Category Archives: Climate Change

Sermon by Paul Magnall – 4th June 2017

Notes from the sermon by Paul Magnall on 4th June 2017 – Pentecost and Environment Sunday (there was a PowerPoint presentation as well)

Reading:
Psalm 104
Mark 4:30-34

Good morning. No apologies but “there now follows a party political broadcast on behalf of…”

I hope I don’t offend anyone, but if I do it is not intentional! I need to point out that there will be political content and you will probably guess my politics (see the colour of the slides!) but I am not here to tell you how to vote. What I will do is to encourage you to join the debates around the election and to make your voice heard by voting on Thursday.

This Sunday is Pentecost, it is the Sunday when we celebrate the working of God’s Holy Spirit and, in particular, when God poured out His Spirit onto His followers days after Jesus had ascended into Heaven.

This Sunday is also Environment Sunday when we celebrate God’s Creation and how we look after it.

Today I am going to combine the two!

There are many images of the Spirit of God, a white dove, a wind, tongues of fire but one of the earliest is as breath. The Hebrew word is Ruakh and has many interpretations, is it gentle breathing or a passionate snort? Or maybe both?

The Bible talks of God as Spirit right from the very beginning – “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” Genesis 1:1-2

We then see God breathing life into a man made from the dust of the ground.
So the image of the Spirit of God is there in creating and in bringing about life.

The Spirit of God also brings change and disruption. In a story harking back to breathing life into a man made from the dust of the ground, Ezekiel is told to prophesy to the dry bones in the middle of a valley and they all join together but are still lifeless. Ezekiel is then told to prophecy to the breath and God breathes life into the bones (Ezekiel 37)

And throughout the Old Testament the Spirit of God comes upon people inspiring them to do great, crazy, disruptive things in order to bring people back to God’s ways of justice and love.

In the New Testament we see Jesus, full of the Spirit of God, preaching, teaching, performing miracles which change and disrupt people’s lives, showing and challenging them to live in peace and harmony, to stand against the injustices of the time, to love one another even if they were the equivalent of Conservatives, or Liberals, or UKIP supporters, or Labour or Greens, even if they were oppressors or murderers.

And then, on the day of Pentecost, more change, more disruption. The Spirit of God falls on the followers of Jesus and they go out preaching and teaching about the Good News of God’s Kingdom – of love. And the disruption was so much that many people “devoted themselves …. To fellowship” and “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” What a huge disruption!

Second Reading: Mark 4:30-34

I think that the parable of the mustard seed is all about disruption. No one in their right mind would have planted mustard in their gardens in the days of Jesus, in fact it was seen like we see invasive species today, I believe they even had laws about planting it. Once planted it took over everything, like bindweed or goose grass but possibly even worse! So when Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God being like a mustard seed, was he saying that even a tiny little thing like a mustard seed could cause incredible disruption?

So, what about the Environment? It doesn’t seem to be getting any press these days! (Picture of Trump)

When God saw His finished Creation he didn’t just think it was good, He thought it was Very Good (Genesis 1:31), so much so that he took time off to relax and enjoy it!

But if I think about breath and creation now, what do I think of? I think of choking
– Choking on air pollution
– The seas choking on plastics and chemicals
– A world where animals are being choked out of existence
– A world where human beings are choking on the injustices that we impose on them.

Instead of a world where we have everything in common, where we have Fair Share (Permaculture ethic!), instead we have a world of greed and destruction:
– We make money out of armaments which exchange hands again and again and are used indiscriminately aroundthe world to kill and maim people and to destroy the environment that we depend on for life
– We extract as much out of the ground and air as we can with little or no thought of the consequences
– When we think we have got everything out of the ground we find other ways of getting stuff out of the ground, even if it is not economically viable! We seem fixated on Fracking!
– We continue to pollute the air that we breath even though we know that we don’t have to and that it makes us ill and it kills us
– We pollute our water with plastics and chemicals doing untold damage to the life in the sea that sustains us
– We continue to erode the very soil that we are dependent upon for growing our food
– And of course, there is climate change.
And we do most of these things, not through ignorance but through greed. It is done to make some of us rich but it makes the world a poorer and more unsafe place to be.

