Our student chaplaincy intern PJ writes:
On Sunday 2nd April, as part of the 2017 Global Greens Congress in Liverpool, I arranged a service at St Bride's examining environmental issues from a fairness and justice point of view.
This year I’m the student worker for St Bride's and last year I was the co-chair of Liverpool Young Greens so this was a very important day for me! We’d hoped to have Jonathan Bartley come and speak but he and Caroline were on the telly – so I’ll let him off!
That Sunday was part of Lent, so we incorporated it into our Lent series looking at fairness and justice. One service was on Fairtrade issues and how we can help as a church and as individuals. Another week our vicar Mark spoke about the passage (John 4) where Jesus speaks to the woman at the well - he used this to talk about the ways in which Jesus was an advocate for gender equality, by talking to an unmarried woman, race equality by speaking to a Samaritan woman, and how Jesus addresses unjust structures, there are links to both of those talks on the St Bride's website so you can go and have a listen! The week before conference was Mothering Sunday so that week one of our church wardens, Cate, spoke about how it takes a village to raise a child and the role of community.
On ‘Green Sunday’ we didn’t do a proper talk but invited the congregation, which included many visitors from the conference, to think about various environmental issues as justice and fairness issues. We had scenarios including sea-level rise and air pollution as well as climate change generally. In many ways these were very easy questions with one very easy answer – these problems are caused by the wealthiest in our society and affect the poorest. The part that the groups found hard was thinking about responses, what is a Christian response to this injustice? And how could they as an individual respond?
The things that they would think of seemed inadequate - how could they help to create a fair, just and sustainable society in the face of such huge and seemingly insurmountable obstacles? One question was how can we respond to Christianity that supports Trump? A Christianity that denies climate change and seems to be directly contributing to global injustice? A Christianity that we profoundly disagree with? How can we communicate to a secular society that the Christ we believe in stood against inequality and fought for the downtrodden?
On Sunday it was not my job to answer those questions but I could remind everyone that down the road at the Global Congress were thousands of people, working across the world, to help create a just and fair society. As for what we can do, one suggestion was to join a political party! But also things like working with the Fossil Fuel Divestment campaign, which is a campaign that I really feel can challenge unjust structures, and gives me hope that we have a chance in this fight.
Being able to stand in front of the congregation not only as a Christian but also as a Young Green and chair a discussion about the Christian role in green activism, with people from around the world, was amazing. I think we all went away feeling inspired and ready to do everything in our power to create justice in our societies.