A Pastoral Message on Climate Change

A Pastoral Message on Climate Change

The following Pastoral Message on Climate Change has been issued by Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori with the heads for the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the  Evangelical

September 19, 2014

We are united as Christian leaders in our concern for the well-being of our neighbors and of God’s good creation that provides life and livelihood for all God’s creatures. Daily we see and hear the evidence of a rapidly changing climate. Glaciers are disappearing, the polar ice cap is melting, and sea levels are rising. Incidents of pollution created dead zones in seas and the ocean and toxic algae growth in water supplies are occurring with greater frequency. Most disturbingly, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising at an unprecedented rate. At the same time we also witness in too many instances how the earth’s natural beauty, a sign of God’s wonderful creativity, has been defiled by pollutants and waste.

Many have reacted to these changes with grief and anger. In their outrage some have understandably focused on the neglect and carelessness, both in private industry and in government regulation, that have contributed to these changes. However, an honest accounting requires a recognition that we all participate both as consumers and investors in economies that make intensive and insistent demands for energy. In addition, as citizens we have chosen to support or acquiesce in policies that shift the burdens of climate change to communities that are most vulnerable to its effects. People who are already challenged by poverty and by dislocation resulting from civil war or famine have limited resources for adapting to climate change’s effects.

While an accounting of climate change that has credibility and integrity must include our own repentance, we find our hope in the promise of God’s own faithfulness to the creation and humankind and in the liberation that comes from God’s promise.

God, who made the creation and made it good, has not abandoned it. Daily the Spirit continues to renew the face of the earth. All who care for the earth and work for the restoration of its vitality can be confident that they are not pursuing a lost cause. We serve in concert with God’s own creative and renewing power.

Moreover, we need not surrender to political ideologies and other modern mythologies that would divide us into partisan factions — deserving and undeserving, powerless victims and godless oppressors. In Christ we have the promise of a life where God has reconciled the human community. In Christ God sets us free from the captivity of blaming and shaming. God liberates us for shared endeavors where we find each other at our best.

While the challenge may seem daunting, the Spirit’s abundant gifts for service empower us to find common cause with people who exercise countless insights and skills, embodied in hundreds of occupations and trades. We have good reason to hope in all the ways God’s grace is at work among us. We can commend ourselves to the work before us with confidence in God’s mercy.

Opportunities to act imaginatively and courageously abound in all our individual callings. The Holy Spirit’s work in us leads us as faithful consumers and investors in a global economy to make responsible choices to reduce energy use, carbon emissions, and the wasteful consumption of water and other natural resources. As citizens, we have voices to use in educating children about the climate and in shaping public and corporate policies that affect the environment. The Spirit has also given us our voices to contribute our witness to public discussion of just and responsible use of natural resources.

We also have the resources and responsibility to act together for the common good, especially for those most vulnerable to the effect of climate change in the spirit of the seventh Millennium Development Goal, “to ensure environmental stability”. World leaders will meet this month in New York for a Climate Summit, and in December in Lima, Peru, to discuss global cooperation on climate change. Working under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), participants in the UNFCCC’s negotiations hope for an agreement in 2015 that will move toward reduction of carbon emissions, development of low carbon technologies, and assistance to populations most vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate.

We encourage you to take the initiative to engage decision-makers in this godly work in all arenas of public life — in government and business, in schools and civic organizations, in social media and also in our church life.

We are not powerless to act and we are not alone. “We have the power of the Holy Spirit and the indwelling Spirit of Christ to give us hope and courage.”i

The present moment is a critical one, filled with both challenge and opportunity to act as faithful individuals and churches in solidarity with God’s good creation.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church


Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

Presiding Bishop

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz


Anglican Church of Canada


Bishop Susan Johnson

National Bishop

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada


New York, New York – See you in September (wherever you are)

The information below is taken from a letter sent to all Anglican parishes in the Diocese of New York. Written by Dr. Jeff Golliher, chair of the diocesan environmental task pcm-id-1b-400-x-400-300x300force, it explains the actions taking place this coming September in New York City around a United Nations Summit and the Peoples’ march organized by Bill McKibbon and the secular group 350.org.

There is so much happening that it is confusing to know who is doing what and why. Concerning the latter, the situation is urgent. Earth’s climate and energy and resource management are going in a very dangerous direction. Dr. Golliher explains the details and reasons for the various actions very clearly. This is worth a careful read.

