Refugee Week, Grenfell Tower, Queen’s Speech, Refugee Prayer Points – 19 June 2017

In this week’s prayer email:

  • Refugee Week
  • Short Notes: Grenfell Tower, Queen’s Speech, Refugee Prayer Points

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Refugee Week

It’s very appropriate for the Sunday before Refugee Week that the Revised Common Lectionary‘s Old Testament reading is the story of Abraham’s hosting three mysterious strangers, whom Scripture tells us represent a visitation of God. The alacrity and generosity with with the patriarch welcomes his unknown visitors provides a model for ‘welcoming the stranger’. And the immeasurable gift that the visitors give Abraham may prompt us to reflect: is it perhaps also true in human encounters that those who welcome the stranger can find themselves receiving far more than they give?

To encourage churches to celebrate Refugee Week, we are launching a new series of resources for churches that wish to ‘welcome the stranger’ and celebrate both our different pasts and our shared future.

These resources were primarily prepared by Joanna Schüder, who started as CCOW’s Churches Refugee Networking Officer at the beginning of April. Joanna comes to CCOW with a degree in social work and a background of working with refugees both in the United Kingdom and in Germany. She has wide experience in a variety of church contexts and is currently a deacon at Didcot Baptist Church, with particular responsibility for pastoral care. We are delighted to welcome her – and grateful to all whose prayers and donations are making Joanna’s work possible.

Joanna has spent her initial time mapping out what is already available in terms of support and resources. We are now working to make this information accessible and to make connections: a new page on our website shows local groups in the Thames Valley who are working to support refugees, and you can sign up to be connected with those working on refugee support in our area. We’re also attaching to the prayer email the CCOW Guide to Worship Resources – Refugees and Forced Migration: we hope that this will be of use to you for your Refugee Week services next week and more generally.  Further materials – including a website section on refugees and migration, more general resource guides and case studies from the groups Joanna is visiting – will be available shortly.

Short Notes: Grenfell Tower, Queen’s Speech, Refugee Prayer Points

  • Grenfell TowerWith the rest of the country we pray for all who mourn, all who are injured or traumatised by what they have suffered or seen, and all who have lost their homes or are temporarily displaced. We give thanks for the extraordinary courage and commitment of the emergency services and hospital staff, for the work of people in the community supporting those affected by the fire, and for the generosity of all who have contributed time, goods and money to relieve people’s needs. We pray, too, for a national conversation that looks seriously, soberly and rigorously at the concerns about justice, inequality, and attitudes towards regulation which the fire has raised … and we pray that we may honour those who have suffered by our determination to learn lessons that will prevent such suffering in the future.If you are looking for written prayers, you might wish to use prayer points from people ministering in the area; the Moderators of the United Reformed Church’s General Assembly’s prayer; the prayer from the London District Chairs of the Methodist Church (scroll down); or Bishop David Thomson’s prayer.
  • Queen’s SpeechIt is anticipated that there will be a Queen’s Speech on Wednesday.Different members of Government’s thoughts on migration and Brexit have been the subject of much discussion. There were also several Conservative Manifesto statements on aid, trade and energy that have inspired debate, including an apparent willingness to consider unilaterally changing the rules on aid, some quite ambivalent language in statements on renewables, and a strong commitment to shale gas (fracking).Please pray for wisdom, discernment and a commitment to the common good for those who are tasked with drafting the speech and, more generally, Government policies.
  • Refugee Prayer Points
    There are so many different possibilities for specific prayers of intercession and thanksgiving related to refugees. We’ve noted just a few bullet points here ….

    • that Europe may make progress towards rules on ‘safe passage’ so that people will no longer be forced into hazardous voyages
    • for justice for those who have been detained in poor conditions on Papua New Guinea and Nauru – and for a fair and just asylum system in Australia
    • for those who are suffering abuse in detention centres in Libya – and for an end to the ‘outsourcing’ of borders to areas that are unsafe
    • for those who are being involuntarily repatriated to Afghanistan, despite the dangers they face
    • in thanksgiving for the gifts and resilience of refugees and asylum seekers
    • in thanksgiving for all those who are sponsoring refugees and coming alongside them with support of many different kinds
    • in thanksgiving for the work of Christians, Christian agencies and churches to assist refugees, offering a witness to God’s love and receiving the gifts that strangers bring
    • in thanksgiving for those countries, like Uganda, which are keeping open their borders for those fleeing conflict. Pray for the Refugee Solidarity Summit this week in Uganda – and more broadly that Uganda and other host countries will receive appropriate support from nations and agencies.
    • in thanksgiving for the opportunity to celebrate refugees’ gifts to the UK and other countries in Europe through Refugee Week and through specific initiatives like the Refugee Food Festival

UK Elections, Philippines, Sponsored Walk – 11 June 2017

In this week’s prayer email:

  • UK Elections
  • Philippines
  • CCOW Sponsored Walk


“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” This phrase from the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel for the week has comforted Christians in danger throughout the centuries. As we read it this week, we thought of Christians being held hostage in Marawi City … those in the Central African Republic (again an area of concern) … and those in so many other places. For them, for all of us, may these words bring a renewal of faith and hope.
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UK Elections
Many church leaders and church-related bodies have made statements relating to this past week’s elections – and have offered prayer points. A selection of comments and prayer points is below – at the bottom you’ll find a prayer from the Church of Scotland and the Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Churches which you may wish to use. You’ll also find some action points.

  • Archbishop of Canterbury

    Excerpt: “It is heartening to see voter turnout increase at this election and I offer my prayers and good wishes to all those elected to Parliament, to all who put themselves forward as candidates and to the countless many who make our democratic process work so well.

    I encourage all Christians, and people of all faiths and no faith, to hold our political leaders in their thoughts and prayers at this time. My prayer is that they may know the love and presence of God, made known through Jesus Christ, as they continue their discussions and prepare to take on the weighty responsibility of leadership.”

  • President and Vice-President of Methodist Conference

    Excerpt: “Today we are grateful that the people of the United Kingdom are able to debate and vote peacefully, and to elect our leaders democratically…

    We invite you to pray for those working to form a government and for all of our newly elected MPs, that they may represent constituents’ concerns and interests in the House of Commons with wisdom, compassion and dedication. We also ask you to remember all those who make the democratic process possible, from council officials to those who put themselves forward for election, often at great personal cost.

    A hung Parliament is a reminder that politics does not end with elections. As the Government is formed, at a time of uncertainty for our country, we call on all members of Parliament to act in ways that will build a society with the common good at its heart. We commit ourselves and ask the Methodist people to be active participants in our democracy, encouraging and challenging those who have been elected. We are called particularly to advocate for the needs of the most vulnerable in our society and world.

    Finally, we rejoice in God’s promise that the Kingdom of God is coming, and recognise that it is also ushered in today when we embrace principles of justice, mercy and peace; may we continue to do so.”

  • Baptist General Secretary

    Excerpt: “The General Election is over, though the reality that has emerged is one of uncertainty. This will no doubt have an unsettling effect on our national life, and perhaps more than ever, as God’s people, we can draw strength from the words of the Psalmist:

    Nations are in an uproar . . .  kingdoms totter;
    The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge
    . . . . . Be still and know that I am God!         [from Psalm 46]

    Let us pray in the days ahead for everyone involved in the various discussions and negotiations that will seek to form a Government. Our vision of the Kingdom of God has much to say about the political issues of our day, but it also points us to higher realities that transcend earthly politics. Our calling to be beacons of hope has particular significance at this time ….

    Whoever eventually forms our Government will face a significant and demanding task, and irrespective of our political allegiances, will need our prayers as they seek to lead our nations forward.

    Our calling as a Gospel people is to proclaim those messages of justice and righteousness that are central to the Kingdom of God … much will depend not only on the perspectives and actions of the Government that is formed but how we, as Christians along with other citizens, engage in the life of our communities and nation as things go forward.

    Uncertainty may well prevail in the earthly realm, but we can draw strength and encourage others to do the same, by recognising the eternal and unassailable realities of our faith. As we gather for worship in the coming days, I encourage Baptist congregations to pray for our United Kingdom and all who hold responsibility and office in public life. But as we do so, let us also not become so pre-occupied with our own situation, that we lose sight of the needs and challenges of the wider world.”

  • Evangelical Alliance

    Excerpt: “We are praying for all those elected to serve in the House of Commons following the general election, for those who are not returning to parliament, and for those who have campaigned in the election – not just candidates but volunteers and supporters …

    Across the UK the election has produced shocks…The shocks make the future precarious, but times of crisis can also be times of opportunity, and for Christians such times are always times of responsibility. The uncertainty that the general election has brought shows us that we have four key responsibilities at this time.

    The first is to pray for peace and unity in our society. The second is for the Church to witness peace and unity to our society, sharing our faith in Jesus as the hope of the nations. The third is to cast a vision for what kind of society we would like to see – a common good in which love, truth, freedom and justice can flourish. And the fourth is for Christians to step up to the plate and get more involved in leading change in our society, because opting out is not an option.”

