Refugee Week and Refugee/Sanctuary Sunday: Prayer and Worship

What are Refugee Week and Refugee/Sanctuary Sunday?

Refugee Week is an annual “festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary.” The last Sunday of Refugee Week is celebrated by many churches as Refugee Sunday or as Sanctuary Sunday, which “aims to promote the Church of Sanctuary programme, building cultures of welcome, hospitality and safety in our churches”

How might we pray during Refugee Week?

This year, two groups have put together short readings and reflections for each day of Refugee Week – for individual reflection, small groups, or use in services.

  • Churches Together in Britain and Ireland’s Sanctuary: The Hospitality of Host, Guest and Stranger, written by Revd Dr Inderjit Bhogal and Dr Jayme R Reaves, offers a daily Bible passage, reflection, questions for futher reflection, action and prayer.
  • Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees has put together a collection of five stories, gathered from refugees and people walking alongside them, with a single reflection, action, and prayer accompanying each.

What resources are there for Refugee/Sanctuary Sunday?

If you have just a few minutes in your service ….

  • Choose a prayer from our suggestions below, or look for prayers from your particular tradition in our guide to online resources. Our Ukraine page has prayers in Ukrainian including the Lord’s Prayer and a simple Church of England liturgy of the word commissioned by the Diocese of Chelmsford.
  • Choose a reading from this list of Bible passages relating to refugees
  • Choose a hymn with an appropriate theme: there are suggestions in our guide to online resources. If you’re from a congregation that uses music videos for congregational singing or reflection, you might want to use Resound Worship’s Our God Was a Refugee or Welcome Churches Mercy Song
  • Show a video, such as the Welcome Churches’ (our online guide has other suggestions, too)
  • Ask someone from your congregation or community to share their story The most powerful stories are personal and local. In many of our churches and communities there are people who are active in walking alongside refugees. Asking them to share their story can be a real source of inspiration.

If you want some thoughts for the sermon …

  • All We Can has sermon notes for the Revised Common Lectionary readings in its full service materials
  • Also using the Revised Common Lectionary Readings, The Church of Scotland has notes and sermon suggestions written by people with lived experience of being a refugee and/or walking alongside refugees

 

If you’d like to dedicate your whole service …

If you’re looking for a whole service, if you’re a Methodist, you may wish to use the service that All You Can (formerly Methodist Relief and Development Fund) has produced for its supporters.

Guide to Online Worship Resources: Refugees and Forced Migration

Download these resources in pdf format

Materials for a full service

 

A great starting place from CTBI

A booklet “God with us – worship resources on the theme of refugees, migration and sanctuary” by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. Includes Bible studies, prayers, liturgies, songs, stories, ideas for young people and more.

 

Baptist Union of Great Britain

Welcoming the Stranger brochure with material including sermon notes, suggestions for hymns, prayers and readings, and Bible studies. Also contains practical information on helping and case studies of what churches have done.

 

CAFOD

Refugee solidarity liturgy based around the Lampedusa Cross. Also a powerful prayer pilgrimage for young people.

 

Christian Aid

Prayers – short and longer, and litanies on the theme of the refugees, a theological reflection on migration and a 3 minute video “Love the Stranger – a theological perspective”

 

Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe

Materials for a day of intercession in memory of those who lost their lives on the way to seek safety in Europe. Contains background information, prayers and worship idea.

 

Churches Refugee Network
Service outline for a vigil

Methodist Church

Worship resources focused on refugees and migrants: example of a church welcoming refugees, Bible study on the “Stranger”, prayers, suggestions for hymns (with references to the Singing the Faith plus website), Bible readings, and links to other materials.

 

Prayers, prayer stations, hymns and reflections …

 

Baptist Union

Refugees: a collection of prayers from different sources.

 

CAFOD

A collection of CAFOD’s considerable prayer resources relating to refugees.

 

CTBI

A variety of reflections and prayers are available on this dedicated page for Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (look especially at 28 April 2017, when a delegation went to Lampedusa and Sicily, and 25 December 2018 A Christmas Prayer for Refugees.)

 

Resound Worship

A worship song  by Joel Payne “Our God was a refugee”- audio recording, lyrics & chord chart available free; full score and MP3 to purchase.

