Former archbishop challenges faith communities on climate action

By staff writers
January 28, 2015

Former Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, marked Bristol becoming the 2015 European Green Capital with a stark warning about the spiritual imperative to show responsibility to others and the planet.

On 25 January, Dr Williams, who is now Master of Magdalene College Cambridge, delivered a keynote speech to 200 people inside Bristol’s packed Elim Church.

Reflecting on the day’s conference, entitled 'Climate Change: A Matter Of Faith', Dr Williams said: “The world’s poorest people – those communities who have done the least to cause climate change – bear the brunt of its impact.

"By being part of Bristol 2015 and taking steps towards a safer and cleaner future, we can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with people around the world. I was delighted to see the strong level of support for the day and the palpable sense of urgency amongst Christians from across the region.

“Bristol 2015 offers churches and faith communities in the city an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to caring for people and planet."

The conference, organised by Christian Aid, CAFOD, Tearfund and South West Fairtrade, combined theological context with challenges, ideas, inspiration and resources including voices and reflections from Uganda and Bangladesh on the impacts of climate change.

The day began with Dr Williams addressing around 15 of the region’s church leaders at a cross-denominational breakfast where representatives including those from Anglican, Baptist, Salvation Army, United Reformed Church and Quaker traditions all signed a pledge to live more sustainably, pray for action on climate change and raise these issues at meetings of their governing bodies.

With tips and suggestions including reducing dependence on fossil fuels, installing solar panels, growing food, switching to green electricity suppliers and lobbying MPs the conference included practical ideas for both individuals and church communities.

Dr Williams is also chair of UK-based churches' global development agency Christian Aid.

The agency’s regional coordinator for Bristol, Lydia Nash, commented: “We have been delighted by the response to the conference which indicates the level of commitment across church communities in Bristol to tackle issues of climate change and to care for the planet. Bristol 2015 is a real opportunity to extend that commitment and to make this a year when lasting change takes root.

“Our work with partners in 45 countries across the world shows us the vital importance of making changes here in Bristol to help improve not only our immediate environment but those of communities where global warming presents an immediate and growing threat.”

Lunch for the event was provided by FareShare SouthWest, who use food industry surplus to feed poorer communities.

* More on climate change from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/climatechange

* Christian Aid: https://www.christianaid.org.uk

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