Post-Election Prayer from the Church of Scotland and Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Churches

Lord of all,
Amid the uncertainty of these results
We thank you for the democracy we have in this country.
We ask that you grant all those who have been elected the wisdom and compassion needed to govern.
May this become a society in which all people are enabled to flourish and live life in all its fullness.
Help us to play our part in building that society,
By holding those elected to account and by working with them towards the common good.
And Lord, today as always we pray for justice;
Justice in the here and now and justice in our shared future-
Oceans of justice.
Amen

Action Point: In addition to praying for your MP, can you set up a meeting with him/her  to discuss key issues? From the 1st to the 9th of July, the Climate Coalition is organising a Week of Action, where people are encouraged to speak to their MPs about climate change. There are resources here. Hope for the Future has also prepared a guide to building a relationship with your MP on climate change. We think it’s the best thing we’ve seen in some time – and we have some copies to give away. If you’d like one, get in touch.

Philippines

In Marawi City, on the island of Mindanao,  battle continues between the government of the Philippines and an apparent coalition of militant groups, dominated by the Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups, that has affiliated with the Islamic State.  Several hundred group members attacked Marawi City on the 23rd of May; they remain in control of a small portion of the city after more than two weeks of fighting.  Official figures suggest that the violence has claimed the lives of over 200 people, including government forces, militants, and civilians. The militants are also continuing to hold a Catholic priest and other hostages, whom they are alleged to be using as human shields.

According to the government of the Philippines, mobile phone footage shows the militants’ aim was to separate the area from the Philippines and to run it as an Islamic state. In the process of taking the area, the militants have targeted Christian civilians and their properties, taking hostages and circulating videos that show the destruction of the Catholic cathedral. They also have committed violence against Muslims who opposed their extremist teaching. The President has responded by invoking martial law over the totality of Mindanao; the army is fighting to retake the city, using both ground troops and bombings from the air.

Areas for prayer include:

  • Immediate humanitarian and reconstruction needs
  • Countering hatred
  • The need for peace and development in the region
  • The President’s – and wider government’s – response

Immediate humanitarian needs

Most people have now escaped from or been rescued from the city. The latest UNOCHA report estimates that some 290,000 people have been displaced by the conflict. Most are staying with host families, but over 39,000 are in evacuation centres.

According to an ACT Alliance briefing, initial data gathered by Christian Aid partner Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits shows that “at least 65% of the internally displaced persons are women and children,” as many men have stayed to guard properties or have gone to other locations to find jobs or funds. An assessment of needs in some evacuation centres suggested more food was needed, as well as pointing to an urgent need for mosquito nets, sleeping mats, cooking utensils and water and sanitary facilities. The assessment also pointed to a need for spaces that meet the cultural needs of the displaced population – and expressed concern that young and elderly people were at particular risk of illness.

Please pray:

  • for the safety and well-being of those who remain trapped in the city
  • for wisdom and courage for those who are trying to help them
  • in thanksgiving for the rescue/escape of those who have been able to leave
  • in thanksgiving for the hospitality of families and the work of local government, agencies and individuals to support people who have been displaced
  • that all displaced people will be able to access the food, housing, medical treatment, and water and sanitary facilities that they need
  • for people whose sense of displacement is exacerbated by conditions which are very different to those from which they are accustomed.
  • for all who are working to provide humanitarian relief. Pray especially for the work of Christians and Christian institutions working in such a sensitive situation. Ask that God will grant leaders and workers wisdom and discernment as they seek to assist all who come to them.

Countering hatred

While there are (see below) longstanding interreligious tensions in Mindanao, there is also a long history of interreligious cooperation. Indeed one of the clearest calls for justice for the Moro Muslims was written by the current Catholic Archbishop of Cotabato, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, and the Catholic Bishop Prelate for Marawi recently commented that local Muslims had never supported extremists because “they knew exactly what the consequences would be to the culture of people, to the way of life. The people of Marawi have always been very peaceful.”

The growth of groups that have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State is, however, worrying, as is the increased presence of non-Filipino jihadis among those involved in the fighting. There are strong concerns that the number of foreigners wishing to fight in the Philippines will increase, and that the militants will radicalise disaffected young people. There are also concerns that videos – such as the one showing the cathedral’s destruction and others that show the impact of government bombs on Muslim civilians – will be used to foment hatred among all groups. The Armed Forces of the Philippines have requested that people not circulate the videos on social media.

Within this context, religious and political leaders are working to counter messages of hate. Filipino Muslim leaders have condemned the destruction of the Catholic cathedral, noting: “Let it be known to all that Islam commands all Muslims even in war time to protect places of worship … what this terrorist group has done is un-Islamic and a blatant disrespect and disregard of the teachings of Islam.”  Similarly the political leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front and Moro Islamic Liberation Front have called on the militants to release the hostages that they are holding.

There are also many reported instances of continuing neighbourly collaboration among those of different faiths. One local Muslim leader, for example, hid over seventy Christians in his basement before leading them in an escape from the city.

The Interreligious Solidarity for Peace and the Zamboanga Peace and Security Forum commented: “While these events have manifested the worst of the self-styled oppressors and threat groups that have hostaged the residents of Marawi, they have brought out the courage and peace-loving character of our people … Muslims protecting Christians in ways that show that we are One Mindanao….”

Please pray:

  • In thanksgiving for Muslims and Christians who are seeking to build bridges through public statements condemning the harm done to their neighbours
  • In thanksgiving for people who have taken enormous risks to protect their neighbours. Pray for their safety and well-being.
  • That those who seek to advance an agenda of violence by fomenting hatred and radicalising young people will not succeed. Pray, too, that their own hearts may be turned from violence and hatred.

The need for peace and development in the region

To counter hatred, however, work also needs to be done on some of the region’s major issues.

The battle around Marawi doesn’t occur in a vacuum: Mindanao has been an area of conflict for centuries, with Muslims in the island’s western area resisting Spanish colonisers from the 16th century onwards. A 2005 World Bank paper referred to it as the ‘second-oldest conflict on earth’.

Following colonisation by the US, attempts by the US and subsequently the government of the Philippines to control the area by resettling Christians from other parts of the Philippines reduced the landholdings of the Moro Muslims to 17% of the territory they had once possessed and encouraged a complex of ethnically, religiously, and economically based tensions. These were exacerbated by the central government’s encouragement of mining and logging in Mindanao for export purposes, and by human rights abuses. From the late 1960s onwards, there have been a series of armed struggles, the first of which was sparked by the killing of a number of Muslim military trainees. Over the decades, the various conflicts have led to over one hundred thousand deaths (estimates range widely), millions of people displaced, and immense damage to people’s lives and livelihoods.

The Government has committed to rebuilding Marawi after its capture, and stated that it “will do everything to ensure normalcy and to deliver services to support the people’s aspirations for a comfortable life.” It’s not just, though, a question of rebuilding what the insurgents have destroyed. There is widespread recognition that for lasting peace to occur, greater self-determination and efforts to redress the socio-economic injustices that have plagued Mindanao will be needed. The peace process, which has faltered under President Rodrigo Duterte, needs to be restarted and the framework for a self-governing region agreed in 2012 implemented. There needs to be greater justice in the use of natural resources. And greater priority needs to be given to the region’s development. The development needs are serious: in the Philippines overall, the poverty incidence in 2015 was 21.6%; in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao [ARMM] , the rates were recently estimated as being about 48.2%. In Lanao del Sur, the ARMM province of which Marawi City is the capital, the poverty incidence is 74.3%.

Christian Monsod, a Filipino lawyer who helped frame the 1987 constitution notes: “The youth is restless and being seduced by the thought of the caliphate … the solution is not martial law but to speed up the peace process and to go into projects that would show the Muslim youth there is a better way to improve their lives.”

Please pray:

  • for reconciliation and peacebuilding that recognises past injustices and works to reconcile – and provide justice for – all communities in Mindanao
  • for justice in the use of natural resources in Mindanao and throughout the Philippines, especially with regard to the rights of minorities and indigenous people
  • for transparent and effective work to rebuild Marawi and to relieve the poverty that afflicts so many people in the region
  • for the work and witness of Christians as they seek to demonstrate God’s reconciling love in the region

The President’s – and wider government’s – response

President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao has caused great anxiety given the current President’s human rights record and the way in which martial law was used by Ferdinand Marcos to establish a dictatorship. Concerns were exacerbated when the President said that “To those who have experienced martial law, it would not be any different from what President Marcos did … I’ll be harsh.”

The Catholic Bishops of Mindanao have issued a letter in response to requests for pastoral guidance. Calling on all people to work for peace, they note many questions surrounding martial law, state that it must be temporary, promise to be vigilant, and “exhort everyone to be calm in the face of Martial Law, to be obedient to the just commands of lawful authority, and not to provoke violent reaction.” They also “urge the government to remove the causes of terrorism, such as poverty and injustice, through just and accountable governance focused solely on the common good.”

To prevent abuses like Marcos’, the 1987 Constitution provides mechanisms for the other branches of government to overturn the executive’s declaration of martial law: “Congress (the Senate and House combined), voting jointly, on a majority vote, may revoke such proclamation; and
 The Supreme Court, upon a suit of any citizen questioning the sufficiency of the basis of martial law, must promulgate its decision on such suit 30 days after filing.
”

At least three Catholic bishops have joined a petition “asking the Supreme Court to compel Congress to hold a joint session and review” the imposition of martial law on the whole of Mindanao. They state that they are doing this not because they are wholly opposed to martial law, but to determine whether it’s necessary for the whole island and to provide checks and balances to the executive branch. This is one of several petitions; the President has said that he will abide by the Supreme Court’s decisions.

