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Reform Magazine | August 25, 2019

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A challenge for Lent

A challenge for Lent

Christians are getting together to change their ways and make a noise this Lent. Hannah Brown invites us to join

I’ve got a confession to make: I’m a bit fed up of talking about the environment. For a while now, I’ve tried to remain optimistic, and give my best shot at making lifestyle changes to reduce the climate disruption I cause on a daily basis.

Last year, I tried to go ‘plastic-free’ and started with the bathroom, kitting myself out with bars of shampoo and a bamboo toothbrush. I was given beeswax food wraps for Christmas. I walked rather than getting the tube and tried to remember to turn the lights off when I left the room. I wondered if it was going too far when I was having dreams about the recycling!

It seems I wasn’t alone in this endeavour. By the start of 2019, 141 United Reformed churches had registered as Eco Churches with A Rocha, committing to review their worship, building management, lifestyles and community focus in order to build a church community which prioritises change for the environment. Some churches took up the Church of England’s challenge to go plastic-free for Lent 2018, reducing waste significantly.

We’ve been doing all of this for years. Churches around the country have given time, finance and resources to making change, and charities and other organisations have devoted significant time researching and lobbying for change.

Yet still, 2018 was not an impressive year for the planet. It was the fourth warmest year on record. Extreme weather cost the world over $1bn. Cape Town saw the worst drought in recorded history, and extreme floods in Japan killed more than 230 people. Approximately 295bn pieces of plastic were used in the UK alone, and 8m tonnes of plastic were found in the world’s oceans. Approximately one third of food produced globally went to waste, contributing to 8% of global greenhouse emissions.

This was accompanied by possibly the most radical call to action we have heard yet. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on global warming in October 2018 warned that, at the current rate, we are far from on track to achieve a safe limit of climate change. In order to reach the advised limit of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the report called for ‘rapid, far reaching and unprecedented change’ to our lifestyles.

In the face of these challenges, I find myself at a loss for what to do in response. I quickly reached a juddering stop on my plastic-free endeavour when I couldn’t find paper bags in my local supermarket. Whether out of laziness, limitation or uncertainty, I still find myself holding tightly onto the lifestyle I want to lead, rather than listening to the pressing call to act now.

Churches wanted to enable their members to respond to this global call to action, but also realised that simply issuing another appeal for change would be overwhelming. Instead, we needed an opportunity to recognise where we are, where we’ve been, and where we have the capacity to go next. So this year, the URC, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union and the Church of Scotland are all inviting their members to be part of a community journeying together through Lent. Together we will respond to the urgent call for change by making a significant personal commitment to changing our lifestyles…

Hannah Brown is the 2018/19 intern for the Joint Public Issues Team of the United Reformed and Methodist Churches, the Baptist Union and the Church of Scotland. Read more about the Living Lent campaign at livinglent.org

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the March 2019 edition of  Reform

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