 

The Stations

A collaborative project by Marksteen Adamson and Justin Brierley, Krish Kandiah, Lou Dawson, Oy Ralfe and Julie Tomlin, using the traditional fourteen ‘Stations of the Cross’ as a framework for Christian reflection on the journeys refugees make.

 

United Reformed Church

A hymn (2016) by Colin Ferguson ‘God travels with us’ that reflects on the experience of refugees moving in faith.

 

Bible readings and Bible studies …

 

Baptist Union of Great Britain

Welcoming the Stranger contains Bible studies focus on Mary and Joseph, and ‘Strangers and Aliens’

 

Bible Society

Series of 4 Bible studies (2016) ‘Refugees and the Bible – Welcoming the stranger’, with short (1-2 minute) video introductions

 

Church World Service (US)

A substantial collection of Bible verses relating to refugees and migration. Available as pdf and Word document.

 

Commitment for Life

Journeying Bible Study

 

Singing the Faith Plus (Methodist)

‘Refugees and the Bible – readings to explore’ An annotated list, explaining why passages have been selected and giving links to the actual readings.

 

USPG

Migration and Movement’ a six-week study course with Bible studies, stories and prayers.

 

Poems and other readings …

 

Brian Bilston

‘Reversible’ poem “Refugees”, which offers two perspectives on refugees and our response – a bottom-to-top reading challenging the attitudes found in a top-to-bottom reading

 

Videos …

 

Welcome Churches

https://welcomechurches.org/churches/refugeesunday/

Sign up to receive a Refugee Week inspiring video produced by Welcome Churches to share with your church on Refugee Sunday – which is also Father’s Day. The video tells some of the story of Asghar who arrived in the UK as an asylum seeker but has left his wife and children behind. The theme of the video is Together One Day.

 

UNHCR

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvzZGplGbL8

Who is a Refugee? 3 minute animation video sutiable for age 12+

 

CAFOD

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_P9huLYmS0

3 minute animation about forced migration, suitable for children, aimed at Catholics and encouraging supporting CAFOD to help refugees

 

Inscape Animations

https://inscapeanimations.com/roots-inscape-animation.html

9 minute beautifully drawn, reflective and thought-provoking animation, on migration from the earliest times, refugees’ experience, what makes us secure and our common roots

 

Home for Good

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MX9b1ldWpo

6 minute video (Jan 2018) by Dr. Krish Kandiah calling on Christians in the UK to welcome refugee children and young people in response to the war in Syria.

 

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

http://focusonrefugees.org/reflections-from-ctbi-group-who-visited-mediterranean-hope-refugee- projects-in-lampedusa-sicily/

Video of three participants (a Catholic, a Quaker and a Presbyterian) on the CTBI visit to Mediterranean Hope refugee projects in Lampedusa and Sicily (2017).

 

Jesuit Refugee Service/Mercy in Motion

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziz9a-2Zhvs

‘Open Minds, Unlock Potential’ Twelve minute video in which refugees speak in their own words about their experiences, interspersed with words of theological reflection from Pope Francis.

 

Theological resources to give background for preaching …

 

World Council of Churches

‘The Other Is My Neighbour: Developing an Ecumenical Response to Migration’ – theological reflection paper.

 

World Evangelical Alliance

http://www.europeanea.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Justice-and-Compassion-Responding-to- the-Refugee-Crisis-in-Europe.pdf

‘Justice and Compassion: Responding to the Refugee Crisis in Europe’ – sets out some basic context (as of 2015) and offers theological reflect

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    The House of Lords Amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill

    As the Nationality and Borders Bill goes back to the House of Commons, we have prepared a list of the amendments proposed by the House of Lords. We would strongly urge Christians to write to their MPs, asking them to accept these amendments.

    A list of the House of Lords Amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill

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      “How then shall we live?”

      And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?”
      In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”

      Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?”
      He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.”

      Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”

      As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,  John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

      So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.    Luke 3:10-18

       

      A society ill at ease, waiting for a saviour to redeem it, encounters the last of the prophets, coming from the wilderness. He preaches repentance and judgement, his extreme lifestyle giving credibility to his powerful words. Moved, the crowds ask him for guidance. “What then should we do?”

