John D Anderson from Baildon Methodist Church, Bradford, considers how we should use our money at a time of climate emergency.
Christians care a great deal about what happens to their money. Jesus spoke about what practising Christians should do with it. He says in Matthew 19:23 that “it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven”; the disciples “were greatly astounded and said, ‘Then who can be saved?’” Jesus had rich friends like Zacchaeus and Joseph of Arimathea. People can possess money; their salvation depends on what they do with it.
In this time of the climate emergency, as declared by Parliament and our churches, a major call on our money should be to reduce the global heating which is destroying the biodiversity of our God-created planet. It is also undermining the fabric of human society as, for example, sea levels inexorably rise more than 2 mm a year. Many individuals and groups are acting already. The Methodist Church here in Baildon, Bradford uses only renewable electricity and very little gas. We have recently built an energy-positive building called The Fold. The first community building to be built to Passivhaus standards in West Yorkshire, it will serve the church, local scouts, a pre-school and others. It represents a million pound exercise in putting our money where our mouth is as a church – investing in the community, and in the low carbon world we want to see.
It is time not to just to spend on our own buildings, but to lobby and act to move the billions being spent on looking for more oil and gas to more beneficial investments. The campaign to persuade organisations including churches to divest from fossil fuel companies is becoming very successful. But what about the banks in which our own personal and our church money is kept? Barclays, for example invests more in fossil fuels than any other bank in Europe. HSBC invests more in fossil fuels than most other banks world-wide.
At Baildon Methodist Church Council on 20 August I initiated a debate on where we as committed Christians and as an Eco-congregational church should keep our money. If anyone wishes to join us on this journey, they can check their own and their church’s bank out by going to SwitchIt.Money. Maybe we need to move our money to a better bank? We should act individually and corporately as the age of incineration draws to a close and is replaced by the era of creation. So help us God.