On Friday, September 20, 2019, communities around the world will join in a Global Climate Strike. Building on the remarkable pattern of student strikes, people of all ages will stop work, leave homes, break routines, and join together in calling for rapid action on climate justice.
Eco-Justice Ministries invites and encourages people of faith to take part in the September strikes.
- Actively recruit members of the congregation to join the events on Friday. (A listing of strike events across the US is on-line.)
- Use church services on Sunday the 22nd to tell moral truth about the great climate emergency.
This page has suggestions and resources to help congregations with several possible ways of bringing the strike into Sunday worship. The website for the US Climate Strike has a designated page for faith resources with helpful materials. This page will be updated and expanded frequently in the weeks leading up to the Global Climate Strike.
Please let us know if your congregation will be doing anything related to the Global Climate Strike during worship time that weekend. Email Eco-Justice Ministries with the name and location of your congregation, and contact information for a key leader -- even if you're only exploring options right now. Thanks!
Some recent Eco-Justice Notes have dealt with this topic
Options for Sunday, September 22, 2019
- Take a "strike" from the Lectionary readings for the day (which are totally inappropriate for a climate emergency message!). Turn, instead, to readings from scientists and the global church as the focus of worship.
Let testimony from scientists and researchers tell truth about what is happening to God's creation as greenhouse gasses pollute the atmosphere and warp the global climate. Hear from denominational resolutions, theologians and church leaders about the moral imperative to act in this unprecedented situation. The environmental encyclical from Pope Francis is one possible source. On this day, too, let youth speak powerful truth about their experience, their perspectives, their fears and anger -- either in direct words from young members of the community, in videos, or in readings.
Perhaps build on those words of truth with a traditional sermon or homily. Or maybe this day "on strike" from the biblical texts could be an opportunity for other ways of "preaching" words of instruction, hope and challenge. A panel of concerned members, or words from a local expert, would be appropriate for this special service.
The climate crisis is unprecedented in all of human history. As one theologian wrote, "For the first time, our power to destroy outstrips Earth's power to restore." While the Bible has timeless wisdom about many things, it does not have a prophetic word about the astonishing new way that humans are distorting and destroying God's creation. Use this day to hear truth from other sources.
- Encourage youth -- or others with commitments to climate justice -- to interrupt the service with an enactment of the strike for that congregation, and take over the pulpit. (Obviously, this works best if the pastor knows it is coming, but some in the congregation are surprised!!)
Let the service begin as usual, then have protestors with signs and chants enter the church space. After a few minutes of disruption, leaders of the strike can be invited to the pulpit to explain their case. They can issue demands -- for the congregation to pay attention to the climate crisis, for political leaders to step up on the issue, or for other actions that are appropriate in that setting.
Those on strike can bring reports and demands from the global strike the previous Friday. They can bring challenging messages from scientists, theologians, and the global youth who have energized this movement with school strikes.
This staged strike should be planned in such a way that there is some sense of resolution -- a promise to keep addressing climate in church programs, for example -- without making the conflict and demands go away. A theological message of hope and challenge should be expressed toward the end of the service.
If it isn't possible to dedicate the whole service to the strike, consider less dramatic steps: having a young person from the congregation make a short presentation about youth and climate, or have some mention of the strike in that day's sermon, or include a special prayer, or just pause for a focused moment of silence.
Can't do anything in the sanctuary? Then gather some others and hold a "strike" with signs and information as people arrive for church! Or schedule a vigil (Sunday evening?) where people from the church and the community can light a candle and offer prayers.
In addition, or as an alternative, your church could lead into the strike on Sunday, September 15. The Lectionary reading from Jeremiah for that day might be a good starting place.
NOTE: One of our proposals is that churches "take a strike from the Lectionary readings for the day", and draw on other voices from science and faith communities. Churches that are taking part in the Season of Creation from September 1-October 6 will already be using an alternative set of readings with a focus this year on wisdom in creation. The theme for September 22 is "Cosmos Sunday" -- worship planners will have to be intentional about bringing the climate crisis and the global strike into that Sunday's liturgy.
Possible sources for contemporary readings (more links and text coming soon)
- Selections from the fall, 2018 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The report is very technical and cautiously phrased, so pithy and emotive quotes are hard to find. Carbon Brief has a listing of key quotes for a variety of topics.
- selections from Laudato Si', the enyclical from Pope Francis -- Eco-Justice Ministries has excerpted key paragraphs from the encyclical, and highlighted especially significant and quotable lines.
- Denominational and ecumenical statements on climate
- Climate witness from youth:
- An extensive packet of Unitarian Universalist worship materials for the Sunday before the strike weekend, including a number of readings and sample sermons
- "We Are On the Move" (see below)
- "Do It Now"
Sing for the Climate is a big singing manifestation that first took place on September 22 and 23 2012 in Belgium. More than 80.000 people in more than 180 Belgian cities and communities sang the song "Do it Now", urging politicians to take more ambitious climate measures both on local, national and international level. See a video from Sing for the Climate
- More music appropriate for the Climate Strike is coming soon!
Check back soon for more details!
We Are On the Move
Tune: We Shall Not Be Moved (No Nos Moveràn)
New words by Rev. Allyson Sawtell ©2019
Sing this only if you really mean it and will do it!
- We're striking for the planet. We are on the move. (Repeat)
Just like a river, flowing and unstoppable
We are on the move.
- We're striking for the future. We are on the move. (Repeat)
- We'll do way more than singing! We are on the move. (Repeat)
- We're going to fight the systems that tear apart our Earth (Repeat)
- We're going to keep on working, never giving up (Repeat)
- We're all in this together and we are on the move (Repeat)
NOTES for We Are On the Move:
- The music came from the old African American song "I Shall Not Be Moved." The words were changed to "We shall not be moved" for use by textile workers, and later the Spanish version ("No Nos Mover&agrqave;n") came from the United Farm Workers, and a Salvadoran union organizer who sought sanctuary in the US. -- "Rise Up Singing" a Sing Out Publication, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
- This song can still be sung even after the Global Climate Strike in September 2019. In the grand tradition of folk songs, simply change a few words in verse 1 & 2 – change "striking" to "fighting" or "working"