Christians are being invited to light a candle for the climate in a new global initiative to raise awareness and promote prayer and action in response to the world’s climate change crisis.

The #ClimateVigil campaign – which is being spearheaded by the US-based Evangelical Climate Network along with the Million Prayer Mission, World Evangelical Alliance, World Renew and arts collective, the Porter’s Gate Worship Project, will also see the launch of a new worship album, billed as the first “major Christian music album to focus on the climate crisis”.

The campaign, the first phase of which involves recording the album in the French capital Paris - the city where the legally binding international treaty on climate change was adopted in December, 2016 - this month, will culminate in a global vigil and virtual concert debuting songs from the new album on 6th November as the COP26 climate summit is held in Glasgow, Scotland.  

Peter Fargo, director of the Million Prayer Mission and one of the organisers of the campaign, told Sight the initiative seeks to inspire “millions of Christians to light a candle for our climate as a symbol of prayer and as a symbol of our call to act on behalf of our love of God and our love of neighbour”. 

Peter Fargo Million Prayer Mission

Peter Fargo, director of the Million Prayer Mission. PICTURE: Supplied.

Speaking from US state of Oregon, Fargo said prayer is fundamental to “who we are as Christians” and involves connecting “ourselves and our actions with God’s purposes for us, for His creation”.

“So having a candle as a symbol of prayer is an accessible way for everyone to participate, whether they have an active prayer life, an active relationship with the Lord or not,” he said. 

He said that while climate change can be seen as a “cerebral challenge”, the act of lighting a candle is a way to “make it real” and to “manifest the challenge with our hands and our hearts”.

“That is our hope – that it’s a first step for people to say ‘This is happening and we have a responsibility as Christ followers to respond’.”

While songs from the new album, which is being supported through a crowd-funding campaign, will be launched at the November event, the full album will be released in the first half of next year with a tour to follow. Those who have already signed on as songwriters and recording artists include Paul Zach, Liz Vice, Jonathan Ogden, Leslie Jordan, Latifah Alattas, Andy Squyres, IAMSON, Ike Ndolo, Kate Bluett, John Arndt and Jo Guerra.

Fargo said the initiative was “blessed” to have the Porter’s Gate Worship Project on board.

“Their approach to worship is unique and it’s reflected in their name, The Porter’s Gate, and the metaphor there is of a porter waiting at a gate for weary travellers to help them carry their baggage into the monastery,” he said. “We are the church and we often have these boundaries, literal or figurative, but to invite others in is part of their mission and part of all of our mission as Christians and those who share the Gospel.”

Isaac Wardell, the director of The Porter’s Gate, said in a statement that the community was “excited to bring the Biblical conversation about caring for God’s creation and advocating for climate justice deeper into the church through worship and music”.

“We are singing together what we believe about God's love for everyone, the value of His created world, and our commitment to caring for His creation and each other.”

Rev Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, vice president of the Evangelical Environmental Network – another of the organisations involved in the initiative, highlighted the important role the music is playing in the campaign.

Noting in published comments that the impact of climate change on “those who have contributed least to the problem and have the fewest resources to adapt, like the poor, our kids, and future generations” was in injustice the church needs to respond to, he added that “like other movements for justice, we need songs to sustain, guide, and inspire us”. 

“We believe this worship album can provide the church with those songs as it seeks to respond faithfully to the climate crisis.”

While the initiative is only in the initial stages of raising awareness, Fargo told Sight that the goal was to have at least a million people from across the globe take part in the candle vigil including Christians from across denominations. 

He said that as well as having people participate in the vigil, one of the goals of the initiative was to have people step up as “leaders in their community to invite others to join them in lighting a candle on a weekly basis going forward into 2022 to build a sense of community and a sense of discipleship around that act and then to translating that symbolic act and prayerful gathering into practical actions that reduce greenhouse emissions in our communities – planting trees, installing solar panels, off-setting emissions”.

“That is where we would love to be in the future.”