Climate Change and the Church - a young person's response

First published 15th March 2019

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges we are currently facing.

Strongest among those demanding action is the voice of our young people, calling on leaders from all walks of life to make a decisive response to the issue.

Among those speaking out has been Sophie Mitchell, Church of England Youth Council Representative, who attends church in Bristol. She was invited to make a speech to General Synod last month as they debated the issue.

Here she reflects on her hopes for greater action among churches to tackle the 'Climate Emergency':

"I had decided that I would speak at Synod the day before the debate, because I believed that it was important for a young person to speak on this, since it is an issue that influences my future so dramatically. 

"I spent that evening reading up on the proposed Motion, and how it fit with the demands of the young people who were protesting for climate change only two weeks before. Those young people called for the Government to recognise this issue as a climate emergency - and I reminded Synod of this fact. 

"Many people feel indifferent to the issue of climate change, for whatever reason. I asked them to wake up, and realise that this issue is not going away. We must act quickly, and we must act now. 

"As Christians, God gave us the give of the Earth, to protect and to nurture. I pray that we come back to this responsibility, and start treating the Earth in the way God expected, when he loaned it to us. 

"Speaking at General Synod was an honour, and I feel very privileged to have used my maiden speech on this debate. I am very pleased that the motion was passed and that the Church of England will continue to encourage churches to do their bit for the environment. 

"Your church can do this in so many ways, such as going paper free and becoming an eco-church. There are now currently 18 eco dioceses and over 850 eco churches in the Church of England. I am proud that the Diocese of Bristol falls under this. 

If it sounds like an off-putting challenge, there are resources available to support you through helping your church go eco. What is for certain is that the present church has a responsibility to preserve the environment, for the future church and for the generation to come."

The motion was passed with 279 in favour, 3 against with 4 recorded abstentions. You can read more about the debate here.

You can watch Sophie's address to Synod here:

Additional resources

The moral crisis of climate change is an opportunity to find purpose and joy, and to respond to our creators charge. Reducing the causes of climate change is essential to the life of faith. It is a way to love our neighbour and to steward the gift of creation.
                        Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
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