Monday 23 February 2015 at 21:01The "Eco Bishops" Are Here!
by Rev. Rachel Mash, Environmental Coordinator, Anglican Church of Southern Africa
Anglican bishops from various countries impacted by climate change are in Cape Town this week to work out strategies for achieving climate justice. Called together by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, bishops were chosen from countries reflecting the greatest challenges we face—from the sea level rise of Fiji, the deforestation of Argentina, the droughts of Namibia, the tsunamis of the Philippines and the storms of New York, and the warming of Alaska.
These bishops are united in their commitment to addressing these environmental challenges.
The bishops will share their experience in responding to climate change so far, their hopes, their concerns, and ideas about how they, specifically, might organize themselves better for that purpose. They will have an opportunity to reflect and study together, and to look at the obstacles they face and discern what they can do, by working together to move through these obstacles.
By the end of the week, a strategic plan will be developed for themselves, with proposals for broader engagement in the Anglican Communion.
Science and the experience of the impacts of climate change suggest that in many ways survival is at stake—for human communities and for the ecosystems on which human life depends. We have listened to Anglicans in a number of regions where congregations face food and water shortages and other stresses that are directly linked to climate change. The meeting and the broader project will enable Anglicans at leadership level to make coordinated efforts towards upholding human dignity and the integrity of creation, and strengthening interdependence within the Anglican Communion as we become better stewards of God’s creation.
It is hoped that the outcomes of this project will have an impact that reaches far beyond the present time. By responding to climate change, faithfully, prayerfully and proactively, this new core group of bishops will become visible in offering biblical and moral leadership in the area of climate justice. Their experience and deliberations will be communicated to Anglicans and others around the world via ACEN, news releases, and other forms of media.
As a resource for the broader Communion, a concise report will be produced, gathering the bishops’ lived experience and responses to climate change and setting out future actions. More Anglicans will understand that responding to climate change is part and parcel of our baptismal vocation and will be active in greening their homes, churches and communities and in speaking out on behalf of those experiencing the worst effects of climate change.
The Anglican Church will become active in global advocacy.
The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (currently the chair of ACEN) will have shared the experiences and deliberations of the core group with his sister and brother Primates. Anglican leadership will increasingly be taking the initiative in networking effectively with ecumenical partners, other faith groups, government, and UN structures. Those currently affected by the impacts of climate change will be given a voice at the international level of the Communion, and know that they are remembered and supported, both in the prayer and in practical ways.
Those who have the power to curtail carbon emissions will have a fresh sense of how their actions can have a positive impact on their sisters and brothers in other parts of the world and contribute towards climate justice.
The Anglican Communion will benefit from a shared endeavour.
For more information, contact Rev. Rachel Mash
Header image via flickr user Dietmar Temps