Monday, September 9, 2019

Churches on Strike

When is the right time to tell the truth? Always, of course, is one answer -- but when there are many truths which need to be spoken, it is necessary to pick and choose the most opportune moments. Hate crimes and gun violence, looming threats of war and crises of immigration have an immediacy which may call us to speak out, to stand in witness, or to take other action in support of our values and beliefs.

When is the right time to tell the truth about the climate crisis? Because of the relentless and ongoing deepening of this crisis, there are few "breaking news" occasions that demand our voices. Every May, the global CO2 levels hit a record high, so we can schedule that annual lament well in advance. Major scientific reports, with their carefully couched language, reliably tell us that things are more urgent than we thought, but with so much detail as to deaden our reaction. Perhaps a massive hurricane, strengthened by climate factors, will inspire some to speak the truth of how climate is a "multiplier effect."

Or maybe, climate is just so big, so complex, so pervasive -- and in the US, so controversial -- that we'll never name the climate truth at all. That silence, I fear, is all too common in churches. Because, let's admit it, the cycles of the church year and the assigned scripture texts of the Lectionary will never force us to speak boldly and urgently about such an inconvenient truth.
There may be no mandatory, compelling moment where pastors and church leaders will feel a need to bear witness to the truth of the climate emergency. So we need to claim a manufactured moment to provide a suitable and timely occasion.

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.

Plans are still taking shape for the multitude of events that will center the Climate Strike on September 20. The website for the strike will list events by location sometime in the near future. You can "pledge to join" the strike to be sure to get updates -- and also to pledge your help in organizing a local strike.
It will be nice if you spread the word in your community about the upcoming strike, and invite members to take part. Put information in bulletins and newsletters. Put up a poster.
It will be far better and more productive if your community's leadership actively recruits members to take part in the strike. Talk to members one-on-one. Encourage people to be part of a church delegation. Set a goal for how many members you want to join the strike, and then work hard to exceed that goal.

The Global Climate Strike in September is an occasion that can call churches into that kind of engagement. Congregations can take part in the Friday strike events, and they can bring the truth of climate crisis into worship on Sunday morning.

By Peter Sawtell

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