Wondering how to start or continue difficult conversations about climate change in your community?
Use CPJ's engaging resources to engage your faith community in reflection and action towards ecological justice.
These sermons and small group studies can help foster healthy dialogue about the causes and consequences of climate change. The songs and prayers can help open up space for understanding and accepting personal responsibility for the injustices of a changing climate.
Prayers & Songs
Small Group Activities
If you’d like help, CPJ is available to speak in churches. We can join you in person or via Skype – keeping things carbon neutral – to offer prayers, a workshop, or a climate justice homily. Contact Karri Munn-Venn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-232-0275, x. 223 to make arrangements.
Learn what your national church is doing and saying on climate change
Living Ecological Justice
Living Ecological Justice: A Biblical Response to the Environmental Crisis is a faith-based learning tool for Canadian Christians trying to live out the justice mandate to care and advocate for creation. Issues are explored through scripture with reflections, discussion questions, activities, and prayers by Canadian Christians from the Anglican, Catholic, Christian Reformed, evangelical, Lutheran, Mennonite, Presbyterian, and United church traditions.
With its public justice lens on the interconnections between ecological, social, and economic issues, this book provides new information, insights, and inspiration to those who are already active in the ministry of creation advocacy and care, as well as those who are new to the issues.
An excellent resource for individuals, small groups, and congregations. Order your copy now!
A Public Justice Frame for Creation Care
Several years ago, as the world prepared for the Copenhagen climate talks, CPJ asked the question, “Can a public justice lens frame the climate change debate?” The five norms articulated in response to this question continue to serve as the basis of our understanding of our Christian call to respond to climate change. And now, with some amendments, they inform our reflections on what is required in Canada’s climate action plan.
Intro: Understanding Public Justice
Throughout scripture we find stories that illustrate God’s love for all of creation, and instructions on the ways in which we are to share this love. From Genesis through the Psalms and the prophets’ laments to the New Testament message of renewal and life eternal we read of loving compassion, covenant and community, repentance and resurrection.
As Christians, we are to respect the dignity of every human being as image-bearers of God. We know that God gifts every person with both rights and responsibilities. A rightful claim to live in dignity, be respected by others and have access to resources needed to live out God’s calling. And, at the same time, a duty to act justly, care for creation and work for peaceful and just relations within society at all levels.
Public justice is the political dimension of loving one’s neighbour. “As CPJ understands the teaching of Scripture, the role of government is to promote just relations between people within God’s creation, correct injustice in a way that restores relationships, protect the environment and foster conditions that enhance the common good.”
1. Respect for Life and Love of the Earth
The creation story in Genesis reveals that God created this beloved world, declared it to be “very good,” and delivered it to the care of humans. To care for creation surely implies that the lands and seas and all God’s creatures are treated with love and respect. Many of us can think of moments spent before the awesome sights of nature – powerful storms, towering mountains, the immensity of the sea, and the beauty of a sighting of a new or rare species of animal – as times when the presence of the Creator seemed very real. They remind us of these words from the Psalms, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1), and God’s tremendous message of love in John 3, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” If human activities cause the warming of the planet, which in in turn drives species towards extinction, intensifies natural disasters and threatens human health, then it becomes an issue of life and love.
2. Advancing the Common Good
As Christians, we desire societal structures and institutions that benefit everyone – that is, they promote the common good. An important role of government, therefore, is to assist society’s varied layers and communities contribute to the well-being of society as a whole. Some authority is needed to ensure a healthy environment for all. The private sector certainly has a role to play in mitigating the effects of climate change, but history has clearly demonstrated that the unregulated market has not been able to respond to the climate crisis. The principle of the common good should come ahead of individual claims to profit, leisure and personal choice. And the common good surely does not mean that the people of Kiribati and Vanuatu, whose island homes are at risk of being swallowed by rising seas should be expected to pay for adapting economies to a low carbon future. Rather, adaptation strategies should be financed by the economies, like Canada’s, which have the greatest financial capacity, the greatest historic responsibility for the impacts of climate change – and which have already benefited from carbon-intensive development.
3. The Interconnectedness of All Processes
The discipline of ecology teaches that no one solution exists to any of the major issues humanity faces. Manipulation of one aspect of biology has repercussions for other aspects. Or, as the poet, Francis Thompson, writes, “we cannot stir a flower without troubling a star.” The same is true of societies. When we look again to Genesis, we are reminded that we, along with all of creation are made of the same dust. Recognition of the interconnectedness of all systems, all humanity, and indeed all life, has been incorporated into the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which seek to end poverty and hunger, defend the planet, promote prosperity, peace, justice. Put simply, the SDGs are designed to address poverty, social exclusion and ecological injustice.
As the moniker given to the SDGs suggests, another closely-linked principle is sustainability. As early as the Exodus story of the provision of manna to the people of Israel, God cautions against the human urge to take too much. Rather, according to the injunction in Luke 12:15, we should “guard against every form of greed.” Since future generations also have a right to the goods of creation, we cannot over-consume and deny our children and grand-children a healthy and secure life. Our economy, ecology, and society are all wrapped up in one another. We therefore need to take a holistic approach that considers the health of the economy, and also the well-being of plants and animals in the natural environment, as well as the sustainable livelihoods, lifestyles, and health of individuals, families, communities, and future generations.
5. Peace and Justice
Following on earlier themes of life and love, we know that we are called as people of God to be a people of gentleness, compassion, peace, and justice. The Covenant that God establishes with Noah and with every living creature reminds us of our invitation to just relations. The prophets too, urge us to seek justice. Sadly, though, beginning in 2007 (and for several years since) the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock closer to midnight not only because of nuclear weapons, but also due to the growing threat posed by climate change. As global temperatures rise and natural disasters become fiercer and more frequent, there is increasing competition for scarce resources, leading to mounting conflicts and climate-induced migration. More war means more weapons. To decrease the ecological destruction that all wars magnify, it is imperative that we come together to prevent the devastation that climate change wreaks upon the most troubled and defenseless corners of the planet.
Looking again to scripture, the passage that may best synthesize God’s divine invitation to love the Earth, seek the common good, respect the interconnectedness of everything, live sustainability, and promote peace and justice, is Matthew 25:40: ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Please, pray and act for climate justice - and engage your faith community in the same! We hope that these materials will serve as a guide as you express gratitude for the gift of creation, pray for those impacted by climate change, and also to pray for the leaders charged with making the policies that will shape our future.