Well St. Leo’s, Dumbreck, got an unexpected 5 minutes of fame last weekend, when it hosted the ecumenical service prior to the start of the Climate Change march, the Wave, from Bellahouston Park. We were very happy to provide a venue for the service but didn’t realise it would result in the parish appearing on TV news and on the web – the copy of Netta Ewing’s tapestry really showed up well! Before the service started, we offered tea and coffee and nibbles ( and comfort stops) in the church hall for anyone who wished, and this was very welcome for many who travelled some distance to join the march.
The service itself was led by Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Rt. Rev. Bill Hewitt (Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland) and Most Rev. David Chillingworth (Primus of the Scottish Episcopalian Church), and the church was filled with people, from the “silver” campaigners to babies in prams. The congregation joined in singing two very appropriate hymns “Where are the voices for the earth” and “Sent by the Lord am I”, accompanied by Rev. Martin Scott on the organ.
In leading the prayers, Rev. Hewitt asked that the Lord forgive us for complaining about what we don’t have, rather than be grateful and thanking him for what we have. This was followed by a scripture reading from Micah (6:1-8) ended with the phrase so familiar to many of St. Leo’s parishioners “this is what the Lord asks of you, to do justice, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God”.
A Powerpoint presentation showing evocative photographs of both the beauty of the earth and the current climate problems led into the homily by the Rev. Kathy Galloway. Referring to the Micah reading, she challenged us to recognise Micah as the voice of the poor standing in judgment on the community of faith, still so relevant today. We are using up the earth’s resources at the expense of the poor and the future – in the last 20 years alone we have used one-third of the world’s non-renewable resources. Her final challenging question was why do we not take climate change seriously – is it because it is not affecting us seriously and directly enough yet? Is it not yet visible enough because people aren’t dying from hunger or flooding or hurricanes in our countries?
After the service, the congregation walked to Bellahouston to join the thousands already gathered there. We set off at 11 am to the sound of pipes and a samba band (SambaYaBamba!) along Paisley Road West and down across the “Squinty Bridge” – people of all ages and physical conditions, including one intrepid lady in an electric wheelchair.
Along the way, people came to their windows to see what was going on and stayed to wave to us encouragingly. As we marked time at Finnieston while the police ensured traffic conditions were safe for us to proceed, there was the opportunity to see the length of the march and the numbers involved (7000 by conservative police estimates) and we practised some Mexican waves. On reaching Kelvingrove Park, we listened to a number of inspiring speakers and looked round the stalls before departing for home, and we were glad to have taken part, particularly when we realised that our numbers compared well with the march in London! Many might say “Why bother and what did it achieve?” but if we don’t take action, we can’t complain when our voices are ignored and those with contrary views are claiming no-one cares.