Many commentators have expressed the concern that President Duterte’s instincts may tend more towards the use of military power than ‘soft’ power through peacemaking, arguing that while the former is necessary to restore order, the latter is important to create a climate for peace.

Please pray:

  • for wisdom for President Duterte as he decides on responses to the situation in Mindanao
  • that martial law may be used only within legal boundaries
  • for those who will monitor the human rights situation under martial law and those who are working to ensure that constitutional processes are followed
  • for wisdom for the Supreme Court

CCOW Sponsored Walk 

On the 22nd of July, CCOW will be holding our annual sponsored walk. It’s always a very convivial event, with an excellent walk (arranged by Colin Cockshaw), good company, and a pleasant pub lunch along the way. This time Colin’s arranged a route in the Henley area; the start and finish will be accessible both by car and by train.

If you’d like to join in, you can sign up on Eventbrite. We’d love to have your company. And if you can’t make the event but would like to donate to CCOW, please feel free to do that!

Pentecost, Environment Sunday, London, Elections, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan

In this week’s prayer email:

  • Pentecost
  • Environment Sunday: Caring for Creation
  • Short Notes: London Attacks, UK Elections, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Afghanistan

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Pentecost

We give thanks to God for the gift of the Holy Spirit: Advocate, Spirit of truth, teacher, comforter, renewer of life, source of gifts and prophesy, witness to and glorifier of Christ.

Come, Holy Spirit!
As you revealed the truth about Christ
To peoples of every land and language
On the day of Pentecost,
So in our world today
Reveal Christ’s truth to the nations
That all people may come to know
The saving power of Jesus
And everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord
May be saved.

We give thanks for the gifts of the Spirit, equipping people throughout the Body of Christ for ministry; for the blessings brought by movements of charismatic renewal; and for the quiet work of the Spirit in places where it may not yet be recognised.

We pray for all who seek to spread the Gospel, witnessing in word and in deed, and especially for those who labour to translate the Gospel into new languages so that people can encounter Christ’s story and teachings in the language of their heart.

We pray for Christians suffering for their faith and thank God for the living water that flows in believers’ hearts, consoling and strengthening them. May all who are in need draw deeply of that water.

“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in us the fire of your love.”

Pentecost reminds us that we are part of a vast world church, united in Christ who died for love of the world. To help us meditate on this, Elizabeth prepared last year a powerpoint collage of pictures from around the world accompanied by translations of John 3:16, which is attached.

Environment Sunday: Caring for Creation

Environment Sunday is the 4th of June; it’s the closest Sunday to World Environment Day, which is always on the 5th of June. In an earlier email, we gave links to prayer materials; the prayer above (and in an easy-to-cut-and-paste format at the end of this section) is taken from the Pray and Fast for the Climate resources.

There’s a certain appropriateness to having Environment Sunday fall on Pentecost: we recall, with gratitude and praise, the Spirit’s role in creation and ask the Spirit to guide us in caring for that creation.

At the same time, we’re aware that for many people there’s an irony in celebrating World Environment Day so soon after the President of the United States’ announcement that he would seek to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement. We deeply regret the divisions that are evident in this decision – but we are conscious that other countries – and US states, cities, and businesses(EU/China statement; India; new US alliance; Low Carbon USA)- are clearly still committed to climate action. And we give thanks for the sense being expressed in so many quarters that the momentum for positive change is too great for one decision to derail it(Carbon Brief response round-up)

What is more evident now than ever is that what each one of us does to care for creation matters, and that the witness of the church is essential. At Pentecost, pray that we may listen for the Spirit’s guidance … and that our care for creation may be one of the many ways in which we show the Good News of Christ’s love to the world.

Loving God,
Blessed be the works of your hands,
Your Spirit inspires trees and birds and waves into song and dance,
It is that same holy wind that you breathed on your disciples and on all creation,
Let your Spirit blow us to creative love and stewardship that shows reverence for your creation.
Blessed be the works of your hands O Holy One, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One God now and for ever. Amen

Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya of Swaziland

Short Notes: London Attacks, UK Elections, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Afghanistan

London Attacks
We pray this morning for all affected, directly and indirectly, by last night’s attacks. May God grant healing to those who are injured; comfort to those who grieve or mourn; wisdom and strength to emergency responders and to the politicians who must respond in the longer term; reassurance to those who fear being targeted wrongly as a result of others’ thoughts and actions; and a change of heart to all who rejoice in or plan violence.

UK Elections
The second part of this email will set out more on the elections. In the meantime, we would ask you to pray that politicians, electors and the media in this election will be motivated by a desire for the common good – and will have a willingness to hear and assess fairly those who present to them visions of what that might be. We ask for clarity of vision for politicians and electors alike; for media coverage that reflects a love of truth and seeks to engage rather than to marginalise; for elections that take place without incident; and for a spirit of constructive engagement among and with those who are elected.

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh
Heavy monsoon rains in Sri Lanka have caused disastrous floods and landslides, killing (according to the latest estimates) more than 200 people, displacing more than 25,000, and affecting almost 700,000. Please pray for all who have been affected and all who are working on relief and recovery. The disaster has also catalysed a debate on the government’s preparedness for disasters; please pray that the results of this debate may be helpful to all Sri Lankans.

The rains from Sri Lanka fed into a disturbance that became Cyclone Mora, which hit Bangladesh as a Category 1 storm. A significant number of fishermen were caught up in the storm and are missing; the Bangladeshi and Indian navies have been searching for them.

The land area most affected by the cyclone is a portion of the country that is home to Rohingya refugees, many of them undocumented, who have fled violence against them in neighbouring Myanmar. Most of the refugees live in makeshift settlements, which were devastated by the storm.

Launching an appeal on their behalf, the International Organization for Migration, which coordinates work in the area, noted that in an area which is home to over 130,000 people, the storm had destroyed 25 per cent of shelters and damaged up to 80 per cent. “Food and fuel supplies were destroyed, electricity lines were cut, and health and sanitation infrastructure was also badly damaged,” the organisation stated.

Internally displaced people in Myanmar also suffered, according to the UN. The last thing people who have already suffered so much needed was more suffering: please pray for them and for those working on relief efforts. Pray too that the global community may increase its pressure for justice for the Rohingya and for all the beleaguered minorities of Myanmar.

Afghanistan

Please pray for all affected by violence in Kabul this week. A truck bomb on Thursday killed almost 100 people; several protesters calling for greater security were killed by police seeking to disperse the crowds; and at least seven people were killed and over one hundred injured in three suicide explosions at the funeral of one of the protesters, who was the son of the Senate’s Deputy Speaker, a prominent opponent of the Taliban.

Over seven hundred Afghan civilians have been killed so far this year. Please pray for healing for all who have been injured or who mourn, peace for those who are fearful for their family and friends going about their daily business, and wisdom for those charged with keeping order. Pray for something to break through and turn the hearts of the violent towards peace.

Pray too that those countries which are pressuring or requiring refugees to return to Afghanistan may cease doing so, given the unsafe nature of the country.

UK and French Elections, Climate Talks, Events

In this week’s prayer email:

  • UK Elections
  • Short Notes: French Elections, Bonn Climate Talks
  • Coming up in the second half of May and early June …

The Christian community in Acts, as described in this week’s lectionary readings, is one where Resurrection joy and hope inform a daily life of shared prayer, shared meals, shared resources and mutual care. Can we, today, ask for the grace to live and promote visions of community that similarly reflect our hope in Christ and point towards God’s Kingdom?

UK Elections

How do we respond as Christians to the recently called snap elections? In response to this question, numerous denominations are issuing statements that offer material for reflection, prayer and action.

Church of England

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York released a pastoral letter, calling on Christians to pray for candidates and elected officials, and to engage with the election process in a spirit of love, trust and hope. The letter notes the importance of this election in shaping the national values and identity, refers to the place of faith within that identity, and emphasises the importance of three particular values: cohesion, courage and stability.

It defines cohesion as a “a  sense  not  only  of  living  for  ourselves,  but  by  a  deeper  concern  for  the  weak,  poor  and marginalised, and for the common good.” In domestic terms, it cites the importance of “education for all,” tackling housing issues, community-building, and a “confident and flouishing health service”; globally it talks about the 0.7% aid commitment, standing up for those suffering persecution, and “our current leading on campaigns against slavery, trafficking and sexual violence in conflict.”

Courage it defines as including “aspiration, competition and ambition,” and it mentions the need for just trade agreements, just finance, education that helps the excluded and a call to “affirm  our  capacity  to  be  an  outward  looking  and  generous  country,  with distinctive  contributions  to  peacebuilding,  development,  the  environment  and  welcoming  the
stranger in need.”

Stability it defines as “living well with change,” and notes: “Stable  communities will  be  skilled  in  reconciliation,  resilient  in  setbacks  and  diligent  in  sustainability,  particularly  in relation to the environment.” Recalling the importance of housing,  health  and  education, the archbishops also point to “marriage, the family and the household as foundational communities, which should be nurtured and supported as such, not just for the benefit of their members, but as a blessing for the whole of society.”

