Hong Kong Christians who are used to the impact of typhoons and live in one of the world's most crowded cities are among believers all over the globe who have committed themselves to practical measures to combat human-induced climate change.
The Hong Kong Climate Conscious Christmas Coalition launched a campaign on Nov. 27, ahead of the Dec. 7-18 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. They invited local congregations to spend a green Christmas season by switching off lights on the eve of the feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus about 2000 years ago.
"Saving energy is a crucial way to reduce our carbon footprint," the coalition said in its introductory letter. "The wise men from the East would not be able to visit the infant Jesus if he had been born in this age, due to pollution of the atmosphere preventing them from following the star," it stated.
Hong Kong is situated next to a key industrial growth area of southern China where residents experience heavy pollution that often darkens the skies.
The coalition asked congregations to choose fair-trade products originating from developing nations as Christmas gifts, "for these countries often suffer the most under the threat of global warming." It also suggested that Christians adopt a vegetarian, or organic, menu for their Christmas parties, to demonstrate their care for the environment.
At the campaign's opening ceremony, a theologian, the Rev. Benedict H.B. Kwok, encouraged Christians to pay greater attention to environmental issues, noting stewardship of the earth is a central theme of their faith.
St. John's Anglican Cathedral, the Chinese Rhenish Church and the Chapel of the Chinese University of Hong Kong are some of the churches and linked organizations that are part of the campaign.
Earlier in 2009, a Roman Catholic group, Messengers of Green Consciousness, initiated a five-month prayer campaign for the U.N. Copenhagen Climate Meeting, from Aug. 15 to Dec. 31.
"We have mobilized over 4,000 Christians and people of goodwill to join this campaign. We are asking Christians to join the nine days of prayer from Dec. 8 to 16, to pray for the wisdom of the government officials who join the Copenhagen meeting, and for a satisfactory outcome of the meeting," a Catholic priest, the Rev. Anthony Chang, told Ecumenical News International.
"Christians should think about how to spend Christmas in a green way. Christmas is not about consumption," he said. "We need prayers, and we also need to re-prioritize our life and to care for creation."