Climate Day at St Mary’s Watford

Photo of the evening panel event – credit James Field

JRI folk are often out and about speaking at churches and events, sometimes representing JRI and sometimes other organisations whose values and aims overlap with our own. We don’t often share these in the newsletter or on this site but a recent event Martin and Margot attended gives a sense of the important work that is going on.

St Mary’s church in Watford contacted them with a clear goal in mind for their Climate Day. They wanted three things; firstly that the whole church to get behind this work and celebrate the award of Bronze and Silver Ecochurch awards, secondly to improve their relationship with their local politicians and thirdly to generate some interest in the broader Christian community.   

And so they set up this Climate Day Triple Header consisting of:

A morning service featuring a whole church climate emergency declaration powerfully called out by Adam Greenstreet (pictured opposite – photo credit Liz Allan), some amazing bunting and posters created by the Sunday School, and Bronze and Silver Ecochurch awards presented by Deputy Mayor Aga Dychton and Rachel Johnstone, the Diocesan Environment Officer. 

A lunch meeting at Pizza Express with local MP Dean Russell to discuss what they can do together to tackle the climate emergency.

An evening Encounter service with 65 Christians from 12 churches in Watford featuring a panel of guest speakers including Martin and Margot plus MP Dean Russell, local councillor Jennifer Pattinson and Friends of the Earth coordinator Anna Addinson. 

Andy Roby the Climate Group coordinator noted that his highlights of the day were:

  1. Rev Margot’s sermon in the morning; how old testament prophets like Amos and Isaiah spoke then of the same underlying causes of today’s climate crisis – greed, injustice, corruption, falsehood, lack of concern for others.
  2. Deputy Mayor Aga’s brilliant off-the-cuff speech that morning on the importance of doing all this work in partnership and for the poor and next generation in response to the posters and bunting created by the children
  3. Dean Russell’s genuine empathy for those in need, coupled with his kind offer to convene our next meeting in Westminster. 
  4. Martin’s short but compelling presentation in the Encounter Service on how the most climate impacted parts of the planet will be the poorest, in Africa and Asia, with dire consequences for their livelihoods and for migration.  
  5. Rachel’s message that the whole Church of England is taking climate change very seriously, making progress and there is real support and encouragement. 
  6. A brilliant panel of inspiring, articulate and knowledgeable speakers, each offering St Mary’s and the 11 other Churches present not just challenge and hope, but also resources and ideas and the hand of partnership. 
  7. The open invitation to work with other partners on augmenting nature in the “Green Heart of Watford” – the open space around our church.
  8. A group of 30 Christians in Watford willing to join an email group, in the first instance, and meet again in January 2024 to plan and then act together.

The Climate group are now committed to press on towards their gold Ecochurch award – as the group coordinator acknowledged: This is going to be tough but with the church behind us, and God in front of us, we will do it. 

I am sure JRI supporters will be keen to uphold St Mary’s in their prayers and hopefully we can all take inspiration for our own churches from this fantastic example of theological foundations, practical action and political engagement. With thanks to Andy Roby for his write up of the day on which this piece is based.