While the letter is clear that the values it espouses “are not the preserve of any one political party or worldview,” there is an interesting critique of it from an ecumenical group of clergy and lay people who are concerned, in the first instance, about the use of a term (stability) which is a primary campaigning term for one party, and more broadly with the way the letter defines some of its themes.

Joint Public Issues Team (Baptist, Church of Scotland, Methodist, United Reformed Church)

The Joint Public Issues Team has an election resources page, which brings together materials prepared  for this election (under the theme ‘This is a time ….’) and for the 2015 election. The materials include reflections, bible studies, worship materials, information about how to hold hustings, and videos of people ‘from the margins’ reflecting on election issues.

The ‘This is a time’ biblical reflections resource is a short (4-page) gathering of six Biblical verses, each serving as the springboard for a particular theme: engagement with society’s structures and recognition of God’s ultimate authority; the dignity of each person and importance of the common good; recognising and challenging misleading narratives while promoting honest discussion; raising issues that may be overlooked; Scriptural concepts of good government and good leadership; and the role of Christians in society after the elections.

Quakers

The British Quakers have a website called Quaker Vote. The introduction to this website notes that the election is a good time to raise issues that are important to Quakers and the site itself offers links to Quaker positions on such issues as peace, community, environment and sustainability, economic justice, equality, justice and democracy.

Quaker Vote also contains information about what individuals and meetings can do to engage with the election process, links to guidelines for events, and a blog with news about the elections. Its resources section has links to a wide variety of resources from the Quakers themselves, as well as from other groups.

For prayer around the UK elections:

  • a number of people have suggested using the prayer points for the French elections (below)
  • there’s also a helpful call and response prayer provided by the Joint Public Issues Team on the ‘This is a time’ theme.

Short Notes: French Elections, Bonn Climate Talks

French Elections

This Sunday the French are voting in the second round of elections. These are being contested by the two frontrunners from the first round, En Marche’s Emmanuel Macron and the Front National’s Marine Le Pen.

A poll taken after last Wednesday’s televised debate gave Macron a 24% lead. It is unclear, however, how the elections will be affected by abstentions and also by the online dissemination by unknown parties of a large number of documents which the Macron campaign says represent a mingling of hacked and faked material.

The French election uncertainty will not finish with the presidential elections, either. Whoever wins will then face the challenge of working with the parliament, which will be elected in June. Given that neither presidential candidate comes from the established parties which currently dominate the legislative branch, the parliamentary elections will, like the presidential, be without clear precedent.

Please pray:

  • that the country will be at peace. Pray for an end to terrorist violence and pray for wisdom and courage for all who seek to protect the country against violence. Pray that the French people will remain strong and calm and will not allow violence to make them live in fear and make choices from fear.
  • that as they vote – and as they receive the results – people will be able to find faith in the future, turning away from despair and cynicism, recalling God’s goodness and the gifts they have been given, and working out the role they can play in building up the common good
  • that the media will report truthfully and responsibly, and that people will be careful to seek out the truth about candidates and their positions.
  • that the country may make choices that help to protect the vulnerable and that do not further exclude people who are socially or economically marginalised
  • that people will continue to feel a sense of solidarity with those outside their borders, and will be open to those seeking refuge from conflict. That whoever is elected will both seek the common good for all France’s inhabitants and also enable France to play a positive role in Europe and more widely
  • that at a time of turmoil Christians and their churches may offer a living witness that Jesus Christ offers, as always, a way of love, truth and reconciliation – and that more people will come to know Christ through their witness

These prayer points are adapted from the reflection above, some of the statements by churches cited above, the website Prier Pour la France, prayer points offered by the European Evangelical Alliance, and the suggestions by the Communauté de Vie Chrétienne.

Bonn Climate Talks

The latest round of UNFCCC talks begins in Bonn this Monday. A considerable uncertainty hangs over the start of the discussions, however, as the Trump administration has submitted answers to a multilateral assessment that make it clear it has no plans to meet its 2020 commitment and doesn’t ‘have updated information’ on the emissions impact of recent policy decisions. It is rumoured, moreover, that the administration is seriously considering withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.

Please pray that the Bonn talks will include constructive discussions that move forward work to curb emissions. Pray too that the Trump administration will come to understand the importance of caring for creation and of honouring its climate commitments.

Coming up in the second half of May and early June …

14 to 20 May 2017 — Christian Aid Week: Resources on Christian Aid Week website

16 May – World Debt Day: Day to pray about unfair/unsustainable debt. Take a look at the resources in this area from the Jubilee Debt Campaign and Eurodad.

19 May 2017 – Iranian Presidential Elections

22 May– Internat’l Day for Biological Diversity: Theme: “Biodiversity for Sustainable Development.” Info from Convention on Biodiversity. Materials for churches: A Rocha, CEL

25 May to 4 June 2017 – Thy Kingdom Come prayer initiative: Could you and your church join with other Christians worldwide in prayer for people to know Christ?  Website with resources

26 to 27 May – G7 Leaders Summit, Taormina, Sicily. Proposed focus on migration. Potential meeting of Pope Francis and President Trump.

31 May – World No Tobacco Day: Materials from World Health Organization.

3-4 June 2017 – Viva Network World Weekend of Prayer for Children at Risk: Theme of ‘Teach us to pray’  Resources from Viva

4 June 2017– Environment Sunday (closest to 5 June, World Environment Day)  Links to worship materials

French Elections – 23 April 2017

In this week’s prayer email:

  • French Elections – A French Christian Perspective

The Easter readings speak of the great joy of those around Christ at His resurrection, as they begin to understand what has happened. This week’s  Revised Common Lectionary readings show the next stages – the disciples continue to deepen their own understanding and begin to communicate the Good News with the wider world. Pray that we ‘who have not seen and yet have come to believe’ may deepen our faith in these Eastertide weeks – and may share that faith with others.

French Elections – A French Christian Perspective

The first round of the French elections takes place this Sunday. Five major candidates are  running: the two who receive the most votes will go through to a second round of polling on the 7th of May.

Over the past year, many countries have seen campaigns and votes that broke with convention. The French election fits within this trend. The two major parties, which have governed the country since the establishment of the Fifth Republic in 1958, have lost voting share and may not be represented in May; candidates who have created new parties and movements are surging; and the polls show the top four candidates – François Fillon of Les Républicains (centre-right) , Marine Le Pen of the Front National (far right), Emanuel Macron running for his own party En Marche (centrist) and Jean Luc Mélenchon running for his own movement La France Insoumise (far left) – so closely grouped that it is impossible to predict who will go forward to the final round.

The election involves many specific policy issues (FT summary; Le Monde summary; Le Figaro summary) candidates differ on taxation and government spending, regulations on business and employment, the role of trade and globalisation, the nature of the public sector, immigration policy, approaches to national security, and social questions such as healthcare, housing policy, the role of religion and religious symbols, the nature of the family, and the structure and nature of the educational system. Underlying these – and often debated in themselves – are fundamental questions about national identity: should France be part of the European Union? Or not?  Who is ‘French’? Who is not?  What is the role of the past? What is the role of the state?

While the churches have refrained from endorsing any particular candidacy, they have been calling on their members to engage with the underlying issues, to vote – and to make their voting choices in a way that is consonant with their beliefs. Statements and study documents issued by the [Catholic] Bishops Conference of France (see below), French Protestant Federation (statement), and the National Council of Evangelicals in France (English summary; French study document) have highlighted what each group thinks are the main issues in question.

We are hugely grateful to the Roman Catholic deacon Jean-Claude Chipiloff, from the parish of Nuits-Saint-Georges in the Diocese of Dijon, who has shared the reflection below with us, to help inform our prayers:

In the Autumn of 2016, the Standing Committee of the [Catholic] Bishops Conference of France published a booklet called ‘Rediscovering the meaning of politics in a changing world’.

Chapter 7 of this document is called ‘The question of meaning’. Here is an extract:

‘Over the past fifty years or so, the question of meaning has, little by little, been abandoned in political discourse. Politics has become ‘managerial’, more the supplier and protector of ever expanding individual and personal rights than of collective projects. Management-type speeches have accompanied the advancement, growth and development of our country – but without concerning themselves with the ‘why’. Economic wealth and the consumer society have facilitated this marginalisation of the question of meaning.’

In a climate where politics is greatly discredited, twenty or so Catholic movements published on 13th April an opinion piece calling believers to ‘make their vote consistent with their convictions’ before the first round of presidential elections.

With less than a week to go before the first round of voting, I am very concerned about the way the campaign for this 2017 presidential election campaign is developing:

  • Two of the main candidates are the subject of judicial proceedings
  • The candidates of the two political parties which have governed France since 1958 are not certain of making it through to the second round of voting
  • Nationalist populism (far right) and the far left are appealing to a significant number of voters
  • The theme of leaving the European Union is catching on. But the European Union has been a factor contributing to peace and the economic development of Europe since 1945.
  • Abstention is appealing to an important number of voters
  • Key themes have been forgotten, such as :
    • The fight against unemployment
    • Fraternité and solidarity
    • Care for the marginalised
    • Welcome for refugees
    • International solidarity

I have the impression that a certain number of my compatriots are withdrawing fearfully into their own shells. I feel that this is due to the lack of a long-term programme on the part of the different candidates. The president of the Republic is elected for five years. None of the candidates is promoting a plan for beyond five years. Politics has become a profession; it’s no longer seen as public service. As those who have recently served terms as presidents of the Republic have failed to restore hope to the French, more and more voters are turning to candidates who have never been elected to office. You’d need to be very clever to say who the two candidates in contention for the second round of voting will be …

I feel rather sad when I see what has happened to political life in France. But nonetheless, I continue to hope, as my country has considerable resources. It has always found a way to recover … and it will do so again.