      John’s response is a very practical call to generosity, honesty and justice. Those who have more than they need are to share with those who have less. Tax collectors are to be honest – and to avoid the practice of gathering more than is owed so that they can keep some themselves. Soldiers are likewise to be satisfied with their wages and not to abuse their power for personal gain.

      His answers, which echo prophetic calls to justice throughout the Old Testament, fill the people with expectation – can this be the Messiah?

      No, responds John: he is the precursor. He baptises with water but will be followed by one greater than he, who will baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire.

      There’s an interesting symmetry between this passage and Acts 2, in which after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter preaches to the assembled crowds. Filled with the Holy Spirit, the apostle shares the message that the Jesus who was recently crucified has been raised from the dead and is Lord. Once again, the crowds are cut to the quick and cry out “What shall we do?”

      Peter’s response is a spiritual one: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

      But does that spiritual response mean that the old practical call is no longer important? Far from it. Rather, the disciples’ calling has been intensified in a way that flows from the transformation that God’s grace is working in them. “All who believed were together and had all things in common, and they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,  praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

      The new community is one of the deepest contentment, thanksgiving, generosity and justice.

      What of us, today? On the whole, our society – and often our lives and our churches – resemble the confusion of people coming to John in the wilderness more than the transformed community of the apostles. Whether it’s money, vaccines, food or access to education, our societies are riven with vast inequalities – and often a resistance to sharing. Corruption and violence make some wealthier, and others poorer. We see these things all around us … and all too often, we know them in our own hearts.

      And so we, like the inhabitants of the Holy Land at the time of Jesus, need to hear both John the Baptist’s and Peter’s messages. At the very least, John tells us, share if you have more than you need, be content with what you’re owed, and don’t seek to take from others to enrich yourself. As a sign of your transformed life, Peter tells us, go even further – treat all goods as no longer ‘yours’ but for the good of all, pray constantly, praise God and be thankful.

      How does this relate to Fair Trade?

      In many ways, Fair Trade speaks to some of John’s commandments. When those of us who can buy Fair Trade products to meet our needs, we turn our back on the exploitation practiced in so much mass production and turn towards a model that involves cooperation, care for the environment, safe working conditions and better pay. In doing so, we may find ourselves having to buy less. Fair Trade goods don’t necessarily cost more – and are often similar to the costs of other brands. But they are also rarely absurdly cheap, unlike some of the goods we see in shops, because the Fair Trade price costs in sustainability for people and planet. When we buy Fair Trade we accept that – and we don’t try to get more than we should by shortchanging our neighbours or the earth.

      But Fair Trade doesn’t just help us avoid exploitation. Ideally, it points us towards a transformed life in which all people are valued as precious, made in God’s image, and goods are shared so that no one is in need. Ideally, it reminds us of our mutual dependence on God, and helps us to see how right relationships – with God, the earth and each other – are more important than acquisitions … and the needs of our neighbours are more important than our ‘wants’. Ideally, it points us towards a transformed community.

      Pray that God may guide us, so that we make choices that foster right relationships. Pray that God will give us the grace to live out our love of God and neighbour – following the greatest of commandments.

       

       

      Picture: John the Baptist Preaching, John the Baptist Basilica in Berlin. By Beek100 – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3100267

       

       

       

       

      Afghanistan – Responding with Prayer and Welcome

      Responding to the cuts in UK aid

      What has been the recent level of the aid budget? And how and when was it cut?

      In 2015, the UK Government passed legislation committing the country to allocating 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) to aid. Reaching 0.7% of Gross National Product (GNP) had been a target set by a UN resolution in 1970; as of 2019, five countries had achieved it: Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and the UK, with Germany and the Netherlands the next closest, at 0.61% and 0.59% respectively.(1)

      Committing to aid at this level has made the UK a leader in development. It has been the third largest donor (behind the US and Germany) in absolute terms. And, while there have been conflicts about the nature of certain aid projects,  the UK has been responsible for significant achievements through both its bilateral aid and the donations it has made through multilateral institutions. Tearfund recently noted:

      “More than 11.3 million children have been given access to education … UK aid has also provided vaccinations to more than 67 million children in the last five years alone, protecting them against preventable diseases. The money has also helped 12 million people have access to clean, sustainable energy … Life-saving support and assistance has also been given to communities devastated by natural disasters, such as hurricanes and floods.”

