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Sharon Harbottle (pictured furthest to the right) is a lay preacher at St Andrew's Methodist Church, Bolton and she has been an active Christian Aid supporter for many years. Experience has taught Sharon the great value of taking your church on a gradual journey of learning and discovery.

Over a year ago, St Andrew’s held a screening of Thank-you for the Rain, a hard hitting and poignant film that tells the story of the climate crisis in Kenya. Inspired by the film the church decided to have a collection for the Christian Aid East Africa Hunger Appeal and they began to grapple with the injustice of the climate crisis.

From left to right are Julie Ramsden , John Harbottle and Sharon Harbottle (members of St Andrew's Methodist church Bolton) posing with our Bolton fairtrade town mugs for life.

The building blocks were now laid ready for Sharon to lead a Talking Climate Justice service with her church, last September. She found the script and slides really useful for starting conversation and the congregation chatted in pairs and then fed back. These were not all easy conversations to have and when contemplating history and the UK's role in industrialisation and colonisation, one church member remarked: 

I bristled. I considered walking out, but I hung in there and stuck with it to the end.

An illustration of chimneys from Britain's industrial past

This church in Bolton is conscious of its’ industrial heritage and like Bristol’s involvement with the slave trade, they acknowledge that the full story must be told. Sharon said,

I was able to use Christian Aid's Talking Climate Justice resources to help our church to explore the past and consider the context of our modern-day campaign on Loss and Damage.

This has been a painful journey at times, but the church is feeling empowered and inspired by the results. Like ripples on a pond, many things are changing as a response and church members are keen to adopt a greener and more sustainable lifestyle too, such as cutting down on fast fashion and instead repurposing their clothing. The church has also tried to engage the local MP, with limited success, but if they can show that more people are getting on board with the issues, hopefully the MP will start to take notice!

Now the Lent Resources from Christian Aid are providing yet another complimentary stepping stone in the journey and through the resources you can continue to explore the relationship between your faith, climate Justice and poverty.  

Sharon loves the way Christian Aid combines these opportunities to Give, Act and Pray under one banner and found the Talking Climate Justice material a great way to encourage the church to look outwards and turn to their wider, global community. She would recommend that you give it a go in your church!

Give it a go

You can download everything you need here, to run your own Talking Climate Justice service