Taking Prophetic Action for the Earth
In conjunction with an event on Saturday, April 23, 2022, entitled “The Faith of Prophets: Lessons for the Climate Crisis,” faith communities are urged to use that weekend to prepare a community climate collage that will be delivered in person to the local office of their Congressional Representative or Senator during the week that follows. Here are suggested steps for making that happen:
1. Create a Community Climate Collage: On a large canvas or paper banner, write with big, bold black lettering a succinct message that addresses the climate crisis from a place of faith and morality. It could be as simple as “Climate Is the Moral Issue of Our Time” or “People of Faith for Climate Action.” Around this message, invite the children and adults of your faith community to use crayons or markers to draw their response to one of the following prompts:
(a) As a person of faith, I am taking climate action because….
(b) I am motivated to climate action out of a love for…
2. Deliver the Community Climate Collage: Organize a news conference outside the local district office of a Congressional Representative or Senator to deliver a call for climate action as people of faith. Use the community climate collage as a visual object that represents your message and provides a compelling image for the media. With as many members as possible, hold the news conference on a weekday outside the building where the office is located. It does not matter to what party your elected officials belong, what climate positions they have been taken in the past, or whether you even think they will listen. Your goal is to not only give your elected official a message but to also give the general public a message. We know from history that public action changes public opinion and that public opinion can change everything from how people vote to what policies elected officials enact in the short-term or long-term. A lot of planning and preparation is involved in organizing news conference. Fortunately, organizations like MoveOn offer step-by-step guidance on how to organize one.
3. Tie Your Action to a Call for Specific Legislation: It is a powerful message to simply have people of faith speaking up publicly for climate action from members of Congress. The message becomes all the more powerful when it is tied to specific legislation, and now presents an opportune moment. In 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a historic bill with more than $550 billion in investment for clean energy, transportation, clean air and water, and climate resilience. The legislation remains stalled in the Senate, and now is when the prophetic voice of the Christian faith is most before it is too late. Call upon your Senators retain and fully fund the climate provisions of the House bill that shift us away from fossil fuels as rapidly as possible.
4. Recruit Media Attention: Before the press conference, send your local news outlets a media advisory to attract their attendance. Follow-up your media advisory with phone calls to their offices to ask if they received the advisory and to seek their attendance. For media outlets, such as small local newspapers, if a reporter did not attend, send a press release after the event. Sometimes a newspaper will run a story based on your summary of the event. The climate organization 350.org has provided lots of good tips for how to do media advisories, press releases, and phone calls to media.
5. Spread Your Own News: Post your press release as a story on your faith community’s website. Share the story via social media. You can also live-stream or videotape the press conference, so that it can be shared on social media. Be sure to get a group photo of everyone involved in your press conference before you leave. This can then be used for press releases, websites, and social media.
6. Let Us Know How It Went: We want to celebrate your successes and learn any lessons gained in the process of taking action. Email Brooks Berndt, the UCC’s Minister of Environmental Justice, to share your press release, photos, and any reflections on your undertaking.