So, on this Pentecost Sunday, where do we see the work of the Spirit of God in all this? Where is His disrupting influence?

To find out we can stop and look and observe
– where Life is being enhanced and celebrated, where life is being breathed.
– And we can look at where there is disruption and change for the better.
– In Permaculture we have a principle about observing (which I have spoken about before) and we have a principle that we should “Use edges and value the marginal” – it is at the edges and boundaries that things happen, where it is most fertile for change. Even the Franciscans were aware of this – St Francis wanted us to live a life on the edge of the inside—not at the centre or the top, but not outside throwing rocks either. ( https://cac.org/at-home-in-the-world-2017-06-02/ )

So here are just a few of the places where I think the Spirit of God is at work, breathing new life and bringing about change and disruption for the better:
– David Attenborough, educating us about the wonders and the fragility of Nature and that we are part of Nature
– Children growing up and learning about nature
– Caroline Lucas and the Green Party, a smallish voice speaking out for the Common Good
– Green Peace, protesting against the damage that we do to the planet
– Protestors such as the Anti-Fracking groups who make us aware of the damage Fracking causes and the fact that we don’t need to do it.
– People growing their own food in ways that work with Nature rather than against it eg Agroforestry and Forest Gardens
– People helping to reclaim the deserts and marginal lands that we have abused
– The Permaculture movement
– Climate change talks and agreements
– Emanuel Macron and other politicians who stand up for the planet
– And there are loads more! So be encouraged!

So, what little things can we do that might be part of God’s ongoing work in creation, of building God’s Kingdom of love and justice, Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share?

Every little thing helps. I’m going to suggest a few simple and relatively easy things that came off the top of my head
– A vote on Thursday (assuming that you are voting for the correct party!)
– Using a bar of soap instead of plastic bottles of liquid soap – this reduces packaging, waste, weight of material transported, and natural soaps will be even more environmentally friendly. I use soap made from goats milk!
– walking or cycling or using public transport instead of driving, or even car sharing
– growing some of your own food, even if it is just a few strawberries

Over to you – I challenge you to think of something, little or big, that you can commit to doing over the next year, write it down on a piece of paper and then come and put it on the balance at the front. Let’s see if we can tip the balance!

References:
– For natural soap bars I use http://itsbaaathtime.co.uk/ in particular I like the Chunky Baa
– Toothbrushes – if you google bamboo toothbrush you will find many suppliers. Look for one who supplies them with biodegradable bristles then you can throw the whole thing into the compost bin when you finish with it.
– Journey of a toothbrush video – https://youtu.be/Pd_C3YK3kI4
 Permaculture Principles

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Zero Carbon Yorkshire Launch

Following on from our thinking about Climate Change in the lead up to the Paris Climate Summit here is something that you might be interested in:

Zero Carbon Yorkshire Launch

Leeds Civic Hall, 27 February 2016, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

After Paris – Where Now?

In the aftermath of the Paris Climate Summit , one thing seems clear – above all, it is grass-roots action at the local level that will change the political climate to make real, transformative action possible.

Schumacher North, together with partners and supporters across the Yorkshire region, are now launching a Zero Carbon Yorkshire movement to make sure Yorkshire is among the first UK regions to formulate and deliver a viable Zero Carbon strategy.

We want to work with activist groups, local authorities, businesses, public sector bodies, universities and individuals in every Yorkshire city, town and district to design local Zero Carbon Plans, and combine these into a regional strategy that will command huge public support – then start to put it into action.

To do this, we need your help!

We are calling on climate activists, concerned citizens, business people, local politicians of every stripe – basically everyone! – to join us on February 27th for a day of Open Space conversation to help us create a vision for a better, cleaner, greener Yorkshire that will be free of fossil fuels in the shortest possible time – providing an example for all other UK regions of what needs to – and can – be done if we are to tackle the 21st century’s greatest challenge.

