We mostly associate church bells with the call to worship, weddings and very special national celebrations such as the millennium or the ending of the Second World War. But they also have another historic function: to ring out warnings. Normally those warnings have been local: to warn of fire, floods or shipwrecks. But they were very much on standby to warn of possible invasions by Hitler, Napoleon or the Spanish Armada: times of real national crisis.
Here at St Milburga's, we believe that today is a time of real national crisis and so on Saturday 30th October we will be ringing our bells to warn the people of Stoke Saint Milborough of the threat
The IPCC report has stated unequivocally that the extreme weather events which have swept the globe are the consequence of man-made climate change. The UN Secretary General has signalled ‘Code Red for Humanity’, which he would not do lightly. Our planet has given us warning after warning, through floods, wildfires, droughts, heat domes and hurricanes, that we have profoundly affected the balance of the planet and are making it increasingly hostile to mankind.
There can no longer be any doubt that humanity is now in mortal danger… and on a global scale. Here in South Shropshire, extreme weather events have affected large areas in recent years, most notably flooding of the river Teme. As Christians we are deeply concerned with the millions around the world who are also being profoundly affected: the poor who have contributed the least to the problem.
The nations of the Global South are already suffering the severest effects of drought, crop failures, hurricanes and cyclones. But the poor in this country will also be the first to suffer from rising food prices, heat exhaustion or the inability to insure their homes and businesses against floods.
On Monday, in Glasgow, the UK is hosting the 26th International Conference to address the Climate Crisis. So far those conferences have failed to slow the rate of greenhouse gas emissions, allowing us to continue the path of self-destruction.
The bells of St Milburga will be ringing out our warning on at 6pm Saturday 30th September to remind the delegates of the urgency of the dangers we now face. We need our politicians to take the courageous and, if necessary, selfless actions that times of extreme emergency require.
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