Please pray:

  • that the country will be at peace. Pray for an end to terrorist violence and pray for wisdom and courage for all who seek to protect the country against violence. Pray that the French people will remain strong and calm and will not allow violence to make them live in fear and make choices from fear.
  • that as they vote, people will be able to find faith in the future, turning away from despair and cynicism, recalling God’s goodness and the gifts they have been given, and working out the role they can play in building up the common good
  • that the media will report truthfully and responsibly, and that people will be careful to seek out the truth about candidates and their positions.
  • that the country may make choices that help to protect the vulnerable and that do not further exclude people who are socially or economically marginalised
  • that people will continue to feel a sense of solidarity with those outside their borders, and will be open to those seeking refuge from conflict. That whoever is elected will both seek the common good for all France’s inhabitants and also enable France to play a positive role in Europe and more widely
  • that at a time of turmoil Christians and their churches may offer a living witness that Jesus Christ offers, as always, a way of love, truth and reconciliation – and that more people will come to know Christ through their witness

These prayer points are adapted from the reflection above, some of the statements by churches cited above, the website Prier Pour la France, prayer points offered by the European Evangelical Alliance, and the suggestions by the Communauté de Vie Chrétienne.

We are very grateful to Canon Tony Dickinson, European Contact for the Diocese of Oxford, for putting us in touch with Jean-Claude Chipiloff and others, and for assisting us in finding Christian materials relating to the election.

World AIDS Day, Winter Cold, Northeast Nigeria, Colombia – 4 December 2016

In this week’s email:

  • World AIDS Day
  • Short Notes: Winter Cold, Northeast Nigeria, Colombia

This week’s Revised Common Lectionary readings offer a vision of the future, present encouragement, and challenge – the vision of the peaceable kingdom, in which all things are reconciled in Christ; an encouraging reminder in the epistle of the hope that Christians can receive now from Scripture and the Spirit; and the challenge of repentance that John the Baptist brings. May we – and all who encounter these readings – be inspired, encouraged and challenged!

World AIDS Day

“There’s really some great progress in terms of the HIV epidemic. But it’s … not past yet. HIV is a reality for us and I think it’s really important for us as a church that we must stay connected to this, or if we are not yet part of this, that we should become really involved in the fight against HIV and AIDS.”  World AIDS Day video by the Revd Christo Greyling, founder of Christian AIDS Bureau for Southern Africa (CABSA)

The past ten years have indeed seen some transformational shifts in the fight to end the HIV epidemic:

  • the numbers of people receiving treatment have improved hugely: in 2006, UNAIDS said that only 1.65 million people were on antiretroviral therapy in low and middle income countries. As of June 2016, UNAIDS estimates that 18.2 million people worldwide are receiving treatment.
  • mother-to-child transmission rates have fallen sharply. In South Africa, which has taken strong action to ensure appropriate ante-natal treatment, early mother-to-child transmission fell from more than 20% in 2004 to 1.8% in 2015.
  • Estimates of AIDS-related deaths have fallen sharply from a peak of roughly 2 million a year in 2005 to roughly 1.1 million a year in 2015
  • Low and middle-income countries have increased their investment in fighting AIDS by 46% in the five years from 2010 to 2015. In 2015, they spent US$ 10.8 billion.

These are causes for rejoicing – they represent millions of children born HIV-free and millions of HIV+ people living longer, healthier lives. We give thanks to God for those who have been part of these successes and for what they’ve enabled.

But at the same time, the good news isn’t the only news. As the new StopAIDS campaign says, “It ain’t over.” Treatment rates vary greatly from country to country and often within countries depending on your location or socio-economic status. There is a serious ‘prevention gap’ amongst adolescents and adults: UNAIDS notes: “New infections among young women aged 15-24 years have declined by only 6% between 2010 and 2015, while the rate of new

HIV infections among 25–49-year-old men and women is essentially flat. Meanwhile, new infections appear to be rising among people who inject drugs and men who have sex with men.”

What does this mean? If we look simply at young women, in 2015, an estimated 390,000 women between 15 and 24 became newly infected with HIV – that’s about 7500 young women a week. UNAIDS notes, “young women are facing a triple threat:

  • they are at high risk of becoming infected with HIV
  • they have low rates of testing and have
  • difficulting accessing and staying on treatment”

The high risk for young women stems from a range of causes. Our colleague Lyn van Rooyen, who runs CABSA, writes that primary factors include “child marriage, age disparate relationships, economic hardship and inequality – we still hear so many stories of ‘survival sex’, patriarchy and gender inequality … sexual and gender-based violence, poorer education for girls and young women, lack of specific information about HIV and HIV transmission, lack of comprehensive sexuality education, and biological vulnerability (the sexual organs of young women are more prone to trauma and micro tears, have a different pH etc, making them more vulnerable to infection).”

I (Maranda) remember sitting with a group of young women in South Africa. Their situations were, as is often true for young people the world over, complex and often contradictory. Society was telling them that education was important, and they could see the merit in aiming for or participating in higher education. But the older members of their church were expecting them to marry and immediately to give up work. Why then, they asked, should they continue with their education? Or should they reject what their church members were telling them? And what if you married and wound up being like the woman whose husband wouldn’t even give her enough money to buy a sanitary products? What should you do when your boyfriend was pressing you to take things further? Or when a friend was seeing an older man with a poor reputation, who was giving her gifts?  Amidst the questions, there was also a fear of attack (South Africa has one of the world’s highest rape rates); no woman went out alone after dark. There were so many areas of vulnerability – especially given the reluctance to mention, much less discuss, HIV.

For the sake of all who are vulnerable to HIV and AIDS, Christians – both those of us who are living with HIV and those who aren’t – need, as Christo Greyling says, to stay or get involved in the fight against the epidemic. That might be through working directly on prevention among young people, the way the Fikelela Project‘s ‘Agents of Change’ programme does, or by supporting such work financially. It might be by our showing in worship and the way we organise our church life that our churches are safe and welcoming spaces. It might be by sharing our own experience or expertise to inform others, or by seeking out information so that if someone comes to us with pastoral concerns relating to their status, we can listen well and understand the context. Or it might be getting involved in advocacy around finance and access to treatment: in September, the UK Government showed leadership by pledging £1.1 billion over three years to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, but there’s still a lot of work to do.

Please pray:

“Compassionate God, we cry out in our finiteness and frailty, knowing there are no cheap answers or quick fixes. We have a lack of words to express our feelings regarding the crises of our world. Grant us peace where we are groaning for grace and grieving for change.”

  • Pray for all who are living with HIV, and all who are affected by HIV and AIDS. Pray especially that all people may have access to treatment and may not experience discrimination because of their condition or that of family members.
  • Pray for all who mourn those who have died because of AIDS.
  • Pray that efforts to reduce new infections will be successful.
  • Give thanks for the ante-natal care that has done so much to halt mother to child transmission in some countries and pray that more countries are able to implement it and to help young people stay free from HIV.
  • World AIDS Day falls during the 16 Days of Activisim against Gender-Based Violence: pray specifically that countries will work to address issues like poverty and Gender-Based Violence that increase vulnerability to HIV. You might want to use the beautiful Creator God prayer by Musa Dube, found here.

Strengthen us and fill us with hope, that we may be able to continue to live with compassion in our struggle with HIV and AIDS.

  • Give thanks for the work of Christian organisations like CABSA helping churches to become aware of the issues around AIDS and to commit themselves to action.
  • Pray that churches may be places of welcome and safety, where people do not experience discrimination because of their HIV status.
  • Pray that churches may support people living with or affected by HIV – and give thanks for the many around the world who offer practical and spiritual care to those within and beyond their community.
  • Pray that churches will be able to offer their communities a safe, stable environment in which people can grow in Christ and find loving care when they face issues that could make them vulnerable to HIV.

The material in italics is from the latest CABSA World AIDS Day resources. You can find the full prayer and many further prayer resources on the CABSA website. Christian AidUSPG, and the Sanctuary Centre also have helpful resources.


Short Notes: Winter Cold, Northeast Nigeria, Colombia
Winter Cold

“In the bleak midwinter …” As parts of the UK have experienced the first cold weather of winter this past week, it’s also grown colder in southeastern Europe and the Middle East, where many refugees in Greece and the Balkans, Iraq, and Kurdistan (among other places) are inadequately protected against the freezing weather. Pray that asylum seekers and refugees in vulnerable situations will be given the resources they need to stay safe and well during the cold weather. Pray for more effective coordination of governmental and intergovernmental resources and policies to keep refugees and asylum seekers safe. Pray that churches may offer effective and useful assistance.

Action Point: Many charities – such as All We Can, CAFOD, and Embrace the Middle East, among others – offer ‘alternative gifts’ that include support for vulnerable refugees. Could you include these among your Christmas gifts to people?

