Christians asked to ‘repent’ of climate change sins

By staff writers
July 7, 2009
Revd David Gamble

The Methodist Church is urging Christians to repent of the sins that contribute to climate change.

A report received by the annual Methodist Conference in Wolverhampton today encouraged people to acknowledge their complicity in systems that exploit creation and prey on the powerless.

It comes after the spotlight was turned last week on the Church of England’s investments by which it seeks to profit from companies contributing to climate change and destroying people's livelihoods.

The Church of England's two biggest investments, totalling in excess of £200 million, are in oil companies. One of the companies from which it is seeking to profit, Royal Dutch Shell, was criticised in a report by Amnesty International last week for bringing widespread pollution and environmental damage to the Niger Delta, and "destroying lives".

The Church also has a major investment in Exxon Mobil which was last week revealed as giving hundreds of thousands of pounds to lobby groups who have published "misleading and inaccurate information" apparently seeking to denigrate theories of climate change.

However, the Church has launched an initiative to cut the energy consumption of individual parishes. It came after the Bishop of London suggested that flying could be considered "sinful".

A similar idea is now being pursued by the Methodist Church which wants to empower Christians to make positive lifestyle changes in line with the new report’s title, Hope in God’s Future.

The Rev David Gamble, President of the Conference, said: “The first step in making a difference is the recognition of what we’ve done wrong so far. But we can’t just stop there. We must not be beholden to economic growth at the expense of our world and the lives of those who are most vulnerable.

“In the face of climate change, do we give up and treat it as a lost cause? No. We are people of faith. We can turn the tide if we commit ourselves to acting together to make our planet a safer space. So the report challenges the Church to tackle the issue head on, committing itself to significant action over the coming years.”

The report outlines plans to reduce the Church’s carbon emissions by 80 per cent by the year 2050, in line with the target set by the UK Government. The Government is criticised in the report for its failure to outline how these tough targets can be achieved.

“But we are also challenging ourselves,” added David Gamble. “We cannot expect the Government to take the issue seriously if we fail to do so ourselves and this report outlines some big changes for the Church.”

Bishop Michael Baroi of the Church of Bangladesh urged the British Church to prioritise this work. He said, "By 2050, two thirds of my country will go under water and about 30 million people will be displaced and have no place of their own to live on this planet Earth, if we do not deal with this issue of global warming and climate change urgently and seriously".

The full text of the report Hope in God’s Future can be found online here.

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