by Nancy Leckerling, Co-Chair of the Environmental Ministry Team of First Congregational Church of Guilford, CT
The First Congregational Church of Guilford, CT – the first UCC Creation Justice Church in Connecticut – has taken on a new action as part of their commitment to heal, tend and restore God’s Creation. Having gathered on the 11th of May to “Sound the Alarm for Climate Action,” they plan to continue ringing their church bell on the 11th of every month to raise awareness about the climate emergency and encourage everyone to become an environmental voter. Hear more about their witness and consider joining them in ringing your bell on the 11th of the month!
The Environmental Ministries Team of First Congregational Church in Guilford plans to ring our church bells on the 11th day of every month to sound the alarm about the 11th hour of climate change’s threat.
We began on May 11 with a short service which included the land acknowledgment of Native people on whose historic land our church stands, an opening prayer, a solo of “For the Beauty of the Earth”, a reading of the poem “Trusting the Spiral” from Joanna Macy’s and Chris Johnstone’s book Active Hope.
We also provided information about the Environmental Voter Project and the Creation Care Voter Pledge. We set up a table beside our UCC Creation Justice Church banner near the front steps of the church, and on the table we had copies of the Creation Care Voter Pledge that people could sign as well as information about the importance of voting in all sorts of elections for candidates who are advocates for Creation care and justice.
Then we rang the bells 11 times at 11:11 AM and closed by reading in unison “A Hopi Elder Speaks”. Some people brought their own bells to ring and to attract passers-by to our table. We encouraged them to sign the Creation Care Voter Pledge and to find out if candidates for public office at all levels are Creation Care supporters before they vote.
It is our hope that other houses of worship around our Guilford Green will join us in the coming months to ring their bells on the 11th day of July at 11:11AM, and each month thereafter, because we believe all religious people need to bring their faith to the public square to raise awareness about climate change and the disproportionate effects it has on low-income people and people of color, who do the least to cause the climate change in our state, our country and around the world.
For those of us on our Environmental Ministries Team and others, who constantly write letters and make calls to our state and U.S. Legislators and bring our faith to the public square, we view environmental advocacy as a daily spiritual discipline alongside prayer.
Eric Fine of the Yale Program on Climate Communications reminds us that 80% of people in the U.S. say climate change is happening. If we don’t talk about the facts of climate change with our friends and with our Legislators, to counteract the misinformation and misperceptions “out there” about climate change, we reinforce what Mr. Fine calls the “climate spiral of silence”. As Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, climate scientist, Texas Tech University Professor and Evangelical Christian author says, “The single most important thing that anyone can do to bring people together to address climate change is to talk about it.”
So, ring those bells!
Nancy Leckerling is a member of the SNEUCC Environmental Ministry Team of the First Congregational Church of Guilford (CT)