Northeast Nigeria

Boko Haram’s attacks in Northeast Nigeria and Cameroon continue, with millions of people displaced by the violence. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has expressed particular concern about hunger in Northeast Nigeria: the region has almost 2 million internally displaced people and more than 5 million who are facing acute food insecurity, including some who face famine. UNHCR has warned that 75,000 children are at risk of dying of hunger.

Please pray:

  •  for an end to the attacks and true peace for the region, as well as for comfort and healing for all who have suffered as a result of the violence.
  • in thanksgiving for residents of the region and those from the Nigerian government and outside agencies and groups who are working to assist the suffering.
  • for “a coordinated commitment between the Nigerian government, international partners, and UN agencies” and that the Nigerian government will link humanitarian aid and programmes for long-term development in the region
  • for international donors and the Nigerian government to provide the funding needed for relief and development.
  • for the life and witness of Christians in the region.

Colombia

It is a cause for rejoicing when steps towards peace are taken, especially in situations that have long seemed intractable. This week Colombia’s Congress ratified a peace agreement with the FARC rebels. The agreement is a revised version – with additional concessions from the rebels – of the deal that was rejected in a popular referendum earlier this Autumn. Its implementation would bring to an end a conflict that has stretched for decades and displaced millions.

The situation remains complex: congressional opponents of the deal boycotted the vote and suggest that even the revised version, which incorporates many of their proposals, offers too much impunity to rebels. The rebels state that they have begun to destroy explosives and to create the political grouping that will represent them in the legislature, but that circumstances are not yet ready to move to demobilisation points … while the Government is awaiting a ruling on the extent of its power to use fast-track legislative procedures to grant amnestry to jailed rebels, which is one of the preconditions  rebels have set for demobilisation. Even if the demobilisation begins in good time, the process is likely to be difficult.

And there are other concerns – peace talks are needed with other groups, and there are worryingly high levels of violence against human rights defenders, environmental activists and community leaders.

The President recently tweeted that the ratification of the accord gave rise to a new “chapter of hope” Please give thanks for the progress made and pray that that hope may be realised for all Colombians, and that the country may know peace, stability and justice.

Photograph: World Bank Photo Collection, Creative Commons License

Wildlife and Biodiversity, Syria, Drought, Elections, Fairtrade, Migration – 28 February 2016

In this week’s prayer email:

  • Short Notes: Syria, Southern Africa’s drought, Elections, Fairtrade Fortnight, Europe and migration
  • Loving God’s world: wildlife and biodiversity (World Wildlife Day, 3 March)

Why do bad things happen? It’s a frequent question – and in an attempt to rationalise, people all too frequently blame the victims. If something has gone wrong for them, it must be their fault! But in this week’s  Revised Common Lectionary Gospel, Jesus disputes that analysis. “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans?” he asks – clearly implying that they were not. At the same time, he calls all people to repentance and warns of sin’s destructive consequences.

A complex message! Where today do we see people being blamed for suffering that is not of their making – and how can we help to `comfort and defend them? And where do we see sin which may cause destruction – and how can we help to turn ourselves and others away from it?


Short Notes: Syria, Southern Africa’s drought, Elections, Fairtrade Fortnight, Europe and migration

  • As we write this, the Syrian truce has begun and seems to be holding, despite some violations. Please pray that it may provide a respite for civilians who have been caught in the middle of the fighting. Pray too that it may lead towards moves to establish a stable, just peace.
  • A long-running Southern African drought has been exacerbated by El Niño and is hitting many countries hard: the Guardian ran an article on Mozambique recently, and Al Jazeera did a strong story as well.  Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town also discussed the impact of the drought at an earlier stage in a beautiful and powerful video he did last year for the Mass Lobby of Parliament.A meeting of the Southern African Develoment Community (the Southern African nation states) on Friday estimated that 28 million people were vulnerable and in need of relief. Please pray for an end to the drought. Pray also for those affected by its impacts and those working to mitigate the effects of the impacts.  If you would like to donate to relief efforts, please contact us for options.
  • There were a number of elections at the end of last week – most notably in Iran, which was voting for its parliament and Assembly of Experts, clerics who have the responsibility of choosing the next Supreme Leader should a vacancy arise during the Assembly’s eight-year term. The election was seen as something of a referendum on the reformist President Hassan Rouhani and his recent nuclear deal with the Western powers. Early indications are that, despite the fact that only 200 reformist candidates were allowed to stand, reformist and independent candidates have done well in the parliamentary elections, and no single faction will dominate. Please pray for wisdom for all elected, and that the results help to lead to greater openness, justice and respect for human rights – including freedom of religion – in Iran. (Coverage: Al Jazeera, Daily Star (Lebanon)Financial Times, Guardian, Le Monde)This Tuesday, a number of US states will hold primary elections, voting for delegates to the party conventions that nominate presidential candidates. In a race distinguished thus far by unusually negative campaigning, pray for wisdom and discernment for voters and candidates.
  • Fairtrade Fortnight starts on Monday, with the theme ‘Sit down for breakfast, stand up for farmers’. We’ll be focusing on Fairtrade next week – but please start praying now that the Fairtrade will continue to create positive change for all involved with it, whether as producers, suppliers, retailers or consumers.  Our Fairtrade prayers and resources can be found here.
  • The UK is much concerned with our EU Referendum, but in an editorial on Friday, French newspaper Le Monde warned that the EU’s lack of a collective and coherent policy on migration threatens Europe more generally: “Shocked by the impact of the wave of migration, Europe is fragmenting, breaking up, taking itself apart … [unless there is a major change] historians will without doubt date the beginning of the disintegration of Europe to this matter, and to these years.”The immediate cause of the article was a summit convened by Austria, in which the countries of the ‘Balkan route’ – both EU members and non-EU members – met to work out ways to ‘isolate’ Greece and contain migration within its borders. Greece, Germany, and the European Commission were not informed – and Greece has recalled its ambassador from Austria in protest.  But as Natalie Nougayrède points out, the lack of EU policy coherence results from decisions by – and affects – all countries. And the need for cooperation – for the sake of both refugees’ safety and countries’ stability – is immense.As European ministers prepare to make decisions on border controls and migration policies, please pray for wisdom and discernment on all sides. Pray too for the safety of all who have fled conflict and oppression, whether to Europe or to other parts of the world. And pray for an end to the conflicts and injustices that force people to flee from beloved places and people.

Loving God’s World: Wildlife and biodiversity

World Wildlife Day is 3 March, so for this week, we are focusing on expressing love through care for wildlife and biodiversity.

The Lord said to Job,
Where were you when I laid out the Earth’s foundation… while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
Do you know when the mountain goat gives birth?
Do you observe the calving of the deer?
Who has let the wild ass go free?
Is the wild ox willing to serve you?
Do you give the horse its might?
Is it by your wisdom that the hawk soars?
Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up?
Look at Behemoth, which I made just as I made you. He eats grass like an ox. His limbs are as bars of iron. Under the lotus plant it lies, in the cover of the reeds and in the marsh.
Who has first given to me that I should repay?
Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine.
From Job 38 – 41

The final chapters of the book of Job read as a litany of celebration: God exults in the complexity of his creation and the wonders of his work. The sense of God’s pride, care and intimate knowledge is reflected elsewhere in scripture, for example in the Psalms: “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O LORD” (Psalm 84:3) – and in Jesus’ words: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” Jesus asks. “Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father” (Matthew 10:29).

In his paper on the Bible and Biodiversity, Sir Ghillean Prance says, “The Bible is biodiverse from Genesis to Revelation”. He cites God’s post-flood covenant in Genesis 9 as “the real biblical basis for the preservation of biodiversity”, with its repeated emphasis that God’s covenant is not simply with Noah and his descendants but with “every living creature.” He goes on to explore biodiversity and its preservation in the books of the law, the psalms and proverbs, the major and minor prophets and the New Testament, finding deep wells to draw from. Martin and Margot Hodson echo this view, writing, “the pages of the Bible are buzzing with insects, alive to the song of birds, majestic in their description of trees and awesome in appreciation of the strength of large animals. The Bible contains the names of countless species of trees and animals. There are thirteen different Hebrew words for owls alone and nine for locusts.” (Cherishing the Earth, p. 35)

In his critique of Genesis 1, and in particular the vexed question of what “dominion” over the earth by humankind means, Professor Richard Bauckham writeswhen we get to the creation of humans on the sixth day and we read God’s command to us to have dominion over the creatures, we already know that what God is entrusting to our care is something of priceless value… [O]ne of the things God delights in [is] the sheer, abundant variety of the creatures… We hear of fruit trees of every kind, seed-bearing plants of every kind, sea creatures of every kind, birds of every kind, wild animals of every kind, domestic animals of every kind, creeping things (i.e. reptiles and insects) of every kind. In all, that phrase occurs ten times. This is an account of creation that celebrates biodiversity”. Dominion is therefore taking care of God’s cherished creation and “responsible rule that does not exploit its charges.”

Similarly, in his exploration of the Bible and Biodiversity Reverend Dave Bookless concludes, “This world and all its creatures (human and non-human) belong to God and exist to bring glory to God… Every species matters, irrespective of its usefulness to humanity. Avoidable extinctions damage the integrity of God’s world, erase something of God’s self-revelation in creation, and silence elements of creation’s worship of God. Humanity has a divine vocation in reflecting God’s character towards the animal kingdom through encouraging the flourishing of biodiversity and resisting its depletion. This is both a missional task to be fostered as a special vocation for some, and part of the wider calling of all Christ’s disciples”.