      Because the amount of aid is linked to GNI, it would inevitably have fallen given the contracting in the UK economy in 2020. But in addition, in November of last year the UK Government announced that, in response to the fiscal issues caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, it would “temporarily” – though without any definition of timescales –  reduce the aid budget further, by moving from the legally binding commitment of 0.7% of GNI to 0.5%. Writing in the Financial Times, the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab,  expressed “regret” for the decision, but did not state when the target would be reactivated, commenting simply that it would be “as soon as the fiscal situation allows.” He noted that the UK was still one of the largest donors in the G7 in terms of percentage of GNI and that reaching the 0.7% target was something done only relatively recently.

      What concerns were raised at the time?

      There were widespread concerns about the fact that this was the breaking of a promise, a derogation from a legal obligation and from a manifesto commitment, and that the cuts were coming at a time when the aid in question was desperately by countries and communities that had themselves been battered by the pandemic.

      The Archbishop of Canterbury wrote: “The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, insists we are still giving lots. Perhaps, but to those whose projects are cut off — and to our reputation as trustworthy — that is not the point.” He cited a host of reasons for maintaining foreign aid. Some were moral, focused on the importance of keeping promises to the poorest and alleviating suffering. Some were political, relating to UK aid’s contribution to a rules-based order. And some were self-interested: at a time where Britain is embarking on a renegotiation of its global relationships, it needs stability for trade and development, recognition as a reliable partner, and the ability to tackle with others the global issues that face us all.

      The Sustainable Development Minister resigned in protest, writing:

      “I believe it is fundamentally wrong to abandon our commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on development. This promise should be kept in the tough times as well as the good. Given the link between our development spend and the health of our economy. the economic downturn has already led to significant cuts this year and I do not believe we should reduce our support further at a time of unprecedented global crises…”

      “Our support and leadership on development,” she continued, “has saved and changed millions of lives. It has also been firmly in our national interest as we tackle global issues, such as the pandemic, climate change and conflict. Cutting UK aid risks undermining your efforts to promote a Global Britain and will diminish our power to influence other nations to do what is right. I cannot support or defend this decision.”

      How are the cuts affecting countries suffering from conflict and hunger

      Four months in, what is the impact of the cuts on some of the countries with the greatest humanitarian needs? We can take as examples two countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo and Yemen.

      Democratic Republic of Congo

      The needs in the Democratic Republic of Congo have continued to escalate over the past year. A recent UN report stated that one third of the population – 27 million people – was suffering from high acute food insecurity with 7 million of those suffering from emergency levels of hunger. The causes include both “the slump in DRC’s economy and the socio-economic impact of COVID-19” and conflict, especially in the eastern provinces of Ituri, North and South Kivu and Tanganyika, and the central region of the Kasais.

      Such numbers are almost too big to grasp – but each of those millions of people is precious, made in the image and likeness of God. Some of them are young children, for whom malnutrition in the early years may lead to stunting, hindering their ability to reach their full potential.

      In the long term, development and security are key. In the short term, getting assistance – especially to those areas where there are large numbers of people displaced by conflict, with no source of food – is vital. As we were writing, MSF indicated that there were 26,000 displaced people living in huts around Boga; news came through of 21,000 displaced by an outbreak of violence in Kasai; colleagues in other areas speak of thousands of displaced families for whom they are trying to provide shelter, food, medical treatment, psycho-social and spiritual care.

      Against this background, it has been rumoured that the UK aid budget for the DRC will be cut by 60%  this year, from roughly £180 million to £72 million. Such cuts would be in line with what the One Campaign’s analysis suggested would be the consequence of the overall reduction in aid.

