10 Ways Clergy Can Confront Climate Change

Once clergy members sign the Clergy Climate Letter and encourage colleagues in their own tradition and in interfaith councils to do the same, the work of confronting climate change has just begun. Here are a few suggestions for clergy looking for the next step to take.

  1. Educate yourself on the scientific basics of climate change. Understanding the problem is the first step.

  2. Get to know and publicize your tradition’s theology on the environment. See what statements (if any) have been released on climate change/environment. You and the members of your congregation may be surprised at how strong a stance your tradition has already taken. Encourage your leadership to take up the issue if your tradition hasn’t issued a statement.

  3. Preach sermons that address climate change, stewardship of the earth, and environmental justice:

  4. Bring scientists into the pulpit and religious education events. Scientists and clergy working together shows that science and faith belong together. People may feel comfortable asking a scientist questions in church that they couldn’t ask elsewhere; the scientist can field questions that you may not be able to answer and can defer the questions lying outside of science to you. Solutions to climate change will be shaped as both science and morality inform decisions. We should model that dialogue wherever we can.

  5. Reduce your congregations’ carbon footprint, and encourage your members to reduce theirs:

  6. Know the work your members do. Whether they are farmers, teachers, bank workers, nurses, store clerks, city managers, your members will be your allies in this effort to reduce climate change. They will bring different concerns about climate change and be able to share a different resources in as you take action on climate change.

  7. Understand how climate change affects members of your congregation and your community. Discuss how your mission projects &emdash; such as feeding the hungry, supporting medical clinics, and upholding the dignity of human life &emdash; are related to the larger issue of climate change, and how taking action on climate change will continue to advance those mission efforts. Look for ways to expand your work to shield those in your community most vulnerable to climate change, and to develop solutions available to all people.

  8. Plant seeds (literally!). Gardens connect us to the earth, the work of growing and greening is spiritual work, and makes the stewardship of our planet tangible and immediate. Research shows that exposure to plants makes people more accepting of climate science, and through efforts like Project Budburst, gardeners can even help gather the evidence of how climate change is affecting nature in their own garden.

  9. Support your local science teachers’ efforts to teach climate science. Make sure state and local education policy encourages climate change education in curriculum and textbooks. Work with parents and groups like NCSE to ensure that your teachers and schools have the resources they need to prepare and educate the next generation.

  10. Organize and act, especially locally When clergy speak, the public listens, including leaders of government and industry. Clergy have been at the forefront of climate action, from protests against polluters to marches calling for climate policy all over the world. Clergy voices can focus the discussion on the moral and social consequences of climate change, and emphasize the positive values of collaboration toward solutions that heal the earth.

    • 350.org organizes local rallies and marches and events all around the world
    • Sierra Club has been leading the charge to close the most-polluting power plants
    • Interfaith Power and Light is a leading force for interfaith organizing against climate change

Don't hesitate to contact us with additional suggestions or resources we should link to.