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World News

Controversial church banner torn down ahead of climate conference

by Kelly Valencia

A church banner in Glasgow has sparked a debate over the role of Christians in speaking out about climate change.

The banner, hanging outside The Tron Church located nearby COP26 venues, reads: "The world´s most urgent need is churches preaching Christ crucified not climate change".

Pictures have been circulating on social media since Saturday prompting many people to share their thoughts.

"It is rude and provocative, and I can't think who will be encouraged to try out church from seeing that!" Jenny Symmons tweeted.

Chad Rigney, another Twitter user, said: "The banner is clear in the point. And I think the point is correct."

In a statement to Premier, the lead pastor of the church, William Philip defended the banner and said that explaining the Church's mission to preach Christ crucified and not something else "should hardly be controversial".

"It seems that saying, when the COP is happening right on our doorstep, that there is something more important (far more important) the church must speak about is embarrassing for some Christians.

"I think that betrays a dangerous misunderstanding of the real urgency of the message we have been charged with taking to the world: an eternal, supernatural gospel." Pastor William said.

But for Andy Lester, head of conservation at Christian environmental charity A Rocha UK, Christ crucified, and climate change "are not two separate things". 

"We know that we serve a God who died at Calvary and rose again, but he died at Calvary for all our sins for all the things that we've done to each other, but also done to the planet, so climate change is a symptom of that scene of that brokenness.

"Climate change is a reflection of Christ crucified. They're not two separate things. They're one and the same in terms of the link between sin and salvation and hope, "Lester said.

The banner lasted less than 48 hours after being vandalised and torn down, according to Pastor William.

He concluded: "We are not denying that Christians should care for creation - in the way God commands, of course, and for his purposes (which may be very different from what some climate activists want).  But we are saying that if the world stands at 'one minute to midnight' (to use the Prime Minister's phrase) the real urgency is for people to know what that means. And the unique charge of the Christian church is to herald that truth, and the consequent essential warning to mankind."

You can read Pastor William's statement in full here.



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