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ARC is joining Earth Hour on March 27th

March 25, 2010:

Clifton Cathedral held a mass before Earthday 2009 by candlelight. See below for a brief account of that mass, with ideas for readings.

ARC is participating in Earth Hour this year, for the third time.

We invite our friends and partners to join us in this, by turning off all lighting and electric appliances in your homes for an hour or more during the weekend of March 27th and 28th - and indeed on any other days in the year that you can safely do so.

The official time for "Earth Hour" is 20.30 (8:30 PM) local time on March 27th wherever you are in the world

Faith communities can participate by holding services by candlelight over that weekend (or indeed over the whole of that week), turning off for example steeple lights and other outdoor decorative lighting on places of worship, and taking the opportunity both to remember and remind of the importance of valuing the gift of energy.


Quote from Clifton Cathedral Parishioner: "I wanted to say thank you for your inspiration and encouragement to keep the earth hour on Saturday night. I asked my two boys to take it seriously with me and we had the most wonderful hour: no lights, no screens, no music, just reading by candlelight. The peace was tangible and it was very special. We clocked the electric meter and used 2 units in the earth hour and 28 in the next hour with lights and screens back on. Even the boys were impressed at the difference!"
Celebrations in the UK

At our office we will turn off all machines and at home many of our colleagues will also be taking a time to reflect.

Many other churches and cathedrals have signed up, including Manchester Cathedral, Clifton Cathedral in Bristol, which will be holding a Tuesday mass by candlelight on the 24th.

On Saturday 28 March, Canterbury Cathedral will welcome around 500 Kent residents to promote Earth Hour. The Cathedral will also switch off its exterior lighting at 2030 hours (local time) on Saturday. Photographs of Canterbury Cathedral celebrating Earth Hour will be available on WWF-UK's website after the event. The Cathedral's efforts to promote Earth Hour via visitor posters and website has contributed to a global outreach. A spokeswoman for WWF-UK, Cherry Duggan (Head of Schools and Community Relations) commented that WWF-UK was also very grateful to the support offered by the Church of England's Public Relations Office. The Press Office have distributed a short Earth Hour notice to all their environment/world development advisers, and to the communications officers in every diocese encouraging them to join in the initiative. It is hoped the Church of England's Shrinking the Footprint website, will also feature Earth Hour.

International Participation

Outside the UK, the Church of Sweden's parishioners will be ringing bells throughout the country to mark the beginning of the hour. Interfaith Power and Light in the US is urging all its members and friends to join in across the country.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has also signalled his commitment to support Earth Hour. In an open letter on behalf of WWF-International, the Archbishop writes:

Manchester Cathedral is switching off its lights. Photo from flickr
"This coming Saturday, hundreds of millions of people around the world will join together in what's being described as a vote for the planet. From New York to Beijing, from Cape Town to Paris, citizens will turn their lights off for sixty minutes to demand action on climate change. Earth Hour is a unique opportunity for us all to send a message to the world's leaders that 2009 is the year for a global deal to tackle global warming.

We are used to seeing climate change discussed in both environmental and economic terms. The impacts on the planet are all too obvious – melting polar ice caps, drought and rising sea levels have become the depressing staple of our daily news for several years. More recently, given the global recession, talk has turned to the economics of climate change, the costs of keeping it manageable and the costs if we don't. The trillions of dollars in stimulus packages now being put in place across the world are increasingly seen as a chance to invest in sustainable green technologies and production which will not only help build a low-carbon future but which will kick-start growth and safeguard jobs.

But there is another dimension to the climate change debate which does not tend to get as much attention as the environmental and economic impacts – and that is the moral imperative which we all share to prevent a massive humanitarian crisis. Global warming is not just an ecological and financial dilemma – it is an ethical one which opens up unsettling questions concerning justice, fairness, responsibilities and obligations."


- hold a service by candlelight on the weekend of March 28th-29th or in the week running up to it. Recommend that those who can walk to the service do so. See below for an account of how Clifton Cathedral ran such an event - simply and inspirationally.

- give out candles to those attending your place of worship, incorporating a formal blessing for their use in their homes this weekend

- incorporate a teaching about your faith's tradition wisdom about being careful and not wasting resources, into any services or gathering.

