Earth Hour 2020

Suggestions for celebrating at home alone, with your family or house-mates in this time of Government Lockdown due the Coronavirus Crisis.

Earth Hour started as a symbolic lights-out event in 2007 and is now a powerful environmental movement for nature and climate.

On the last Saturday in March, it starts in Australia and spreads around the world as night takes hold from east to west – all at 8.30 local times. In recent years, iconic buildings in most countries have gone ‘dark’ for the hour eg Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tour, The Houses of Parliament and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The ‘People & Planet’ group at St. Stephen’s has marked Earth Hour every year but one since 2011 with a shared meal, switching out all electric lights at 8.30 for one hour. We have lit candles to share prayers, bible readings and other appropriate texts as well as had periods of silence to reflect on the damage man/woman has done to the planet and consider what we could all do to help prevent further pollution and loss to wildlife. In recent years, we have made personal pledges before lights are reluctantly turned on and we conclude with a blessing.

This year we hope others in church may consider trying some of these ideas to join us at 8.30pm on Saturday 28th March.

Eat a simple meal and ensure you’re free to enjoy what’s ahead well before 8.30. I recommend:- which gives loads of ideas for all ages from improvising shadow puppet plays  and ‘camping out’ indoors making ‘tents’ from bedsheets for young kids, to eco-friendly fashion shows making costumes from recyclable materials for older youth - as well as games and quizzes for all.

You may like to watch one or both short films (No. 9 on this website) Both are excellent. Sir David Attenborough, talking in his inimitable way of the effects of Climate Change, and offering things we can do to halt and hopefully reverse the damage. The other is Greta Thunberg – the prophetic voice of youth. Each film takes less than 10 minutes.
Lights out at 8.30pm.

  1. Light candles BUT BE AWARE OF FIRE RISKS, especially if young children are present. Tea lights in jam jars are safer than tall dinner candles that could get knocked over. P&P allow head torches for reading, or even the use of a phone where necessary. And a lap-top to follow the song……..
  2. Sing a song! There are many hymns and worship songs to choose from – here are a few available on YouTube – choose those with wonderful pictures and lyrics to sing along to
    ‘Great is thy Faithfulness’ the BBC.Co.UK version from Mont St. Michel (Cathedral setting with choir and big congregation),
    ‘O Lord my God/How Great Thou Art’. (Congregational, band led with lovely pictures)
    ?‘The Deer’s Cry/I Arise today’
  3. Read the Creation Story from Genesis Chapter 1, and importantly, Chapter 2 Verse 15, where God takes Adam aside and tells him to ‘work the Garden of Eden and TAKE CARE of it’.
  4. Prayer of Thanks for the beautiful world we have been given by God:The world belongs to God, the earth and all its people.
    How good and how lovely it is to live together in unity.
    Love and Faith come together, justice and peace join hands.
    If the Lord’s disciples keep silent, these stones would shout aloud.
    Open our lips O God, and our mouths shall proclaim your praise! (from the Iona community Worship Book)
  5. Confession:O God, your fertile earth is slowly being stripped of its riches - OPEN OUR EYES TO SEE
    O God, your living waters are slowly being choked with chemicals and plastics - OPEN OUR EYES TO SEE
    ?O God, your clear air is slowly being filled with pollutants - OPEN OUR EYES TO SEE
    O God, your creatures are slowly dying, and your people are suffering - OPEN OUR EYES TO SEE
    God our Maker, so move us with the wonder of creation THAT WE REPENT AND CARE MORE DEEPLY
    So, move us to grieve the loss of life,
    (from The Iona Community Worship Book)
  6. Reflect and consider a personal pledge of promise to keep….even a small change in behaviour can make a big difference so make it realistic and doable.You might want to write down any promise you make, to remind yourself in the coming days!

    Ideas could include:

    Change what you eat – a balanced diet with more plant-based food, meat and fish only from sustainable sources - and don’t waste food.
    Change what you buy – paper and card products made from recycled or sustainable sources and clothing made from natural fibres.
    Change to a clean energy company supplying 100% renewable gas and electricity to power your home.
    Ask the businesses you buy from for assurance that products contain either no Palm Oil or only Palm Oil certified as sustainable by the RSPO – so reducing de-forestation.
    Explore and restore nature locally – support our local parks and gardens, treat them well and join in community litter picks etc where possible.
  7. Finish with a Prayer of Blessing at 9.30pmMay the angels of light glisten for us this day.
    May the sparks of God’s beauty dance in the eyes of those we love
    May the universe be on fire with Presence for us this day.
    May the new sun’s rising grace us with gratitude.
    Let earth’s greenness shine and its waters breathe with Spirit.
    Let Heaven’s winds stir the soil of our soul and fresh awakenings rise within us.
    May the almighty angels of light glisten in all things this day.
    May they summon us to reverence, may they call us to life.
    (from Praying with the Earth, John Philip Newell, Church of Scotland Minister and former Warden of Iona Abbey)

You may want to finish by sharing or saying the Grace, before you…
Turn the lights back on
Do share any pictures or stories of what you did!