Interview with Lesley Bond - March 2021

Make COP26 Count is a joint programme run by USPG and Hope for the Future, equipping church congregations with the tools to take spiritual, practical and political action on climate change. These actions include leading a Climate Sunday service, working towards Eco Church accreditation or completing an Energy Audit of the church, and meeting with local MPs to discuss actions that can be taken on climate change.

“Sometimes there are things in life where you don’t have a choice. Something just comes along, and you know you have to do it”, says Lesley Bond, participant in the Make COP26 Count programme.

Lesley’s passion for climate justice has developed in the last few years. “I’ve been involved in environmental action since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report came out in 2018. It had such a shocking effect on me. I was like a new convert!”. Make COP26 Count launched at the perfect time for Lesley. She says, “it’s taken me a while to find my feet and land where I am, having been involved in various environmental groups. Make COP26 Count is where my heart is, and where it has been all the time – with churches and faith groups. I haven’t really analysed it too much, it’s just a deep feeling”.

Lesley worships at St Gabriel’s church in Aldersbrook, East London, and the congregation has been receptive to Make COP26 Count. “There is a strong commitment at St Gabriel’s to do something about the climate emergency. In preparation for Climate Sunday, we reached out to people both within and outside the church to hear their concerns about climate change. We received lots of encouraging responses and have included people from outside the church in our Climate Sunday service”.

Lesley has also appreciated being part of a wider cohort of churches participating in Make COP26 Count. She says, “It has been incredibly helpful to be a part of a wider group of churches involved in this programme. There’s a real sense of community, even though we can’t actually meet in person”. Discussing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Make COP26 Count, Lesley revealed that “lockdown has actually been quite helpful. It’s made a lot of church-related activities much quicker and more effective”.

Lesley is a little apprehensive about the next step in the programme but is treating it as an opportunity to learn. “I’m not particularly looking forward to the political advocacy part of the programme, because I don’t feel confident meeting MPs and telling them what we would like to achieve”. Integrating environmental action into church activities has been more to Lesley’s interest: “I have really enjoyed the Climate Sunday preparation – it’s creative and liturgical and that’s much more to my liking. I think that’s the beauty of the Body of Christ, that we can all be good at different things”.

To find out more about Make COP26 Count, visit www.uspg.org.uk/cop26.


Above: Lesley Bond, participant in the Make COP26 Count programme.