Please join us, tell all your friends, visit the new Zero Carbon Yorkshire website, join the Facebook group – and book for the event at:

https://zcylaunch.eventbrite.co.uk

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Transition at COP21

Many of you will have been following COP21 in the news and may have felt, like me, that the coverage was poor, the talking was dull, lacking passion and reality. Here is coverage by members of the Transition Movement who I have spoken of before, and in particular by Rob Hopkins, co-founder of Transition Town Totnes and the Transition Network. I hope you find encouragement and hope in amongst some of the craziness.

Paul

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Leeds People Pilgrimage

Globally millions are taking to the streets to stand up for climate justice on the eve of the COP21 Paris climate change talks.

On Saturday 28th November the Leeds Peoples’ Pilgrimage is happening in Leeds. Groups of people are walking together from different areas of Leeds to meet for a service at Leeds Minster and then joining the Climate March and Rally.

There are groups walking from Kirkstall BridgePark Halt on the Middleton RailwayTemple Newsam and Meanwood Park

Peoples Pilgrimage Flyer Nov 2015

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Climate Change Prayer

From Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Join us in praying that world leaders act with compassion and courage, to reach an agreement that will protect our children and our planet.

Creator God,

You have called us to be keepers of your Earth;
Through greed, we have established an economy that destroys the web of life. We have changed our climate and drown in despair.
Let oceans of justice flow,
May we learn to sustain and renew the life of our Mother, Earth
We pray for our leaders, custodians of Mother Earth;
as they gather in Lima at the climate talks
May they negotiate with wisdom and fairness,
May they act with compassion and courage,
and lead us in the path of justice for the sake of our children and our children’s children.

Amen

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

From “Our Voices” – Bringing faith to the climate talks

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Sermon 22nd November 2015 – Pippa Woodhams and Paul Magnall

Notes and some images from Sunday’s sermon

Climate Change – Am I Bothered?

Readings:
Job 28:1-11; 20-end
Matthew 7:7-14

Paul
I’m sure you all know a lot about it, it is in the press all the time at the moment but I would like to do a quick summary.

What is Climate Change?
– When we talk about climate we usually mean the average weather over a period of time, usually about 30 years. We can talk about local climate and global climate. Even micro climates like a walled garden. Climate changes gradually over time but what we are seeing at the moment are big changes in local and global climate across the globe.

What causes Climate Change?
– The climate is a very complicated system and scientists have built huge computers to model it and try and understand it. It helps them to predict the weather in any part of the world and they are getting pretty good at it – honest!
– Climate change is occurring because we are disrupting the complicated systems. The most talked about is Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. We burn carbon based fuels, mostly fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas which releases into the atmosphere carbon dioxide that has been trapped for millions of years. These greenhouse gases let sunlight in through the earth’s atmosphere and this sunlight warms up the earth’s surface, just as it has been doing for millions of years. However, the heat radiated off from the earth’s surface is less able to escape back out into space because the greenhouse gases trap more of it. The result is that the temperature in the atmosphere rises a bit. Even small changes in average temperature can have significant effects on these complicated systems leading to changes in the flow of air and water in our atmosphere. The climate becomes less stable with more extreme events occurring.

