Resources‎ > ‎Worship Resources‎ > ‎

Praying for Copenhagen

World leaders met from 7-18 December 2009 at Copenhagen (COP15) to negotiate targets for reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, and funding for developing countries to adapt to climate change.  The Copenhagen negotiations were widely considered to have failed.  However, talks continued at Bonn, Germany during 9-11 April 2010, and the aim is now to complete negotiations in Cancun, Mexico (COP16) during 29 November - 10 December 2010.

Before Copenhagen

Bishop James Jones of Liverpool and Sir John Houghton issued an Urgent Call to Prayer and Action (pdf, 83k) for a successful outcome to the conference.

Archbishop Rowan Williams preached at The Wave climate march on 5 December 2009.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu's message from Cape Town.

The European Christian Environment Network produced liturgical material for Copenhagen.

The following services and prayer vigils took place around Devon.

Prayer for action on climate change

Creator God, this earth is miraculous and beautiful. Forgive our confusion and inaction as we confront the challenges of climate change. In the light of your truth, seen so clearly in the life and teaching of Jesus, help us to re-examine ourselves and our lifestyle choices and see clearly the implications of how we live on all that sustains life on this earth. May we follow your leading in caring for every aspect of this precious world, which you made, and love.

We pray for world leaders to agree a new, just and radical treaty in Copenhagen that will protect our fragile world for future generations.

Throughout history you have moved people to do amazing things for the sake of their neighbours. Inspire us now to work together, as your people, to change priorities in the way we live, so that we build a fair and safe world for all your creation; a world where your will is done as it is in heaven.


A Hymn for COP15
Tune: Thornbury 76 76 D

1. The whole earthly Creation
reflects God’s heavenly grace,
since life has now developed
upon this globe in space;
and now our human industry
is threatening all its worth,
with unchecked global warming
one Hope, one Chance, one Earth

3. The task at Copenhagen’s
to cut back greenhouse gas,
that humankind in future
will not face death and loss;
the targets of our rulers
must demonstrate resolve,
to save our children’s children,
one Globe, one God, one Love

2. Our scientists and leaders
now recognise this trend.
Unless we change our habits,
our lives themselves might end.
So now they make decisions
to implement our voice,
to shrink our carbon footprint
one God, one World, one Choice

4. We call out to our God now
that we united be,
and our destructive lifestyles
be lost to history.
We move ahead together
agreeing a new accord
to limit our emissions
In faith, in Christ, our Lord.

Martyn Goss (b 1955)
Copenhagen, December 2009

At Copenhagen

Martyn Goss was in Copenhagen, keeping the pressure on through participating in a series of events at St Alban's church on the faith perspective and climate justice.  Read his blog.

Archbishop Rowan Williams preached at an ecumenical service in St Alban's Cathedral, Copenhagen on 13 December 2009.
After the service, the World Council of Churches organised bell-ringing across the world.

A Prayer for the Earth
Used in the service in St Alban’s Cathedral in Copenhagen on 13 December 2009

Most gracious God, creator of all good things, we thank you for planet earth and all creatures that share it.

Have mercy on us, Lord. Through ignorance and carelessness we have poisoned clean air and pure water. For monetary gain we have reduced verdant forests to barren wastes. In our craving for more we have plundered your beloved creation and driven many of our fellow creatures to extinction. Only recently have we begun to realize the dangerous future into which our current patterns of consumption and waste are driving us, especially in relation to earth’s climate. Only recently have we begun to see our need to find a wiser and better way of life in the future, before it is too late and our choices are limited by the consequences of inaction.

We who join in prayer today believe the time has come, Lord. Please guide us now, our God, at this critical moment in history, to better fulfil our role as stewards of this fragile planet. Guide the leaders of nations who gather in Copenhagen this week and next. Give them courage to set noble goals that reach beyond short-range political expediency, short-term economic profit, and short-sighted self-interest. Impress upon their conscience our sacred duty to bequeath to our children and grandchildren a healthy and thriving environment rather than a world in climate crisis.

If our leaders fail, Lord, to take the necessary action, they will violate both our trust and your calling to use their power for the common good. If they fail, every person will be affected, including generations not yet born. Rouse us all to action for we are all woven together in the fabric of creation.

This is the moment, God, when a great turning of hearts must begin. So through this prayer, we of many traditions who follow Christ -- joined by friends and neighbours of many faiths – unite our hearts in a cry for change.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray in the name of Christ, through whom you have given yourself to the whole world in incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection.


Tim Costello, World Vision

After Copenhagen

Martyn and Clare both wrote reflections, available from Martyn's blog.

Owen Prewett (Environmental Officer, St Albans Cathedral, Copenhagen) also wrote some reflections and a prayer based on the Magnificat, below.

Prayer based on the Magnificat
Used on 20 December 2009, the Sunday after the close of the Copenhagen negotiations

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, whose holy mercy endures from generation to generation:

We give thanks for the supreme gift You gave us in the Prince of Peace:
Who came to do your will in the world and offer himself in selfless sacrifice for our redemption:
To take down the monarchs from their thrones and exalt the humble:
To put Your law into our hearts and give us understanding: to gather us into one flock.

We ask for help to live our lives in compliance with Your will,
So that the time of Your dominion can come.

We rejoice, Lord, as we wait here in darkness with eager longing for the revelation of Your mystery, the birth of light and the hope of all nations.

We pray for our church here at St. Alban’s,
Giving thanks for all those who helped keep the church open during the twelve days of the Conference of Parties, making it into a house of prayer for all peoples.

We give thanks for Archbishop Rowan’s presence among us and the message he imparted to us:
Help us to sift ourselves: to find discernment, to burn off the chaff of ignorance,
So that we may better cherish the wheat from which we bake the bread of life.

We thank and praise you for the mystery of the universe and the miracle of life.
Help us to delight in Creation as you do, and to be its responsible stewards:

We pray for a deepening of understanding as the Conference of Parties moves from Copenhagen to Bonn,
and we pray for the resolution of differences that dogged negotiations in this city:
That our leaders and representatives can act in and out of trust for the healing of our planet and for the common good.
We pray for the people of Mexico as they prepare to receive the COP next year.

We continue to pray for victims of climate change everywhere:
For those who’ve lost their homes and livelihoods to famine, fire and flood.
We ask you to help us bring fertility to the wildernesses of the world,
To bring the deserts we’ve created in our lives back to life.
Guide us on the path of holiness and help us translate our faith into action.

Though our nights are long and dark, and despair descends on us,
And for us, everything seems impossible, we know that, for You, Lord, as Your son taught us, everything is possible:
Sustain us in that belief, that everything may become possible for us:
That we may be remade, renewed and reborn in your image,
Following the example your Son set for us by word and by deed.


Owen Prewett, Environmental Officer, St Albans Cathedral, Copenhagen