December 07, 2009 10:00 ET

United Church Moderator to Attend Climate Change Talks in Copenhagen

Attention: Assignment Editor, Environment Editor, News Editor, World News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO, NEWS RELEASE--(Marketwire - Dec. 7, 2009) -

"Climate change represents the greatest moral challenge of our time. How we respond is a test of our courage," says The United Church of Canada's Moderator, Mardi Tindal.

Tindal travels to Copenhagen this week as part an international delegation of religious leaders attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference, making a spiritual journey they hope will help to save the planet.

She says she believes that we have reached a pivotal moment in human history, and therefore faith as well as science must inform the outcome of the UN climate change talks.

"The United Nations Climate Change Conference is a place where faith and science must intersect," wrote Tindal in a recent open letter to Canadians.

"Science tells us what is and, given certain parameters, what will come to be. Spiritual values teach us what ought to be. Only the two, working together, can see us safely through this perilous time," said the letter.

"Finding a way forward will require that we attend to the best science available, so we are firmly grounded in reality. But it also demands that we recognize the spiritual, moral, and ethical values that have guided humans for centuries so we can work toward a vision of wholeness," explains Tindal.

Tindal notes that the timing of her trip to Copenhagen coincides with the Christian liturgical season of Advent.

"Advent is a time of waiting-a time of anticipation and of hope," says Tindal. "As I prepare for this journey, I am holding our political leaders in my prayers-hoping and waiting to see signs of courage that will tell me they are prepared to take bold action in Copenhagen."

Tindal is not alone in her prayers for a positive outcome in Copenhagen. Eleven former United Church Moderators have committed themselves to daily prayer and other acts of solidarity in support of those involved in the climate change talks. One example is the Very Rev. Bill Phipps, who, yesterday, began a week-long fast in his hometown of Calgary.

He describes his fast as an offering of support, encouragement, and solidarity, not a protest.

"Giving up food is my offering and prayer, an embodiment of the struggle to save our fragile world," says Phipps.

On Sunday, December 13, 2009, churches around the world, including United Church congregations here in Canada, will ring their church bells 350 times at 3:00 p.m. local time. Ringing the bells-or making noise in some other way, such as drumming or pot banging-350 times refers to the 350 parts per million (ppm) that climate experts say needs to be the upper limit for carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in our atmosphere if we are to avoid catastrophic climate disruptions.

Tindal says scientists, theologians, and Aboriginal and spiritual leaders from many traditions tell us that "our hands are not touching the earth lightly enough for the sake of life itself."

"We know that all is not well in creation," says Tindal. "Instead of nourishing the life of the world, we are making our earth and ourselves sick."

This means, she adds, that "We need to work out a grand bargain that will allow life to survive in a hopeful and humane fashion. We need to be prepared to make decisions, sacrifices, and gestures of good will toward one another and the planet."

Tindal says that, despite the fear and foreboding that dominates so much of the debate over climate change, "We are people of faith who believe that hope can triumph over despair and that by working together we can and will arrive at solutions that will lead us to a saner path of sustainability."
/For further information: Mary-Frances Denis
Program Coordinator, Media and Public Relations
The United Church of Canada
Office:416-231-7680 ext. 2016
Cell: 416-400-7273

Contact Information

  • Mary-Frances Denis, Program Coordinator, Media and Public Relations, The United Church of Canada
    Primary Phone: 416-231-7680 ext. 2016
    Secondary Phone: 416-400-7273
    Toll-Free: 800-268-3781