      Nineteen agencies working in the country have united to ask the Government to reconsider, stating: “As the second largest aid provider to the DRC, any cut to the UK aid budget will be a hammer blow to a country now facing multiple crises. But if the reports of a 60 percent cut are to be believed, this could mean entire communities lose access to life-saving humanitarian aid. The human cost of this decision would be devastating. We implore the UK Government to rethink this disastrous decision”  The Guardian quotes Benjamin Viénot, country director for Action Against Hunger, as saying: “I have never seen such malnutrition need as here. We are treating children with complications such as diarrhoea, malaria or eye disease. They cannot eat by themselves so they need therapeutic milk or sometimes a tube from their mouth to their stomach. It is very clear what will happen if these cuts happen. We will only have 80 of the planned 210 health centres. That is 50,000 children’s lives not saved. I have a very great respect for the Foreign Office, but I am not playing games about the consequences of these cuts.”

      Yemen

      The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen is one of the world’s most severe. This past week, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock delivered a briefing to the Security Council which was clear about his frustration with the situation – and the relative lack of international response.

      “The situation in Yemen – already the world’s largest humanitarian crisis,” he began, “is still getting even worse.” COVID had reappeared; health workers were getting ill; hospitals lacked space and supplies to treat people who came to them; vaccines had arrived, thanks to COVAX, but only 360,000 doses, far from sufficient to contain the latest wave.

      “This second wave,” he added, ” is coming at a time when large-scale famine is still bearing down on the country. Tens of thousands of people are already starving to death, with another 5 million just a step behind them.”

      “To stop this unfolding catastrophe,” he stated, “we urgently need action on the five points I brief you on every month: protection of civilians; humanitarian access; funding; support for the economy; and progress towards peace.”

      Some of these issues are primarily under the control of the warring parties in the country and region. But, he added:

      “On funding for the aid operation … more money for the UN response plan is the fastest, most efficient way to save millions of lives. Right now, agencies are able to help only about 9 million people a month. That’s down from nearly 14 million a year ago, and that’s essentially because of the funding cuts. As you know, on 1 March, we got promises of $1.7 billion at the pledging conference. That is, as you know, less than half of what we need. Of the pledges that were made, about half have been paid. So what that means is that today, the response plan is less than 25 per cent funded. So again, as I have said many times before, without more funding, millions of Yemenis will be staring down a death sentence before the year reaches its close”

      Part of that shortfall came because at the March pledging conference, the UK announced it was cutting its aid to Yemen by 60%.

      The decision to make cuts to Yemen’s aid has occasioned widespread condemnation. Andrew Mitchell, MP, a former Conservative Secretary of State for DfID, said it was “unconscionable” that “the fifth richest country in the world is cutting support by more than half to one of the poorest countries in the world during a global pandemic.” Calling it a “harbinger of terrible cuts to come,” he added “Everyone in this house knows that the cut to the 0.7 is not a result of tough choices, it is a strategic mistake with deadly consequences.”  On Tuesday, 20 April, the International Development Select Committee has scheduled a hearing to investigate the matter. An open letter from 101 charities commented: “”History will not judge this nation kindly if the government chooses to step away from the people in Yemen and thus destroy the UK’s global reputation as a country that steps up to help those most in need”

      How can we pray?

      Tearfund suggests the following prayer points on aid:

      • Pray that the government will have compassion on people living in poverty around the world and restore spending to previous levels quickly.
      • Ask for the UK government to look for opportunities to reverse the decision, and be transparent about how the remaining aid budget will be spent and what will be cut.
      • Keep in your prayers people living in poverty for whom this decision will impact the most. Pray for their protection, and for help to reach them so they are able to overcome poverty.

      In addition to praying generally, you might wish to pray quite specifically for your MP, and for a particular country. If you’re interested in praying for the countries we’ve mentioned, the Congo Church Association suggests prayers:

      • ·for the authorities to bring an end to this cycle of violence and atrocities, impacting every sphere of life
      • for peace so that people may return home and rebuild their lives
      • for church leaders, pastors, lay workers and Mothers’ Union members as they lead churches and reach out to their communities with compassion, care and the Good News of Jesus Christ.
      • for provision of care, food, shelter, and God’s blessing on the churches’ response

      What can we do?

