Climate change is changing ministry, finds Green Christian
- Clergy feel unprepared for impacts of climate change on pastoral care
- Demand is growing for leadership formation amid growing eco-anxiety
- Cloud and Fire support programme starts in January 2024
The existential challenge of climate change is having a growing impact on the vocations and beliefs of those in Christian ministry, reports Green Christian. The environmental charity has been providing support since 2021 to clergy and others grappling with the emotional, pastoral, spiritual and moral impacts of the climate crisis on individuals and communities. Many clergy feel unprepared for ministry and leadership in a context of increasing environmental anxiety and destabilisation. The charity is responding through its Cloud and Fire programme, of which a third intake begins in January 2024.
In Cloud and Fire, clergy, lay leaders and spiritual directors explore emerging dimensions of ministry in the shadow of climate risk, and discern their responses in prayer, pastoral care and mission.
Paul Bodenham, its co-ordinator, said, “The church leaders who come to us want more than tips in eco-liturgy or decarbonising their churches – essential though those are. They see temperatures going off the charts and a widespread sense of helplessness which is often suppressed, particularly among younger people.
“They come to Cloud and Fire with lots of questions. How do I preach honestly about the risks we face without triggering an episode of mental illness? What kind of pastoral support do I need to offer the sixth formers in our local school? How do I support the family who have been flooded three times in five years? We’re in uncharted territory, for which ministers are finding their training hasn’t prepared them We’ve stepped into the gap with Cloud and Fire, but there is a real need for denominations to future-proof the training they provide.”
In addition to Cloud and Fire, Green Christian also offers Deep Waters, which enables church groups to explore their feelings about climate change and engage constructively with them. A Lent course is also about to be published for 2024.
For more information on Cloud and Fire and other activities in Green Christian’s Borrowed Time programme visit www.borrowedtime.earth. Registration for the Cloud and Fire group starting on 9 January 2024 is now open at bit.ly/cloudandfire2024.