Also please consider how you can initiate local actions where you live and send your intentions to grayintheforest@shaw.ca so we at the ACEn can track and promote your local activities. This is a time for gathering, for reclection for advocacy and for prayer.

Modified text of diocesan letter now follows:

July 5, 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

If you haven’t heard already, the People’s Climate March will take place in Manhattan, Sunday afternoon, September 21. This will be a hugely important and monumental event. I’m writing to encourage you, members of your congregation, and other friends to participate and/or to be involved in whatever way is appropriate and possible – and know that I’m writing with the support and blessing of our Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Andrew Dietsche. In addition, a culminating interfaith service of worship, after the Climate March, will be held at 6:00 pm at our Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

Below are a few web links that provide all the practical information you need. Plus, you can sign up to endorse the event, even if you can’t be there.

More details are available online at http://peoplesclimate.org/march/
The Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/pages/People-of-Faith-the-Peoples-Climate-March/1462490230660137?ref=profile
Questions may be sent to info@peoplesclimate.org

It is worth taking a moment to underscore why the People’s Climate March is so important. Obviously, the Climate March is not really about the event. It’s about the dire, urgent situation we face as a result of the climate change/climate justice crisis. The Climate March and other related events on the weekend of Sept. 20 and 21 (organized by the World Council of Churches, Religions for Peace, Union Seminary, women’s groups, labor groups, and many others) are being held in connection with a one-day United Nations’ Summit (September 23), convened by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

One purpose of the UN Summit (like the People’s March) is to bring even more attention to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The whole point, to be blunt, is that we don’t have much time to do what needs to be done in order to avert the worst of a catastrophic environmental crisis that has already begun.

This message needs to be heard especially in the United States, where political action and leadership is needed on every level of government, in our financial centers, in our places of worship, and in our places of work. But not only in the United States: the Anglican Alliance has launched an Anglican Communion-wide campaign, called “Oceans of Justice,” to move the Australian government to put climate change on the global G20 agenda for November of this year. By going to this website — http://anglicanalliance.org/pages/8505 — and adding your name, you (and we) can show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Pacific too.

We also want to call your attention to the ecumenical, youth-oriented activities of the Franciscan Action Network and the Franciscan Youth Corps who are organizing events for the Climate March. Check their website periodically in the weeks ahead for updates about that:

If you can be in Manhattan for the Climate March, take your parish banner (or make one). We’re already involved, but it’s also a good idea to let people know who we are.

If you can’t be in Manhattan, you can still participate in your congregation on that day (Sunday, September 21) through reflection, discussion, and prayer. After all, prayer is a powerful form of action too. As our Anglican brother, Archbishop Winston of Tuvalu in the Pacific says, “We need to pray. We need to say very, very clearly to the church that we need to pray because this is something way beyond us. We need to pray that we will be empowered to speak clearly to our elected agents in government who make decisions about climate change.”

End of modified text.

Church of Bangladesh takes further action on climate change after Alliance advocacy webinar

15 July 2014

From the Anglican Alliance website at http://www.anglicanalliance.org/

Participants from Bangladesh, who took part in the Anglican Alliance’s recent advocacy webinar, later met to discuss how their church might take forward advocacy on climate change for the most vulnerable.

A group of priests, development practitioners and church leaders from Bangladesh who took part in the Anglican Alliance’s advocacy webinar in June 2014 were so excited by the discussion that they then met to take forward the insights that were shared.

With the Church of Bangladesh’s critical action on climate change, the group discussed a number of areas where advocacy would help take action on climate change.

Key areas highlighted for advocacy included:

  • Fulfillment of financial commitments by developed countries
  • Stronger monitoring systems for the effective use of climate adaptation and mitigation funds
  • Significance given to community based adaptation
  • Funding allocations to be the same for adaptation and mitigation
  • A focus on issues related to climate change, such as food security.
  • Women, children and the most vulnerable should be considered as a priority in climate justice.
  • Anglican eco-bishops* should have strategic lead roles in climate change advocacy.

The participants proposed that the Church of Bangladesh should take more action on climate change and related issues.

One climate prone area in the country may be chosen to initiate a pilot programme, which will seek more effective interventions to address the effects of climate change.