      For the weekend of 6 June:

      Ring your MP or write them to express your support for an amendment which would reinstate the 0.7% commitment.

      You can use online forms from the Joint Public Issues Team or  Global Justice Now, or, use this blogpost and the CTBI briefing to compose your own letter (something you write yourself is always the most effective). And we’d be really grateful if you could let us know if you do it.

       

      (1) Actual percentages: Luxembourg (1.03%) Norway (1.03%), Sweden (0.96%), Denmark (0.72%) and the UK (0.7%). All data from OECD: https://www.oecd.org/dac/financing-sustainable-development/development-finance-data/TAB01e.xls

      Make COP26 Count!

      Make COP26 Count programme – April 2021

      The UN Climate talks this November in Glasgow, also known as the Conference of Parties or COP26 will bring together international leaders to tackle climate change.

      It’s a crucial meeting: countries have been invited to present updated national plans to cut emissions and to agree the last portions of the rulebook for the groundbreaking Paris Agreement, signed in 2015. Scientists have told us that we need ambitious and immediate action to meet the challenge the world faces. As part of the church’s mission, we need to make it clear that the time to act decisively on this issue is right now. We are therefore inviting churches to become part of a programme designed to help them take manageable and appropriate action themselves and to build constructive relationships for climate action.

      This isn’t about one-size-fits-all approaches. Make COP26 Count is designed to help you work out what your church should do – and to equip you to carry out your plans. It’s flexible to allow for different church situations and preferences for action. The aim is to provide a supportive structure to make whatever action you choose focused and doable.

      The programme understands action to be holistic – practical action is rooted in shared faith motivation. It will offer input from partners in other countries, bringing global perspectives to deepen our understanding of the urgency the world faces. The programme also acknowledges the political influence of the UK as hosts of COP26, which makes this year a particularly strategic time to mobilise our churches to action.

      A cohort of 30 churches began the programme in January. They have found the programme and the monthly calls invaluable in moving their church to action.  The success of this first group has spurred us to organise a second cohort.

      This cohort is being coordinated by Hope for the Future, Christians for Creation Care (an east London and Essex network) and Christian Concern for One World (an Oxford network).

      The programme combines the principles of –

      Connection

      Building relationships across participating churches, with global church partners, and within your church. These connections are a source of information and encouragement, facilitated by monthly Zoom calls, and groups on Microsoft Teams and WhatsApp.

      Inspiration

      The regular Zoom calls will often include guest speakers from churches in the global south.  By learning more about how climate is affecting their communities, we will develop a deeper understanding of the urgent need for action.

       

      Commitment

      Churches are asked to identify which action they will take and focus on meeting these goals within the set time frame. Hope for the Future, Christian Creation Care and Christian Concern for One World bring practical support, training and access to expertise to make this possible.

      What will the programme look like?

      Churches will be asked to name two lead participants who will report back to their church. Participants will:

      •       Commit to the regular calls
      •       Plan and undertake a particular action with their church
      •       Share in the exchanges of information and inspiration among participants

      Calls

      The centrepiece of the programme will be the regular Zoom calls, when we’ll have a chance to be inspired. There will also be additional sessions which focus on how to build   constructive relationships with politicians in order to create change. These will be run by Hope for the Future, who are a leading agency in this field.

      Information about regular guests to the Zoom calls will be given closer to the time.

        Regular Zoom Calls

      Mondays, 7.30pm

      Additional Sessions and information

      Main months of action are May – July

      April 26th – Introduction Three weekly schedule
      May 17th Monday 24 May: Session 1 on creating constructive relationships with politicians. Attend either 11am or 7.30pm.
      Jun 7th  Monday 14 June: Second political session. Attend either 11am or 4.30pm
      June 28th  
      July 19th  
      Aug Break  
      Sep 13th Close and joint celebration with first cohort
      Oct    
      Nov   COP26

      What sort of actions could my church take?

      Each church will choose actions that are relevant and appropriate for their particular congregation. Some churches are choosing to become an Ecochurch; some are focussing on hosting a Climate Sunday event; some are using energy footprint tools to completing an Energy Audit of their church and create a plan to reduce emissions to Net Zero by 2030; others are hosting an energy switch day event (moving energy providers to renewable energy); all are encouraged to meet their MP to discuss COP26.