What will happen?
– As a result of warming, systems that we have relied on for centuries are changing. For example, there is the Gulf Stream, a powerful flow of warm water heated in the Gulf of Mexico that flows across the Atlantic towards Britain. It is driven by cold water from the Arctic sinking down and being replaced by the warm water from the Gulf. It keeps us about 9C above the average temperature for this latitude. It is also the source of strong cyclones.
– The melting of huge amounts of ice in the North Atlantic is altering this flow, the Gulf Stream may not be as stable, we could lose out on our warm blanket and find ourselves having much colder winters and more extreme weather.
– Melting ice will lead to a rise in sea levels. You may have read articles this week that say that it won’t be as bad as some scientists have been predicting because they think that the Antarctic ice cap won’t melt as much, but there is still going to some melting.
– And these articles were talking about the contribution to sea rise due to melting ice. They chose to ignore the rise in sea levels due to the expansion of water in oceans due to warming.
– Sea levels rise and will impact on islands like the Maldives. The Maldives are a string of coral islands in the Indian Ocean which some scientists predict will be inundated completely within 30 years. Three of the archipelago’s 280 inhabited islands have already been evacuated, and a new capital, Hulhumale, is being built on a reef bolstered with sand. When completed in 2020, it should house close to half the country’s current population of 340,000. But for how long?
– In Fiji, islands in the Pacific, the government has initiated a campaign called “Migration with Dignity”, as they face up to the fact that many Pacific islanders will in future have to leave their homes. This is due to many factors, including sea level rise, coastal erosion, saltwater encroaching into drinking water areas, and ruined crops. The Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, says: “We in the Pacific are innocent bystanders in the greatest act of folly of any age. Unless the world acts decisively in the coming weeks, the Pacific as we know it is doomed.”
– Low lying coastal land will gradually disappear under water, in some countries this land is the flood plains of rivers and is where most of the food is grown. In India alone it is estimated that a 1m sea level rise will displace 7.1 million people and cover over 5700 square km of land
– Climate chaos, the disruption of seasons, the loss of fertile land, all this is going to affect our ability to grow sufficient food as harvests will be reduced.
– Mountain glaciers, source of drinking water and irrigation, are melting more rapidly, this will affect our water supply, the seasonal flow of rivers and may lead to more flooding and droughts.
– Marginal land will become desert
– Many articles in the news and media predict the migration of large numbers of people

But it is already happening
– Between 2008 and 2013, some 140 million people were displaced by weather-related disasters with countless others being displaced by gradual climate change such as persistent droughts, sea-level rise, etc. These are “climate refugees”
– Syria crisis has been fueled by large numbers of people fleeing areas of drought which was probably caused by Climate Change due to Global Warming http://www.upworthy.com/trying-to-follow-what-is-going-on-in-syria-and-why-this-comic-will-get-you-there-in-5-minutes
– If we believe that we are called to live lives of justice and peace then we need to take these issues seriously because how we live affects the life of our planet and those who live on it. These are issues of faith and justice. Our God calls us to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with Him.

am i botheredSo, back to the question – Climate Change – Am I bothered?

You bet I am!

Can I do anything about it?

Yes

Pippa
Next weekend a very important international Summit is taking place in Paris. This is one of the greatest chances we have had so far that the governments of the world will agree to united action to achieve a legally binding universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2 degrees centigrade. People all over the world are taking the opportunity, next weekend, to tell their governments, through marching and protest, that this is important to them, and that they demand action be taken. On Saturday, as part of this, there is a great Peoples’ Rally at 3.00pm. in City Square. United action by the churches, is organising Pilgrimage Walk from the four corners of Leeds, to the Minster for a Service of prayer and commitment beforehand, before marching to the Rally. I do hope you can join in this event, as a way of making your voice heard on this issue. Get in touch with Sarah if you are interested.

Ecological Conversion: a spiritual response to climate change

How do we respond to climate change and the devastating environmental damage which our way of life is wreaking on our planet? Is it something you can engage with, or do you recoil at the immensity of the issue and your powerlessness to effect change?

I’ve been on a bit of a faith journey myself on this issue, and it has challenged the roots of my faith, and the depths of my emotions. I’d like to share a little with you.

Jan and Heston have shared a little of what it means to take St Francis seriously. Saint Francis has been described as, “the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable, and of an integral ecology, lived out joyfully and authentically… a model of the inseparable bond between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.“ It’s this inter linking of faith, justice and care for the earth which has caught my faith imagination. We are challenged by something which is not just an issue, it is uncomfortably, at the heart of the gospel, requiring us to enlarge our vision of God and our relationship with others.

One unlikely link can be found in the word “ecology” itself. The root eco- comes from a Greek word oikos and is an element of the words ecology, economy, and ecumenical. Oikos means “house’, so these three words mean respectively, “study of the house”, “management of the house”, and “universal house”.

Are we studying about or managing well what the Pope recently called “our Common Home”? Firstly, to take care of something, we need to love it deeply. So many of us live busy, city based lives, to the extent that loving people different to us becomes difficult, never mind loving other species, landscapes or woodlands. We are pretty much detached from the natural world.

