Take 21 WI stewards. Take Truro, a Cathedral City, and take a Cathedral. Take 100 primary school children with climate banners and placards marching through the city with their teachers and parents, stewarded by WI members. The children process into the Cathedral, past a congregation which fills the nave, to the sound of the Cornwall County Youth Choir singing Stand by Me. The children become a massed school choir, singing songs to protect the planet. Bishop Philip Mounstephen preaches a sermon, but he does not preach, he plays a game with the children – how many words related to the Earth can you make from the word harvest? – and the children have a great time working it out, with the help of the congregation.
The County Youth Choir, conducted by Angela Renshaw, sing Northern Lights by Ola Gjeilo, unaccompanied, with words from the Latin Pulchra Es text from The Song of Solomon. It was wonderful! Luci Isaacson tells the congregation about the 10 Pledges, and gets a ring of children to show how big nine metres of Arctic ice is – how much ice you can save from melting in a year by switching to green energy. Pixie Parkyn and Olivia Lowry from the Young Writers’ Workshop read two poems about climate change. Then we sing All Things Bright and Beautiful, and we go home full of reflection.
That is how it went last Sunday afternoon. This time next year, there will be a crucial climate conference, COP26, hosted by this country and held in Glasgow. Ann Jones, Vice Chair of NFWI, will be speaking. Can we use this wonderful service as a platform so that WI members from across England and Wales, from every faith group or none, encourage their communities to do something similar? We must make it absolutely clear to the Government that we expect them to act on climate change.