Thousands of people will take action to help tackle Climate Change as part of the Church of England’s first ever official green Lent campaign, launched today (Tuesday 4th February) by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
Environmentalists, activists and climate experts gathered at Lambeth Palace for the official launch of LiveLent 2020 – a set of 40 daily reflections, actions and prayers.
It comes on the same day Prime Minister Boris Johnson officially launched the UK’s COP26 strategy ahead of the crucial UN climate talks in Glasgow in November, alongside Sir David Attenborough, climate expert Lord Stern and the outgoing Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney.
Those attending the launch were invited to add personal climate commitments to a ‘pledge-tree’, before a panel of expert climate academics, influencers and activists was chaired by the Archbishop.
#LiveLent 2020 is based on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book, Saying Yes to Life, by Dr Ruth Valerio.
Instead of giving up chocolate or alcohol for Lent, participants are challenged to follow a set of daily reflections, which correspond to chapters of the full Lent book for those wishing to go deeper. With children’s, youth and family resources also available, there is something to help every age group to get involved.
‘How much water goes into making a pair of Jeans?’ ‘Could you twin your toilet?’ ‘When was the last time you gazed at the night sky?’ and ‘What was the carbon footprint of the meal I just ate?’ – these are just some of the questions and topics participants will explore, with a different challenge every day.
Launching the resources, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:
“We urgently need to rebuild our relationship with our planet. To do this, we need to change our habits – in how we pray and how we act.
“Lent is not just about discipline. It’s about allowing Christ to show us what’s keeping us from loving and serving him – and joyfully letting it go.
“Whatever age you are, this Lent I hope you’ll engage with God’s plea for us to care for his creation, and that these campaign resources will help you on that journey.”
Dr Ruth Valerio, Global Influencing and Advocacy Director at Tearfund, and author of Saying Yes to Life, said:
“Responding to the poverty and environmental crises of our times goes right to the heart of what it means to be a Christian in today’s world – following God who calls us to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with him.
“My prayer for Saying Yes to Life and the Church of England’s #LiveLent campaign is that they would inspire in us a deeper love for our global neighbours and the whole of God’s creation, and would equip us to take action in our lives and in our churches.”
Joining Ruth Valerio on the expert panel chaired by the Archbishop were Dr Richard Millar, the Senior Analyst for Climate Science at the Committee on Climate Change, Dr Natalie Davies, who is @ZeroWasteDoc on Instagram with nearly 50,000 followers, and Ali Angus, who heads up the new eco-church at St Leonards Church in Streatham.
Last week, the Church of England announced that the General Synod would debate fresh targets to reach ‘Net-Zero’ carbon emissions by 2045, while the National Investing Bodies of the Church of England joined the UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance.
#LiveLent builds on the success of the Church of England’s most recent campaign, #FollowTheStar – Christmas 2019, which saw an increase in social media reach of 59% to 12.6 million from 7.94 million in 2018. The A Church Near You website saw a substantial increase in page views to 6.7 million during the month of December, with more than 25,000 services added to the site.
The #LiveLent reflections run from Ash Wednesday – 26th February – through to Easter Day (Sunday 12th April).
The #LiveLent booklets for adults and children are available from Church House Publishing. Anyone can sign up to receive the daily reflections free via e-mail, and from mid-February in an update to the #LiveLent app (for iOS and Android). Copies of these booklets can also be ordered via emailing email@example.com.
Daily audio reflections will also be accessible through the Church of England’s award-winning Alexa and Google Home smart speaker apps.
The Archbishop’s Lent Book has been produced annually for over 20 years. It is written by a different author each year. Saying Yes to Life by Ruth Valerio is published by SPCK. This is the first time a Lent book has been complimented by a wider Church of England digital campaign.
Photos: Steve Fanstone