by Vickey Allen
I’ve never felt particularly called to focus my activism on climate change. I’ve tried to be mindful of my use of resources, but the movement itself, while obviously necessary, isn’t where I’ve put my energy. Truth be told, I hadn’t really been following the climate crisis movement at all when I signed up for the UCC Creation Justice Webinar about the climate strike, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect during that hour.
As I listened to the panelists in the webinar explain how we as adults can support this movement, I was humbled by the youth fighting against the climate crisis. I heard their prophetic voices calling out the sins of people too greedy, too indifferent, or too tired to heed the death cries of our planet. I felt the power of their demand for repentance, a forgiveness to be earned only by changing our relationship to the Earth and to each other. They have made it clear: No longer can we put off this work. If we do not act now, there will be no future in which to act later. Up until that moment, I had wanted to go to a strike on September 20, but I wasn’t sure if it would work out. After the webinar, I committed to going to a demonstration for the Climate Strike.
I work at a UCC church, and we followed the lead of the Conference and closed the office on Friday. At first, I planned on attending the interfaith prayer service and rally in Hartford. As I planned the logistics of getting to the rally, I considered taking the bus from my home in Middletown to the Capitol. The difference in travel time shocked me. Driving would take me 22 minutes; the bus would take almost two hours.
I decided to go to the Middletown event on the Wesleyan campus for multiple reasons, but the act of looking up the bus schedule from Middletown to Hartford forced me to reflect on what it means to live a more sustainable life. It will require major changes, some extremely challenging, others simply inconvenient. However, my faith will not allow me to sit in comfort, ignoring the crisis around us. Choosing convenience means callously disregarding Jesus’ command to serve one another.
In order to attend the United Nations Climate Action Summit this week, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg took two weeks to sail across the Atlantic Ocean on an emissions-free yacht. She chose that extremely inconvenient route so she could avoid taking a commercial jet, one of the worst producers of greenhouse gases. While she made a point to say that she wouldn’t recommend doing that for everyone, Greta Thunberg’s choice resonated with me. I can easily think of many ways that I can reduce my carbon footprint. I just need to be willing to be inconvenienced.
The saying “The gospel should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” resonates deep in my soul. Picking up the cross and following Jesus can be hard work, but we cannot shy away from it. We are called to bring the love and justice of God’s kin-dom to the world, and only with all of us doing our part will we be able to achieve that goal. Let us all figure out ways that we can be inconvenienced—not just for the planet, but for each other.
Vickey Allen (she/her/hers) is a member of First Church of Middletown, CT, UCC, the office administrator at Plantsville Congregational Church, and a student at Hartford Seminary earning her MA in Religious Studies. She loves congregational polity, and the Holy Spirit is her favorite of the one-in-three persons that make up the Trinity.
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