A community based adaptation approach (CBA) would be taken, and learning from the pilot would be shared, firstly to other areas of Bangladesh and then through the Anglican Alliance family of churches across the Anglican Communion.

The moderator Bishop of the Anglican Church of Bangladesh, the Most. Rev. Paul Sarker is keenly aware of the need to respond to the effects of climate change. Archbishop Sarker is a member of the Eco-Bishops’ Initiative, a project initiated by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, which connects bishops to take action for the environment.


Anglicans learn social justice and reaching out – News from Tonga

Nuku’alofa-July 1: 3.18pm (TDN): Members of the Anglican Church here in Tonga went through a week-long training on Social Justice in Pahu last week, aimed at helping the church carry out its social programs and obligations with more vigour.

tonga 1Program facilitators Aisake Casimira, the Programs Manager with the Pacific Council of Churches in Suva and Mr Joe Saniqa, the Social Justice Coordinator for Diocese of Polynesia, ran the workshop for priests, lay preachers, church officials and members.

Mr Saniqa said the workshop is the second phase which was approved in 2010/2011 by the Diocese of Polynesia, under the Bishop of Polynesia, Bishop Winston Halapua.

“And the workshop really aimed at helping the church members and officials in their different work of taking Christ’s gospel to the people, to the community,” Mr Saniqa said.

Workshop participant Mr Laiseni Fanon Charisma Liava’a told the Tonga Daily News that the workshop was an eye-opener.

“I learned a lot from the workshop, especially in how we can be more effective in reaching out to the societies and communities we live in in the physical sense,” he said.

“I think it was timely for the church to have this kind of workshops and training and I hope that we will have some more follow up programs in the future.

“The workshop has helped me understand the importance of having a structure where we can have different departments and their duties that they need to carry out to be able to meet the church’s vision and mission statement.

“And more importantly to be able to show the people out there Christ’s Gospel of love, of reaching out.”

Mr Liava’a said the church and other religious organisations in Tonga have an important task of reaching out to the people and helping them become better people.

“The gospel is not only about preaching it in church. It is about reaching out to help people get better, live better and be able to look after themselves,” he said.

“That’s the social aspect of the gospel that we need to live.

ORIGINAL POSTING at    http://www.tongadailynews.to/?p=7067



“And the workshop has helped me see that and what we can do to make it happen.”

WCC announces September Interfaith Summit on Climate Change

From the World Council of Churches, via the Anglican Communion News Service

The World Councilwcc sept 2014 of Churches (WCC) announced it will hold an Interfaith Summit on Climate Change on September 21-22 in New York City. At the summit, organized together with Religions for Peace, more than 30 religious leaders will take a united stand to encourage international and political leaders to address concretely the causes and consequences of climate change.

The interfaith summit is being held immediately before the United Nations (UN) Climate Summit, called by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, to galvanize and catalyze climate action, bringing bold announcements and actions that will reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015.

WCC members said they hoped their united voice would be also heard at the upcoming Conferences of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Lima in December 2014 and in Paris in 2015. “We will join our voices in the call for human rights and climate change to be addressed systematically,” said Daniel Murphy, campaigns assistant at the UK-based Environmental Justice Foundation. Murphy spoke to the WCC Central Committee, the governing body of the WCC which is meeting this week in Geneva.

This is a big power game”

The WCC has been addressing climate change issues for more than two decades, and now the effects of climate change on human rights has reached an urgent level, said Kirsten Auken, an advocacy advisor at DanChurchAid, a Danish nonprofit with the mission of supporting the world’s poorest people. Auken said the main message of the interfaith summit will be that “political leaders need to act to close the gap between what is needed and the lack of action on a political level. We, as church-related and faith-based groups, have an important role to play in pushing our leaders to be brave.”

In this case, “pushing” means capturing the attention of political leaders who are in a position to make a difference within the UN. “This is a big power game and we have to admit that,” said Auken. “We have to be the moral voice in this.” At the same time that WCC members challenge political leaders, they also need to take the initiative in their own lives to care for the earth around them, said Metropolitan Serafim Kykkotis, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa. “We must unite through our common action to save the planet and give our children a better future,” he said.

The 30 participants at the summit will represent groups made up of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Indigenous Peoples, and others, said Dr Guillermo Kerber, coordinator of the WCC programme on Care for Creation and Climate Justice. “The relevance is unprecedented because of the crucial moment we are living today. We have called for years to have a fair, ambitious and binding treaty on climate change.”