A group of us have been trying to counter this by meeting monthly at Meanwood Farm to observe the farmland around us, within the centre of the city, searching for footprints of God there. As the months pass, we think about myths and saints, and watch the seasons, letting these soften our hearts, and strengthen our resolve to become informed and involved with efforts to discover sustainable lifestyles for ourselves and our planet. This is a struggle! The World Wildlife Fund has a quick calculator to critique your lifestyle, and tell you how many of our earths your life needs to resource it. I have been to Australia this year to visit my only grandchild. My lifestyle needs the resources of more than three of our planets to keep it going. Who in the world is losing out because I am taking more than my share? Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The quality of our life is measured not by our achievements, but by the kind of world we will leave to our grand children”. Do I have to decide between either relating to my grandchild or not seeing her, but leaving her a world worth living in?

We live in an incredibly fragile earth. I have observed this just a hundred yards from my home. Last spring the season got out of kilter as cold winds and rain washed insects and grubs off the leaves, and hundreds of baby birds died. Magpies were the winners here, feasting off the dead birds, and now they are the ones starving, as their large numbers mean there is not the food to go round. This is not illustrating climate change, but does show what a fragile web of life we live with, and how easily it becomes unbalanced.

I’ve only noticed these things, because I have been sensitised to beauty in the last three years, having moved house a very small distance, to a place in which I felt myself being profoundly changed by a life slightly more in contact with the natural world. But most of the time we have to learn about our environmental influence on the planet by listening to other people. I’d like to bring you a message from the President of Fiji, an island in the Pacific. People there are suffering the effects of climate change, now, it’s not just an abstract injustice to them. The government has initiated a campaign called “Migration with Dignity”, as they face up to the fact that many Pacific islanders will in future have to leave their homes. This is due to many factors, including sea level rise, coastal erosion, saltwater encroaching into dinking water areas, and ruined crops, The Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, says:
“We in the Pacific are innocent bystanders in the greatest act of folly of any age. Unless the world acts decisively in the coming weeks, the Pacific as we know it is doomed.” The World Health Organisation estimates that between 2030 and 2050 globally, climate change will directly cause around 250,00 deaths.

Indirectly, climate change is multiplying death and destruction in complex ways. There is a clear line of argument that the Syrian conflict would not have exploded in the way it did, had it not been for the civil unrest and overcrowding in Syria’s cities. This had been caused by mass migrations from outlying rural areas, following six years of extreme drought, crop failure and the death of nearly 85% of livestock, directly related to climate change. A million people lost their farms, and moved into the cities, which triggered water shortages and social unrest. Many deaths later, we are seeing how this tension is multiplying across the middle East, and overflowing into Europe.

Pope Francis wrote an open letter this summer, called Laudate Si (“Praise Be!”) – On the Care of Our Common Home. He said,
“Generally speaking, there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. (and WE are a church who pride ourselves in seeking out the excluded) Yet they are the majority of the planet’s population, billions of people… Today we have to realise that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates about the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

Can WE sensitise ourselves, through prayer, to the cry of the earth: understanding and appreciating the beauty of the fragile webs which keep our planet in balance? Can WE sensitise ourselves, through prayer, to the cry of the poor: understanding the need to change OUR hearts and lifestyles to enable ALL around the world to live in a sustainable way? These are some gospel questions which an understanding of climate change encourage us to face.

Is there hope for our world? Some people say we have passed the point of no return, too many people are already living the effects of man made climate change and our addiction to consumerism is too great to turn around in time to save a planet we would recognise. But I see signs of hope just in the initiatives which this Climate Summit have thrown up around the world. Whether it be theologians challenging our too-small views of God, engineers like one I met recently designing new means of desalinating seawater, architects, builders, and city councillors – many coalitions of people are challenging established wisdom and presenting the climate summit with new ways of being. Some cities in Britain, and many around the world, have decided to pull out of investing in fossil fuels. Other ordinary people like you and me are living in new ways already, and many are travelling to Paris to make their views known in mass protest.

