October 2021 #5 – Faith institutions divest from fossil fuels

News in brief.

Faith institutions unite to divest from fossil fuels. Seventy-two faith institutions, including churches and organisations in the UK, Italy, Ukraine, and Ireland have announced their divestment from fossil fuels. It’s the largest-ever joint divestment announcement by religious organisations, and follows calls by faith leaders to see urgent action in response to the climate crisis. 

Baptist churches and migration – report published.  Over the summer, the European Baptist Federation surveyed its churches to understand better the work of Baptists in relation to refugees across the Continent. The survey found that 40% of Baptist churches (24 of the 59 European Baptist Federation members churches) continue to support migrants through a variety of projects. A report based on the survey noted that “Hundreds of churches are serving in areas of humanitarian aid, advocacy and asylum support, and integration and discipleship.” 

Church built by congregation in England opens. When the Baptist congregation of the Cambridgeshire village of Isleham outgrew their chapel ten years ago, they formed  a building company to construct a new one on land they were gifted. Local building and crane companies donated time and materials, and the congregation was ultimately able to cover the £4 million cost of the new church. Made of green oak, the Ark Church is believed to be the biggest structure in Europe made in modern times from that material. The church opened officially last week

Pope to visit Greece and Cyprus. Pope Francis will visit Greece and Cyprus 3-5 December this year. The visit will focus on the plight of refugees, particularly during the difficult months of winter.

Spotlight on Glasgow.

St Andrews Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral (196 Clyde St). Built in 1816 on the banks of the Clyde to serve the city’s growing Catholic community, the cathedral formed an important focus for the Irish Catholics who arrived in Glasgow in the early nineteenth century, fleeing the Potato Famine and seeking opportunities in rapidly industrialising Glasgow. Anti-Catholic feeling in the city resulted in the construction work being repeatedly vandalised, but in a gesture of ecumenical fellowship, other Christian congregations donated money to help ensure the completion of the work. 

Glasgow (Church of Scotland) Cathedral (Caste Street). Consecrated in 1197, this impressive medieval cathedral is one of the features of the Glasgow cityscape. St Mungo, the sixth-century saint, and patron saint of Glasgow is buried in the cathedral; his shrine was an important site of pilgrimage during the medieval period. The first lectures of the University of Glasgow were held in the cathedral’s chapter house in the fifteenth century.  The cathedral is known for its exceptional modern stained glass, including the Millenium Window by John K. Clark, unveiled in 1999. The stained glass contains text from the Parable of the Sower. 

Greek Orthodox Church of St Luke (27 Dundonald Rd). This Gothic revival church was built in the 1870s for the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland. When the Presbyterian congregation was amalgamated, the building was converted to a Greek Orthodox Church in the 1960s, largely through the support of Reo Stakis, a Cypriot entrepreneur. The Greek School of Glasgow is housed at the cathedral.

Saint of the week: Martin of Porres

In the week in which the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP26) begins, it seems right that our saint this week is from the Global South and is associated both with the experience of inequality, and with respect for the natural world. Born in Lima, Martin de Porres was the mixed-race son of a freed slave and grew up in poverty. After an apprenticeship with a barber, he began working at a Dominican monastery as a servant. He quickly gained a reputation for healing people, and ultimately established an orphanage and children’s hospital. Whilst mixed-race people were barred from religious orders at this time, his exemplary service forced the church authorities to rethink this, and he was admitted to the Dominicans. He was a lifelong vegetarian, refusing to kill even pests, and he is sometimes portrayed with a dog, a cat and a mouse eating peacefully from the same dish. The music video of Madonna’s Like a Prayer included a portrayal of Martin de Porres. In the music video, a statue of the saint is seen crying in response to an act of racial injustice.

Looking ahead.

Today 29 October at 17.15 CET, the Anglican diocese in Europe will be holding an online event to mark the start of COP26 and to “raise the profile of climate issues as fundamental to our Creation Care as disciples, and to our Anglican commitment to the Fifth Mark of Mission.” More information about the event can be found here

Christian Climate Action Belgium holds a short reflective online prayer session on the 1st of each month, to pray for climate justice and this year’s all-important COP26. The next is on 1 November at 20.00 CET

During COP26, Glasgow Cathedral will be hosting several events and services. Details can be found here.

Picture credits. Photo of Glasgow by Craig McKay | graphic design by European Churches Chronicle.

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