- include a special prayer about the environment in both your worship and in any leaflets or newsletters you produce this month. - Follow the Church of Sweden's example and ring bells, if you can, or broadcast prayers, to mark the beginning of Earth Hour at 8.30 local time on the 28th

- make sure all non-essential lighting is switched off, that (although it is glorious at other times) that for that night any decorative lighting around your place of worship is symbolically turned off... and that all electric appliances in the offices are switched off and not left on standby. - enjoy the candlelight

- understand that there is a political message in this campaign, but also that, perhaps even more powerfully, there is a message to ourselves that we should be more careful, waste less, and enjoy simplicity

An example from Clifton Cathedral

By Mary Colwell, ARC's Catholic consultant and Clifton Parishioner.

"Most of us have forgotten what it is like to spend much time in candle light.  It is very serene and calming and the light has a particular quality that rests the eyes.  On Tuesday 24th March 50 parishioners from Clifton Cathedral spent about an hour in this peaceful atmosphere listening to music, hearing readings and reflections on the earth and taking part in silence.  The Earth Hour vigil was organised in response to WWF's Earth hour call to action on Saturday 28th March, between 8.30 and 9.30 pm.  

The Cathedral was booked on Saturday evening and so we decided to hold our own low energy service to remind people to take part on Saturday and to spend time together thinking about how many resources we use and how so many people in the world have so little.

Readings began with the first paragraph of "A Tale of Two Cities".  The tense has been changed to the present, but the sense of what Dickens was trying to convey remains as strong today as ever. We stand at a junction and can decide which way to go, both paths are open to us, but we have to choose.  As the earth's resources are put under more strain, and the climate changes faster and with more sever consequences we can't delay our decision any longer:

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times, it is the age of wisdom, it is the age of foolishness, it is the epoch of belief, it is the epoch of incredulity, it is the season of Light, it is the season of Darkness, it is the spring of hope, it is the winter of despair, we have everything before us, we have nothing before us, we are all going direct to Heaven, we are all going direct the other way."  Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

We then heard from the Creation story in Genesis as well as an alternative destruction story which highlights how quickly we are able to destroy what has taken so long to form.  

But the evening wasn't depressing, it was uplifting and thoughtful and the main comments from those who took part were - "I shall never forget this evening it was beautiful", "thank you for the chance to think about this in a church", "A wonderful idea, thank you". Afterwards the candlelight theme continued with a glass of wine or juice.  It was a beautiful, friendly and memorable evening.

Why get involved? - A Catholic perspective from Mary Colwell

Earth Hour is a call not only to the stereotypical ‘greenies’. It is a call to all of us Catholics who belong not just to a diocese - the local Church - but to a huge global family of believers. Catholicism is a world-wide faith that has influence in almost every part of the earth. We have to act as a family and stand in solidarity again all forms of injustice and wrong-doing whether that injustice is being done to the earth, to individuals or to whole communities. Earth Hour is a call to all people of faith to show in a simple but effective way what it means to care and put that care into action.

“Earth Hour is a worldwide event asking people to turn their lights off to highlight how much energy we use and how we have to think about climate change and our use of resources.

More information about Earth Hour

Last year some 50 million people turned out their lights. This year WWF is hoping that a billion people will somehow be connected with Earth Hour, with a target of reaching people in more than 930 cities and towns in 80 countries.

According to the Earth Hour team: "Paris, the ‘City of Lights’ will make a powerful statement by turning off its famous lights, including the Eiffel Tower, for Earth Hour. In the birthplace of democracy, thousands of Athenians will gather to watch the lights go out at the Acropolis in acknowledgement of their vote for action on climate change. Metropolises across the Americas including New York, Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Mexico City and Las Vegas will see their united voice accompanied by unfamiliar lighting – stars."

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December 2 2008:
Uppsala Manifesto promises faith action on climate issues
A manifesto signed at an interfaith climate summit in Uppsala Sweden last week calls on political leaders to reach agreement during the preparations of the new global Climate Protocol 2009 - to create a strategy that is sufficiently responsible and ambitious.
March 25, 2010:
ARC is joining Earth Hour on March 27th
"Earth Hour" this year is 20.30 local time on March 27th. Many faith communities are participating. Some by holding services by candlelight, taking the opportunity both to remember and remind of the importance of valuing the gift of energy.