      How to join

      As a first step, we are asking all churches to identify a primary and secondary contact, and get agreement from their church leadership to participate in this programme.  Hope for the Future has learned that securing the support of the church leadership at the outset is crucial for any successful action.  Please contact us for a link to the application. 

      I’m an additional named contact, what’s my role?

      Please feel free to participate as fully as you can in the programme – everything is as open to you as it is the lead contact. However, we would like to keep attendance at monthly calls as consistent as we can, so if you don’t want to commit to the calls, you can speak with your lead contact. Other than this, it is very much up to individual churches to arrange how you want to organise your participation in the programme and divide up steps you need to take to act together as a church.

      How will this programme have an impact – especially politically?

      You will find out far more about this at the political training sessions in May and June. But broadly speaking, meeting with MPs is the best way to get them to take action (MPs largely ignore campaign emails). Hope for the Future has gained lots of experience in facilitating MP meetings to secure concrete action (some of our best work has been with Conservative MP Alex Chalk who then introduced the Net Zero legislation into Parliament – we’ll talk through some other examples in the training too).

      MPs are often keen to engage with churches because they represent a wider group than just an individual. They are also not necessarily associated with environmental concerns (unlike local campaigning groups) so this gives churches additional influence in this area.

      Can this be taken further?

      Of course! To some extent, how far the programme goes is dependent on participant churches. There is opportunity and welcome of action taken as a cohort rather than by individual churches. Suggestions to date from individuals on the programme: engaging with the press, contributing collectively to a new or already existing campaign. It may be that some or all of the participant churches join in with other planned events.

      Search your heart and choices – individual

      One of the glories of the Christian faith is that our awareness of God’s love and forgiveness means that we can look at ourselves honestly – seeing the gifts that God has given us and knowing that when we find things that need mending, we can bring them to the God who forgives us, heals us, and sustains us on new paths.

      In this section, we take time to know ourselves – the way we feel and think, the gifts of expertise and experience that we have, the reality of our lifestyle impacts, and the choices behind them – so that we can offer our whole selves to God for transformation.

      The Ignatian tradition of spirituality makes use of something called the ‘Examen’ – a way of reflecting on daily life to see where one has encountered God and to gain a sense of God’s direction. It is a daily practice with five basic steps (summary taken from the Ignatian spirituality website)

      1. Become aware of God’s presence.
      2. Review the day with gratitude.
      3. Pay attention to your emotions.
      4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
      5. Look toward tomorrow.

      The  first two steps on the Journey of Hope and Love reflect the first two steps of the Examen. Now we come to paying attention to our emotions … the way we think … and what we are actually doing.

      The process below is something that you might want to do in a single session, or to spread out over time (do try to do steps 1 and 2 together). Whatever you do, don’t rush it. These are important questions, and you need time for them.

      Step 1:  What gives me joy or hope? What breaks my heart? 

      What things about our world – creation as God’s gift and the current situation in which we find ourselves – make me rejoice or feel hopeful? What are the things that break my heart?

      You might want to take the time to write down a list – with space for adding things as you continue the journey. Look at the list. What does it tell you about yourself? What is most clearly moving you? Is it the experience of beauty or destruction? A new development – positive or negative – in knowledge? Something relating to your faith? Something about other relationships?

      What, when you reflect on it, have you not mentioned that you wish you had?

      For some people, this may be a challenging exercise, as they are moved by what the Ecological Examen calls “the splendor and suffering” of all that is around us. Try to make sure that you find occasions for joy and hope, even if they are small ones. If you feel overwhelmed, stop, and lay that before God.

      You might also find helpful the introduction to the Anvil edition on Hope – which speaks of hope being something that comes through suffering and perseverance.

      At the end, lay your emotions before God as an offering of yourself, thanking God for creating and loving you and all around you, and asking for the grace to be shown how God is calling you through your emotions, experience and knowledge.

      Step 2: How do I feel God calling me through both joy/hope and grief?

      What do I feel God saying to me as I lay my emotions out in prayer? When do I feel drawn closer to God? When do I feel a sense of distance?