Thus the sheer variety of life on Earth matters for its own sake.

But it is also vital for our own (humanity’s) survival. “Ultimately we rely totally on the ecological connectivity and biodiversity of this beautiful blue pearl in space, the Earth, whose future is in our hands. So we dismiss the needs of other species at our peril”, writes Dr Andrew Gosler, Research Lecturer in Ornithology and Conservation at Oxford University.

That God’s creatures and biodiversity are under threat because of mankind is not in doubt. Whilst the extinction of species is a natural phenomenon, current rates of extinction are vastly in excess of background rates (around a thousand times higher). Such dramatic loss has been described as “defaunation” with scientists arguing that we have entered a new geological epoch, the “anthropocene”.

As do other commentators, the World Wildlife Fund regard habitat loss as the leading cause of biodiversity loss. All types of habitat, from forests to lakes to swamps, have been cleared for industrial development, housing and roads, and exploited for human consumption. Destruction of rainforests and coral reefs has been the greatest source of biodiversity loss; rainforests have been eliminated from 50% of the area on which they formerly existed. The FAO points to the impacts of agriculture on biodiversity over the millennia, with ever-increasing food production driving the conversion of natural habitats into agricultural production. Human population growth is therefore one of the factors impacting biodiversity; pollution (including from synthetic nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizer use) is another.

Climate change is particularly inimical to biodiversity. A 2014 IPCC report highlights the widespread impacts of climate change on many terrestrial, freshwater, and marine species in terms of their altered geographic ranges, seasonal activities, migration patterns, abundances, and species interactions. Whilst it says that, as yet, only a few recent species extinctions can be attributed with high confidence to climate change, it is known that there were significant species extinctions in previous epochs, when natural global climate change was at a slower rate than we are currently experiencing. If global temperatures rise 4oC above pre-industrial levels scientists have projectedthat around 57% of plants and 34% of animals are likely to lose more than half of their present climatic habitat range by the 2080s.

Given this somewhat gloomy assessment, is there anything being done to address biodiversity loss… is there anything more hopeful?

We are currently midway through the UN’s Decade on Biodiversity to implement the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity. This includes the Aichi Biodiversity Targets which address areas such as tackling the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, reducing pressure on biodiversity and promoting sustainability, and safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity. In addition, Goals 14 and 15 of the new Sustainable Development Goals set out a number of specific targets which would protect biodiversity (for example, reducing marine pollution, establishing marine and coastal conservation areas, halting deforestation, reducing the degradation of natural habitats) – with the overall ambition of halting biodiversity loss.

In his recent paper, “We have 15 years to halt biodiversity loss, can it be done?” Dr Richard Pearson, Reader of Biodiversity at UCL, cites several reasons for hope. These include: protected-area coverage is increasing globally, sustainable practices in industries such as fishing and forestry are becoming established, responsible investment is becoming more mainstream, 184 countries have established National Biodiversity strategies and Action Plans, and there are specific conservation success stories. He concludes, “It will take time to slow and turn around the juggernaut that is biodiversity loss, and everyone must pull in the same direction in order to shift course. The period over which the new SDGs will run, from now until 2030, will be absolutely crucial for making this happen. There are indications that things are beginning to turn around. Hints that we can do this. It would be a big mistake to dismiss the biodiversity target as a fairy tale”.

So what are some of the practical actions we can take, so that we don’t unwittingly contribute to the problem? How can we show our love for God’s wonderful world and respect for his creatures? As for last week, a definitive list is beyond the capacity of this short piece; instead, we offer here some “top tips” – several of which were kindly provided by colleagues with a passion in this area.

Reduce your ecological footprint:

  • You can calculate your ecological footprint and get a personalised action plan here: the One Plant Living Challenge.
  • In his paper, 10 things you can do to help biodiversity, Dr David Hooper emphasises the prime importance of reducing consumption. Making the connection between demand for new resources, habitat conversion, energy usage and extra waste going to landfill might be obvious, but I (Elizabeth) always need reminding…

Plastics:

  • Reduce use of plastic. There are lots of ideas here: my plastic-free life and here: Two years of living plastic-free, how I did it – both from people who’ve been trying to go plastic-free. For a specifically UK perspective, see here: Plastic Free UK.
  • Stop using products with plastic microbeads in them. These tiny non-biodegradable particles are added to a host of personal care products (including toothpaste) and end up in the “Plastic Soup” in the world’s oceans – where they pass along the marine food chain. For Smartphone users an App is available which you can use to scan barcodes to find out whether the product contains microbeads. Greenpeace has recently launched a petition urging the UK Government to follow the lead of the USA and Canada in banning their use.
  • Never throw away plastic bags, too many finish up injuring wildlife injuring wildlife

Home and garden:

Palm oil:

Palm oil is the world’s most popular vegetable oil, currently accounting for over 65% of all vegetable oils traded internationally. It is currently found in around half of all packaged supermarket foods and is also used in detergents, cosmetics and biofuels. And its use is increasing. Millions of hectares of tropical rainforests have been destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations, with a devastating impact on biodiversity.

What can we do?

The World Wildlife Fund for Nature argues that boycotting palm oil is not the answer but that sustainable palm oil is. CSPO stands for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil and means the oil was grown on a plantation that “was established on land that did not contain significant biodiversity, wildlife habitat or other environmental values, and meets the highest environmental, social and economic standards as set out by the RSPO” (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil). Ethical Consumer do encourage a boycott of products from companies that aren’t currently using 100% responsibly sourced palm oil and provide a helpful list of palm-oil free and sustainable palm-oil products here: Ethical Consumer guidance.

RSPO certification is not without its critics. Greenpeace argues that RSPO standards do not prohibit deforestation and peatland destruction. These criticisms appear to have been addressed in the recently announced “RSPO NEXT” voluntary add-on criteria for RSPO members.

Traidcraft have introduced FairPalminto some of their products – a fair trade, sustainable palm oil grown by smallholder farmers in West Africa alongside other crops.

Finally… campaign on climate change, get involved in A Rocha (the world’s biggest Christian biodiversity NGO), and get your church signed up to Eco Church.

With thanks to Martin Hodson, David Morgan and Mike Perry for their suggestions.

Votes, TC Winston, Hope in a Changing Climate, Lent – 21 February 2016

In this week’s prayer email:

  • Short Notes: Votes, Tropical Cyclone Winston, ‘Hope in a Changing Climate’
  • Loving our neigbour in a globalised world
  • How then shall we live?

“Abraham believed the Lord, and God reckoned it to him as righteousness.” – a text from this week’s Revised Common Lectionary texts that has been very important to many Christians! Can we follow Abraham’s faith, trusting to God to bring to pass even those good things that seem impossible?
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Short Notes: Votes, Hurricane Winston, ‘Hope in a Changing Climate’

  • The date of the UK referendum on EU membership has been announced. This is a vote with implications not only for the UK but for the future of the European Union, already facing a period of strain. Please pray for wisdom and discernment for those campaigning on the issue within the UK and for UK voters. Pray also for wisdom and discernment for the politicians and media of other EU countries, as they respond to the uncertainties facing their countries and the union. There’s an interesting roundup of EU press reactions here.Uganda’s elections have resulted in a fifth term for President Yoweri Museveni – but have been widely criticised, with EU Chief Observer Eduard Kukan noting that the governing party’s “domination of the political landscape distorted the fairness of the campaign.” The chief opponent in the election (who has rejected the election results) is under house arrest, and the government is alleged to have used threatsto discourage voters from choosing for the opposition. These are tense times: please pray for wisdom and discernment for all people with influence in the country, and for a movement towards stability with justice.
  • Another category 5 tropical cyclone has hit the Pacific; pray for the people of Fiji, some of whose islands are receiving a direct strike from Tropical Cyclone Winston, the first category 5 storm known to have hit the islands. The main airport is in the hurricane’s path – pray that any hurricane damage does not prevent humanitarian relief from arriving quickly and being used effectively.
  • On the 15th and 16th of April, a group of agencies and churches, including A Rocha UK, All We Can, CAFOD, Christian Aid, CCOW, the Church of England, Commitment for Life, Global Justice Now, Operation Noah, Progressio, and Tearfund are putting on a conference called Hope in a Changing Climate.  It will offer a chance to get updates on what happened in Paris, reflect on Christian responses, share ideas and experiences, and learn about ways in which we can act to make a difference – whether through advocacy, investments, practical action or prayer.Speakers include leading climate scientist Professor Myles Allen; theologians such as Michael Northcott, Martin Poulsom, Rosalind Selby and Ruth Valerio;  climate communicator George Marshall; church leaders such as the Rt Revd William Kenney, Rachel Lampard, and Jo Herbert; specialists in advocacy and activism Paul Cook and Mark Letcher and many others.Pray for the speakers as they prepare. Pray that the event may be a blessing to Christians in the UK and elsewhere as they seek to care for creation.

Loving our neighbour in a globalised world

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”  And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

It’s easy to understand the lawyer’s question. We all have finite resources – emotional, material, of time, of space. If we are to love our neighbour as ourself, extending the definition of neighbour too far can feel overwhelming. The temptation is to circumscribe the number of people to whom we have obligations so that life feels manageable, and we can say confidently: “I have done this.”

