Climate Action

Faith Communities build a symphony of change and hope against climate change

The clock is ticking on our chance to avoid the effects of irreversible climate change, with the 2019 IPCC report giving us only eleven years left to act. 

With rising food and water insecurity concentrated in places with preexisting conflicts and extreme weather events, it is evident that climate change is already devastating the world’s most vulnerable communities. Still, 100.4 degree Fahrenheit temperatures in Siberia last month and record high global CO2 levels warn that we are all susceptible to the climate crisis.

Yielding courage in the face of the report’s alarming figure, people of faith have built unity and hope. EDN’s Faith Outreach program encourages leaders to incorporate the call for environmental stewardship in their messaging and empower people of faith to use their voices effectively. 

On the eleventh day of each month, 11th Hour Calling does just that. Uniting a passionate interfaith community of climate activists, sacred instruments are sounded to call on our leaders to take urgent climate action. 

Together, this interfaith community rings church bells, strikes Buddhist gongs and singing bowls, recites the 99 names of Allah, sings nasheed (Islamic songs), recites Quran, blows the shofar or plays the daf or djembe for eleven minutes. These sacred instruments have traditionally announced danger, celebrated victory and paid homage to higher powers within a community. Today, 11th Hour Calling forges new rituals that bridge cultures to call attention to the urgency of our climate crisis. 

Holding gatherings on the eleventh day of each month symbolizes the pressing reality of the climate crisis, while still giving members agency to change this reality. 

Motivated by various faiths, participants regularly challenge themselves and each other to take more actions for our planet. These manifest on the individual level, with personal changes to one’s lifestyle, and on the structural level, pushing for leadership and legislation that will build a healthier world.

Together in hope through action, faith communities bring a unique perspective to the fight against climate change. The shared values of justice and harmony with the earth show that faith of any origin can become a much-needed driving force for change and progress. Even during the challenges of COVID-19, coming together to work toward a sustainable future is essential.

As the songs grow stronger with every instrument, the message becomes more powerful with every voice. Earth Day Network’s Faith Outreach program works to unite all people of faith under the common goal of protecting our people and planet; visit the campaign page to learn more. 

Mary Beth Downing is an organizer of 11th Hour, in Boulder, Colorado, where she plans a monthly interfaith response to the climate crisis. 

Kenna Beban is an intern at Earth Day Network, and studies journalism and environmental studies at New York University. She enjoys exploring the beaches and forests of her native Bay Area, and has been known to strike a tune on the guitar from time to time. After graduating from NYU, she hopes to continue working for the environmental movement worldwide.