Young Christians are walking and cycling in a relay pilgrimage which began in Cornwall in June and will finish at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November.
The pilgrimage is organised by the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) to draw attention to the effects of climate change on the world’s poorest communities.
On Monday 20th September twenty walkers made their way from Tadcaster, travelling through Copmanthorpe and Bishopthorpe, before arriving at York for refreshments at St Michael-le-Belfrey church and a service at York Minster. In Bishopthorpe, the walkers were joined by the Bishop of Selby, the Rt Revd Dr John Thomson, who walked the final miles to York with them. At the Millennium Bridge in Fulford, the relay was welcomed by York members of Stitches for Survival, who joined the last stretch of the walk displaying some beautifully embroidered panels, calling for the Earth to be put centre-stage at COP26.
Phoebe Power, one of the lead walkers for the York-Ripon section: “I want to be part of the young, hope-filled and empowering movement for climate justice that is YCCN. Walking together in the spirit of pilgrimage is a powerful way to embody our connection to each other, to our beautiful and damaged Earth, and to the God who loves us and wants us to be reconciled with our only home, this planet. I hope that decision-makers at COP26 listen to the agony of communities worldwide suffering climate breakdown, and the desperate pleas of citizens everywhere to make the deep, bold and life-affirming changes that are needed. We need COP26 to trigger the immediate practical measures that we already know are possible, through a responsible, co-operative and ambitious vision which will amaze the world by its sheer scope, creativity and compassion.”
The pilgrimage will stay in York for a series of events organised in partnership with Christian Aid, local churches and Riding Lights Theatre Company, to mobilise people to call for an inclusive, green and just economic recovery which addresses the impacts of Covid, debt and climate change.
Rachel Mander, one of the young people organising the Relay: “We stand in solidarity with people and places that are being plunged into debt and poverty because of climate change. More carbon emissions means more disease, more food insecurity and more poverty. We will be in our 30s when the world reaches 1.5 degrees warming. We will not let the UK government host summits on our doorstep only to hear more talk and no action.”
On Friday 24th September the relay continues further north towards Ripon. As the walkers pass through Yorkshire and the wider country, YCCN hope to gather support and build grassroots pressure on world leaders attending the climate summit to take urgent and decisive action for climate justice.