Kerber and the other summit organizers agreed that the USA is first among the nations that must lead the effort to take climate action, based on science, that can help protect the basic human rights of individuals in this generation and in future ones. US-based pastors and churches are adding their voices to the calls for action, said the Rev. Everdith Landrau, who serves with the Presbyterian Church (USA). “There are conscious programmes that have been trickling down to our local churches,” she said. “Those seeds are being planted.”

WCC’s work on climate justice and care for creation

Why the climate issue is a question of global fairness and justice

Food shortage is one of the most serious consequences of climate change. And the poorest people are affected most. The Church of Sweden wants Sweden and the EU to take much greater responsibility.


Changes in the climate can make dry areas even drier. There is a risk that harvests will decrease dramatically in countries such as Ethiopia. Habibe Yimer, 13 years of age, ploughs the land with his father. Foto: Magnus Aronson/IKON

Climate change involves ethics, fairness and justice, because the poorest people in the world risk being hit the hardest by the food shortage, although they have contributed the least to the carbon dioxide emissions that have led to global warming.

“The consequences of climate change are already evident today: drought and floods are wiping out people’s opportunities of providing for themselves,” says Jacob Risberg, the Church of Sweden’s climate advisor.

Farmers in Ethiopia, Malawi and India, for example, are reporting major changes to rainy seasons and monsoons, which make it more difficult to live off farming.

Flee when the sea level rises
The same applies to those affected by rising sea levels. Many people by the Bay of Bengal have already been forced to flee when their land was submerged by the sea – and many others are in the danger zone.

Emissions and pollutants do not stop at national borders. What happens in one part of the world has repercussions in totally different areas.

Risk of larger numbers of refugees
The food shortage and extreme weather risk leading to an increase in refugee numbers and more conflicts.

The Church of Sweden’s approach is that people in developing countries have the right to develop and to improve their living conditions. If, however, they are to be able to provide for themselves and if the world is to avoid an alarming increase in the lack of food, substantial support is required from the surrounding world so that the most vulnerable countries can adapt to a changed climate.

Developing countries must receive help to avoid becoming fossil fuel dependent. To enable us to stop climate change, developing countries must also receive help to avoid becoming dependent on fossil fuels, so large sums of money are required.

“The richest countries in the world must take much more responsibility for the costs of climate change,” says Jacob Risberg.

The lifestyle of the industrialised world is untenable. We can influence the development to a certain extent through individual choices, but we must also react as a church in a global society.

Harvests can increase despite a poorer climate
The Church of Sweden has a close relationship with people and churches in economically impoverished areas. The challenge is to create commitment to climate issues. The work consists of both mitigating the consequences of and influencing the basic causes of our altered climate.

The Church of Sweden’s international mission and diaconia supports sustainable rural development that boosts harvests, despite the changing climate.

The Church of Sweden wants Sweden to shoulder its responsibility
We are also encouraging Sweden and the EU to shoulder their responsibilities, for example by substantially reducing their emissions and assisting adaptation to climate change in developing countries.

The Church of Sweden’s work continues. Our goal is a fair and just climate agreement that both stops global warming and gives financially disadvantaged people the right to development.



Threatened by climate change, Kiribati buys land in Fiji from CofE

ACNS via The Guardian by Laurence Caramel

The people of Kiribati, a group of islands in the Pacific ocean particularly exposed to climate change, now own a possible refuge elsewhere. President Anote Tong has recently finalised the purchase of 20 sq km on Vanua Levu, one of the Fiji islands, about 2,000km away.kirabati

The Church of England has sold a stretch of land mainly covered by dense forest for $8.77m. “We would hope not to put everyone on [this] one piece of land, but if it became absolutely necessary, yes, we could do it,” Tong told the Associated Press. Kiribati has a population of about 110,000 scattered over 33 small, low-lying islands extending over a total area of 3.5m sq km.

In 2009 the Maldives were the first to raise the possibility of purchasing land in another country in anticipation of being gradually submerged. At the time the government looked at options in India and Sri Lanka.

Now Kiribati has taken action. “Kiribati is just the first on a list which could get longer as time passes,” says Ronald Jumeau, Seychelles ambassador at the United Nations, who took part in the international negotiations on climate change in Bonn last month.