The Big Church Switch: Another window of opportunity by Rev Dr John Weaver

The Big Church Switch was launched on Ash Wednesday this year. The Big Church Switch calls on churches and individual Christians of all denominations to switch their energy supply (electricity) from fossil fuels to renewable energy, as part of their commitment to care for our neighbours and for the earth – our common home.

By using clean, renewable energy we can help restore the earth and bring balance to God’s creation. Clean energy sources offer a reliable energy supply and secure long-term jobs, fuelling prosperity for our neighbours near and far.

Since Ash Wednesday 2016 over 600 churches, including five cathedrals, have registered with the Big Switch. In addition the 845 Salvation Army premises have switched to a green tariff, the Quakers are aiming for 200 Meeting Houses to have made the switch, and CAFOD is working to build on the 50% of Roman Catholic Dioceses who use green energy already. The URC youth federation is intending to encourage all its churches over the next few months.

Now we have another opportunity to express interest between 4th and 15th July, when individuals and churches can sign up their interest in making a change in their energy supplier to a totally renewable source.

Switching is easy – I signed up and switched my supplier in March. It is only a matter of following an online form. Anyone who knows me and my competence with a computer will say: ‘If John can manage it anyone can!’
I am doing my bit to save the planet and I am also saving money.

Christian Aid and Tearfund have been working closely with the church procurement service 2BUY2 in the careful selection of suppliers. This will ensure that the offers from renewable energy suppliers meet stringent criteria, including a tariff that is of 100% renewable energy, from companies who source at least 80% of their electricity from green energy.

The Big Church Switch is already proving to be the cheapest way to buy green electricity in the UK.

By acting together as the church community we will send a clear and powerful message to governments and businesses that Christians are prepared to lead the way and that switching to renewables is crucial if we are to live in and enjoy God’s world together.

Collectively as the church we have huge buying power and can secure some market-beating renewable tariffs. Whether you want to switch your home or inspire your church to switch, the Big Church Switch website will guide you through the process so that you and/or your church can switch in a simple and affordable way to a tariff that restores, rather than damages, creation.

Christian Aid and Tearfund are aiming for 2000 church registrations by 1st September 2016.
They will send out the certificates in September for churches who have switched, and are encouraging churches to receive their award publicly and use press releases to draw attention to their decision. They will make a template press release available.

Ben Niblett, Senior campaigner at Tearfund says: ‘The UK church has a vital role in overcoming poverty and inequality in a way which doesn’t cost the earth and lasts for generations to come. Switching is a great way for Christians to love our neighbours and show the government we want more action on climate change, like investment in clean, renewable energy.’

Ruth Valerio of A Rocha writes: ‘Please do this! Changing to a green energy supplier might seem a big step for a church, but it is a hugely significant action. It is a practical way to care for God’s earth and it sends a big political signal too. Do what you need to do, talk to whoever you need to talk to, and make the switch.’

The Big Church switch will hopefully become part of the Eco Church award scheme.

I wholeheartedly agree with Ruth and I encourage all Baptist churches and individuals to register and/or make this switch in July. We can then join together in Pope Francis’ call to a day of prayer for creation on September 1st. Following this day of prayer comes Creation Time, 1st September to 4th October, and worship and study material is being produced for use by the churches, which will be found on the CTBI and Church of Scotland websites.

Let this be part of our commitment to following Christ in the coming months.
‘For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed’ (Romans 8:19). Creation longs for us to live in a Christ-centred way.

John Weaver

John Weaver was born and brought up in Cardiff. After taking degrees in Geology at Swansea, he taught at the University of Derby. John trained for Baptist ministry in Oxford and was then pastor of Highfield Baptist Church from 1981-1991. From 1992-2001 he taught theology at Regent’s Park College, Oxford, and from 2001-2012 served as Principal of South Wales Baptist College. He is a former President of the Baptist Union, and is the Chair of JRI. His main areas of research are: relating faith to life and work; theological reflection; adult education; and the dialogue between science and faith.