What can we do. Sometimes it feels, very little, and the whole problem is overwhelming. The Pope again: “Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it.” Prayer and curiosity. Not being afraid to face this issue. Taking on suffering. A spiritual shift in our view of our place in the world.

We can and will pray, that there will be a fruitful outcome to the climate summit.

Another pope, Benedict 16th linked our personal spirituality to the ecological crisis, “The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast.” For this reason, the ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion… So what we all need is an ‘ecological conversion’, whereby the effects of encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in relationship with the world around.

We can begin to bring about this “ecological conversion” which will change our relationship with Jesus forever, through learning, studying and praying for personal transformation, and that there is still a chance that together, our world society can find peace and true sustainability.

Paul
The best thing for our planet and its inhabitants would be if we left fossil fuels in the ground. We need to find a way of transitioning the way we live so that we don’t contribute more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. This doesn’t mean going back to the stone age or middle ages. The Transition Movement is showing us the way, we can live our lives differently but still have satisfying, meaningful lives and know that we are contributing to the well being of the planet rather than screwing it all up!

A few weeks ago Lydia talked on how we are all consumers and that, as God’s children, we should take responsibility for how we spend our money and how we consume.

A book I am reading at the moment talks about how each we pound we spend is a vote. We may only be able to vote for our government once every five years but each time we spend money we are making a vote.vote

If we purchase food which required huge amounts of carbon based fuel to grow it then we are voting for a continuation of the industrial food system that contributes heavily to global warming and environmental destruction.
If we grow some of our own or buy locally grown, organic food – although probably costing a bit more – we are voting for a food system that contributes to food security and builds local community.

If we choose to drive our car everywhere we go then we are voting for a continuation of our destructive transport system.
If we choose to car share, take the bus, cycle or walk then we are voting for a transition towards a lifestyle that is less dependent on the personal car and for a better transport system.

If we buy our gas and electricity from a supply committed to extracting more fossil fuels out of the ground we are voting for more global warming.
If we move to an energy supplier committed to using only renewable energy then we are voting for change. If companies like British Gas and Npower lost customers to the likes of Ecotricity, what message will we be giving to a government who seem intent of sticking with fossil fuels?

Do we want to invest in pension schemes that support the fossil fuel industries, or do we want to put our vote and our investments in companies that are concerned about the future of the planet rather than just their profits? And while we are at it, does our employer or our council invest in fossil fuel industries? Can we change their minds?

As we buy Christmas presents do we want to buy presents that will last only for Christmas and then get thrown, or do we want to give presents that have meaning, that will last a lifetime and won’t wreck the planet?

Every pound we spend is a vote.

 

Christ the king

We are in the last Sunday of the Kingdom season.
A favourite image of the church is of a pilgrim people and throughout the church liturgical year, which ends this week, we travel with Jesus through our readings, sermons and prayers. We started nearly a year ago with the beginning of Advent, the anticipation of the birth of Christ, we listened through the year to his teaching, witnessed his execution and celebrated his resurrection. We have celebrated the gift of the Holy Spirit and the whole of Creation. We explored the life of St Francis and he has had a profound effect on a number of our congregation. Our church year concludes with the Kingdom season. We started with All Saints day celebrating that we are all saints and remembering those who have gone before us. Today we conclude the year by celebrating Christ the King.

But King of what?

The Old Testament is clear that God is Lord or King of everything

When the early church declared Jesus as King and as Lord they were challenging the existing powers, the power of the Roman Empire, the power of the religious authorities, the power of those who tried to keep power and get rich at the expense of everyone else. They were challenging the injustices in the world and celebrating the fact that all of creation was Gods.

And that is the challenge to us today. All Creation belongs to God and we are called to live as if all creation matters.

If Jesus is King then are we bothered about Climate Change?

You bet we are!

earth

 

N.B. There are loads and loads of resources on the Internet about Climate Change, it’s current effects on us and nature and predictions as to what might happen. A good place for us to start as Christians is the Christian Aid website.If you want to know more then both Paul and Pippa would be happy to have a conversation with you – so get in touch!

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