In parish life there are some words we say that people are uncomfortable hearing. Words such as ‘activism’ usually results in hearers suddenly finding something very interesting on the floor to look at, and garners all sorts of images in their minds. Earlier in the month we held a service for Environment Sunday inviting as our guest preacher, Rev Hilary Bond, Pioneer priest and Christian Climate Activist. Word flew around the benefice that a climate activist was coming to preach at our service, and there was much excitement peppered with a little trepidation.
Climate activism usually conjures up images that we are shown in the media, and the media does not always show the whole story, giving us sensational photos that are sometimes taken out of context. So, we may be forgiven for immediately thinking that activism only involves large inner-city protest marches, chaining oneself to railings, or causing public disturbances.
It was wonderful to meet Rev Hilary and to hear in her sermon and in conversations after the service that there is such a thing as ‘gentle activism’. Activism that we can all get involved with, that is accessible and achievable for small rural villages and churches.
Rev Hilary explained how we can all be gentle climate activists, “There are many forms of gentle activism that fit in between signing online petitions and being arrested.
- Educate yourself. I if it upsets you when you hear about species that are in danger of going extinct, find out what you can do to create habitat that would be suitable for them. If sea level rise bothers you, find out a few facts to drop into the conversation.
- Don't stay quiet. The church that I am part of did a Lent course that was about care of creation and I was really surprised at the number of people who hadn't realised how big an issue the climate crisis is. Once you have educated yourself about it – talk about it whenever and with whoever you can. And in amongst that you can share the fact that your motivation is because of your faith in Christ and maybe the people you are talking to will experience a double conversion.
- And if you are into making things there is a beautiful thing called Craftivism, where you create things with a message to send to MPs, or a business leader or anyone is in a position to make a difference, with a suitable message on it. There are some lovely stories of how a simple gift like this has led to a conversation, and another conversation, and eventually to change.
- And pray. Keep praying for climate justice on your own, in church, wherever”
Rev Hilary is inspiring and many conversations have sprung up from her visit, and we rejoice that we are already undertaking some gentle activism for in our benefice we pray regularly for God’s creation, that we protect rather harm this beautiful world God has given to us to care for. We will be working towards educating ourselves more of the climate crisis and sharing that knowledge with all who live, work and visit our villages. And there is most certainly some excitement about Craftivism which we had not heard of before. I wonder where our crafty imaginations will take us….
We are so grateful that Rev Hilary was able to join us for our service and we most heartily encourage you to invite her to your church or event to share her experience and knowledge, and I am sure you too will be inspired to join in with some gentle activism of your own. For as Rev Hilary said in her sermon “if we take seriously that responsibility that was given to humankind through Adam and Eve and never taken away, then doing nothing should not be an option.”
If you would like to know more, are feeling inspired, or would like to see how we can undertake some gentle activism in the UWVT, then please call any of the ministry team and we would love to chat with you.
To read Rev Hilary’s sermon in full, please click here