human activity, particularly the use of fossil fuels,” said the Bishop. “That which has been good for us is now a mixed blessing. It is creating new dangers. We need a spirituality that will nurture and sustain our best minds, courageous hearts and a strong collective will to make an even more rapid transition to a low carbon economy for the health and salvation of the world.”
Locally a Salisbury City Prayer Pilgrimage is being held at St Thomas’s Church in the city centre on Sunday to support of those walking to the Paris Climate Change Conference. All are welcome to join in the daylong event. Meet outside St Thomas’s Church at 07:45 for brief prayers before walking around the city. Pilgrims can leave or join the Pilgrimage at any point. The day will finish back at St Thomas’s at around 16.00 for prayers, tea and crumpets. For further details email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 01722 331647. (See attachments below for more information).
If you cannot join the Pilgrimage, please pray for the pilgrims!