But Jesus’ response allows neither the lawyer nor us to take that route.

Instead of getting an answer that enables him to classify others into the category of neighbour or not neighbour, the lawyer is instructed to act as a neighbour to those whom he encounters, whatever their circumstances.

That’s a challenge. And  in a globalised world, it raises numerous questions. What does it mean to ‘encounter’ someone? Does it apply only to those whom we meet in our daily lives? Or also to others whom we may or may not meet face to face? Pondering this, the theologian Dewi Hughes has suggested that we ‘encounter’ anyone on whom our actions have an impact – and that with respect to such people, we are responsible for applying the principle of love in all our actions that affect them.

So, for example, the person who sold me the tea I drank on my travels yesterday is my neighbour, and I have a responsibility to treat her with loving respect and to care about whether the cafe where she works pays her adequately. But the producers of the tea and the milk I have drunk are also my neighbours. I benefit from their labour – and I have a responsibility to care that they were paid fairly for it … and that they were not compelled to work in conditions that imperilled their health or wellbeing.

But are they the only people affected by my actions? Boiling the kettle required electricity – and hence the production of energy. The paper cup in which it was served required the felling of trees and the moulding of plastic. Were these actions undertaken responsibly? Or were they contributors – albeit minuscule contributors – to the climate change and degradation of earth’s natural resources that are causing difficulties for people around the world?

We live in a world that prioritises consumption – that constantly encourages us to focus on fulfilling our own desires and touches only briefly, if at all, on their impact on others and on the earth. But the command to love your neighbour requires us to take into account our daily choices’ impacts on our global neighbours and our common home, whose finite resources are so sadly overstretched.

At times seeking to live in a way that is mindful of our impacts may feel overwhelming. And certainly it can require an investment of time or energy, especially if we’re just starting to look at a particular area of our life. But we don’t need to be discouraged – there are plenty of fellow Christians (and others) walking alongside us who can help us along the way; issues can become clearer; and we can, by God’s grace, grow in courage and confidence. … and ask for forgiveness when we don’t get it right.

And this is not a joyless thing. To the contrary, trying to live in a way that is mindful of others and of the earth we share can bring tremendous enjoyment and a restorative awareness of connection with our fellow humans, the creation and God. Pray that God will guide us – and all people – along this way of life, for the good of our neighbours and ourselves.

How then shall we live?

There are so many ways in which we can act lovingly towards our global neighbours and creation – in a short piece one can just begin to scratch the surface. But for this week, we’ve chosen three areas where meaningful action can be easily taken in our everyday lives (the way we invest in these areas is also important, and will be the subject of a future reflection) – and we reflect on how a changed mindset may be helpful.  And, as these action points and suggestions may well be statements of the obvious for many readers, we end by providing some suggestions of books that explore the subject in more detail.

Energy

The Paris climate commitment to “pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C” cannot be achieved without a switch away from fossil fuel sources of energy. Christian Aid and Tearfund have teamed up in a practical initiative, which launched on Ash Wednesday, to help churches and individuals make the switch to 100% renewable forms of energy. The ‘Big Church Switch’ will use the buying power of all who register their interest to secure the best deal from the cleanest suppliers in the UK. A quote will be provided to the registered churches and individuals who then decide if they want to sign up.  ‘The Big Church Video Switch’ notes: “This small action is one of the biggest things your church can do to reduce its carbon footprint… By using clean, renewable energy the Church can demonstrate its commitment to care for our neighbours and for the earth – our common home”

Food

What we eat is potentially the most significant way we interact (albeit unwittingly) with our global neighbours and our common home. The science journal Nature reports that “The global food system, from fertilizer manufacture to food storage and packaging, is responsible for up to one-third of all human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions”. Agriculture on farms is responsible for about 13% of total global emissions, with animals releasing methane and the use of nitrogen fertilizers the most significant contributors. However, “Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted”, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) – a massive squandering of Earth’s finite resources. UNEP say, “Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes)”. What about figures for the UK? Here, UNEP report that around a third of all the food purchased each year is not eaten.

How might we act more caringly towards our global neighbours and God’s creation?

  • Eating more thoughtfully. A study of the carbon footprints of the real diets of more than 50,000 people in the UK found that the benefits of altering one’s diet “could be huge”: “if someone eating more than 100 grams of meat a day simply cut down to less than 50 grams a day, their food-related emissions would fall by a third. That would save almost a tonne of CO2 each year, about as much as an economy return flight between London and New York”. Similarly a study in the USA found that “Although food was not the biggest source of emissions, it was where people could make the biggest and most cost-effective savings, by wasting less food and eating less meat.”
  • The Love Food, Hate Waste website has some great ideas for cutting down food waste and recipes for leftovers.
  • Increasingly choose foods that fulfills at least one of the LOAF criteria – Locally produced, Organically grown, Animal friendly and Fairly Traded – an initiative of Green Christian (formerly Christian Ecology Link).
  • Look for labels: whilst the variety of labels signifying ethical sourcing can be confusing, some to look out for are the blue Marine Stewardship Council label (which signifies the seafood has been responsibly caught by a certified sustainable fishery), the Fairtrade mark, the LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) Marque (an environmental assurance system recognising sustainably farmed products) and the Carbon Trust footprint label (which indicates the producer’s commitment to measuring and reducing the resource footprints of the product).
  • Try growing more of your own food.

Paper

Ruth Valerio writes, “Our demand for paper is one of the key factors behind deforestation, which, in turn, is the second highest contributor to climate change, only behind burning fossil fuels” (L is for Lifestyle, p 114).

Great Britain is the world’s sixth highest consumer of paper and paperboard (2013 statistic) and, according to the Confederation of Paper Industries, “in the UK, we produce less than half of the paper we consume. In fact, the UK imports proportionately more paper than any other country in the world”.

So what actions might we take?

  • First, is to reduce our paper usage, reuse what we can and buy recycled paper.
  • Look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo on paper, timber and other forest products. The logo guarantees you are not contributing to global forest destruction. There is also an FSC Recycled label, which means the product has been made from at least 85% post-consumer reclaimed materials.
  • Cut down on the junk mail you receive by going to the Mail Preference Service where you can get your name taken off mailing lists.


A changed mindset

In their paper, “Overconsumption? Our use of the world’s resources”, Friends of the Earth write,

“In order to create a more sustainable and equitable world, regions with high levels of per-capita resource use, such as Europe, will need to sharply decrease their resource use in absolute terms.

More fundamental questions about economics, development and resources need to be addressed in the medium term. Most significantly, ‘How can new models of development be created in Europe and other industrialised countries that focus on well-being instead of increased production and consumption?’ This will require rethinking the role of economic growth and the links between resource use, quality of life and happiness”.

The need for “rethinking” and emphasis on quality of life is reminiscent of Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is – what is good and acceptable and perfect”.

It is very easy to get caught up in our current culture, which assumes constant consumption and acquisition are both good and necessary (how else can the economy grow?) – and hard to break away. But simply being abstemious – whilst clearly necessary given the parlous state of the planet – doesn’t seem sufficient response, because it is a negative “thou shalt not” type of response that can readily lead to debilitating guilt, feelings of failure and accusations of hypocrisy when well-intentioned resolutions are broken. Perhaps, instead, we can try thinking differently about how we live and what we consume. Rather than being consumers of “things” might we increasingly become “consumers” of culture, nature and friendship – not in a utilitarian way but in terms of where we take delight, find our identity and spend our spare time? Can we take to heart the injunction of Hebrews 15:5, “Be content with what you have” – perhaps literally looking at our possessions afresh and taking joy and pleasure in the good and lovely things we already have?

Suggested Reading

A very brief list – which undoubtedly leaves out many books that our prayer email readers have found useful! Do email us with suggestions, as we’re putting together an annotated list.

  • A Moral Climate: The ethics of global warming (Michael Northcott, Christian Aid/ Darton, Longman and Todd)
  • And God Saw That It Was Good (Carlo Carretto, Orbis)
  • Angels with Trumpets: The church in a time of global warming (Paula Clifford, Christian Aid/Darton, Longman and Todd)
  • Bible and Ecology: Redisovering the community of creation (Richard Bauckham, Darton, Longman and Todd)
  • Cherishing the Earth. How to care for God’s creation (Martin J Hodson and Margot R Hodson, Monarch Books)
  • Deep Economy: Economics as if the world mattered (Bill McKibben, Oneworld Publications)
  • How to Live a Low-Carbon Life: The Individual’s Guide to Tackling Climate Change, 2010 ed (Chris Goodall, Routledge)
  • Laudato Si: On care for our common home (Pope Francis, Catholic Truth Society or available online)

    Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future – See more at: http://catholicclimatemovement.global/books/#sthash.DT9PKVjX.dpuf
  • L is for Lifestyle. Christian living that doesn’t cost the earth  (Ruth Valerio, Inter-Varsity Press)
  • Planetwise. Dare to care for God’s world  (Dave Bookless, Inter-Varsity Press)
  • Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a finite planet (Tim Jackson, Routledge)
    Sustainability Toolkit (Quaker Peace and Social Witness)
  • When Enough Is Enough: A Christian framework for sustainability (ed. Sam Berry, Apollos)