Safeguarding the Integrity of Creation
A Statement from concerned Bishops at the Lambeth Conference August 2008
Genesis 1:27, 28. So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and God said to them, be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.
Genesis 1: 29 And God said, Behold, I have given every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
Genesis 9:11 I establish my covenant with you that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood to destroy the earth.
Psalm 8: 4, When I look at your heavens the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
John 1: 1 – 3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being
Romans: 8:18 - 21 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the Children of God; for the creation was subject to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Colossians 1: 15 -20 He is the image of the invisible of God, the first born of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created…… for in him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
Few would now doubt that climate change, is being exacerbated and accelerated by human activity and that this change is one of, if not, the most pressing problem facing the world community in the 21st century. Meeting the millennium development goals, the reduction of security risks, a slowing of the movements of peoples away from their homelands, accessibility to clean water, stabilising world grain prices, prevention of disease; these and many other issues are directly related to the manner and speed in which the world community combines together to set bench marks which enable long term sustainability.
In the face of this challenge, the Anglican Community, in partnership with peoples of faith everywhere, must ask whether we are exacerbating the problem or contributing to the solution. It is argued by those outside faith that religion generally and Christianity in particular is the problem, because of its emphasis upon "dominion" (cf Genesis 1:27/28), and the individual.
The changing climate is a call upon us to examine our impact upon the global environment and to take action where our human activities pollute the air, water and soil or contribute to the global food crisis. This challenge is an opportunity for us to redeem our story and its proclamation and to make clear what has always been true. We contend that environmental issues are core issues to us and that our response arises out of what we have always believed about God, our world and ourselves.
However, we also recognise that the crisis we face is integrally related to the dominant political and economic systems of our time. These have to change. The market alone will not/cannot do what Government legislation at an international level must do. The world cannot any longer cope with rampant consumerism and unlimited economic growth. Realistically costed carbon is essential. Binding emission targets must be in place. Changes to taxation systems are necessary to ensure that the market moves in the direction of renewable energy, that fairer and sustainable trade for the poor people is ensured and that fossil fuel dependency is immediately and drastically reduced. We encourage Anglicans to do all in their power to lobby their governments to act cooperatively for a new world order which will enhance the life style of all and lead to long term sustainability for future generations
We believe this is God's 'oikoumene', God's world and we need to walk lightly and humbly within and upon it. We are stewards of that which comes from and returns to God. We believe that all of life is precious and indeed that God has so designed creation that for one part to flourish all must flourish. Further, we believe that God has created the world in balance: land and water, light and darkness, evening and morning, sowing and reaping, winter and summer, birth and death, belong together; to exploit one to the detriment of another is to put all in jeopardy.
We believe that God has created human beings to live in community with each other, and in harmony with the created order. We acknowledge the interrelatedness of all things. We denounce activity through which human beings seek an unwarranted advantage over other human beings or act at the expense of the created order.
We believe that God has created animals as sentient beings whose welfare must be respected. We acknowledge a responsibility of care and reject cruel practices towards animals be they wild, companion, farm or laboratory animals.
We believe that creation and redemption are the two great activities of God and that being made in the image of God we human beings have a vocation to both. We are called to be co-creators and co- redeemers with God in and for the whole created order.
We affirm the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount that human beings should not store up for themselves more than is their share and that to do so is to create an injustice which ultimately affects the whole of life.
We affirm the Sabbath principle that grants space and rest, and restoration of that which has been wrongly or unjustly exploited. We recognise that all of God's creation has the capacity for restoration and renewal if given rest. We affirm in this principle a source of hope for all life, for it is in returning and rest that all can be restored.
We recognise that our civilisation is at a precarious point in its history, human greed and exploitation have within them the seeds of global destruction.
We acknowledge that the human population is now of such proportion that the human economy which draws all of its resource from God's great economy, is now dangerously able to throw the "Great Economy" out of balance.
We note that human beings who live in the developed world, out of their relative prosperity, are far greater contributors (per capita) to human induced climate change than those who live in the developing world and therefore while the responsibility of responding to the challenge of global warming belongs to all, the responsibility is considerably greater upon those who live in the developed world. With some urgency we encourage Anglicans who live in the developed world to adapt their life style with the aim of halving their personal footprint and in so doing contributing to national and international targets.
As children of Abraham and Sarah, we affirm the right of future generations to a life free of the cost burden associated with the life style of those who have gone before. We therefore assert moral responsibility upon those of us who contribute to the problem to meet the cost and to take personal action to reduce our lifestyle impact upon the planet.
We commend to the Communion a deeper study and understanding of what have been called "maps of meaning" as a spiritual reflection that can provide a new language to us all form a very ancient global tradition. For centuries traditional indigenous communities have sought to express in act and liturgy abiding interconnectedness between human beings and the natural order. On every continent these "maps of meaning have enriched our global heritage as integral parts of a good world made by a loving creator. Put into a Christian context, they have helped us locate God's constant care for creation in reality. They have reminded us that we are not aliens in a wilderness to be conquered, but kinsfolk in a garden to be cherished and nurtured.
We affirm choice as one of the most significant gifts of God to his people. Choose life! We acknowledge that prosperity extends choice and that poverty diminishes it. We call upon Anglicans who are privileged to live in communities of prosperity to exercise the choices available to them for a more just, equitable and sustainable world. We strongly encourage commitment to the millennium development goals in order that the poor of the world may live in dignity, empowering them with similar choice.
Call to Action
- We call upon the leaders of our communities to take every opportunity through teaching preaching and the celebration of liturgy to stir a passion for this fifth mark of Mission.
- We urge Provinces, Dioceses and congregations to undertake environmental audits and to set targets which reduce the carbon footprint.
- We encourage every local congregation to do all in their power to support and develop their local flora and fauna.
- We encourage the rapid expansion of fair trade outlets throughout the Communion so that people in the developing world may receive a just price for their agricultural product.
- We affirm the goal of locally generated energy which eliminates dependency upon nationally generated "dirty power".
- We call upon the international community to set emission targets with immediate effect
- We urge members of faith communities who enjoy "western lifestyles" to take action to reduce their personal impact on global warming by: for example
- Use of public transport, insulation of homes, collecting rain water, installation of photo voltaic cells, radically reducing consumption, not wasting purchased goods, commitment to all forms of recycling, reduction in the use of energy, sharing resources, making each home and locality as sustainable as possible.
We recommend that all Provinces within areas of greatest greenhouse gas emissions (E.g. USA Canada Japan Australia etc) become familiar with and support the Genesis Covenant (www.genesiscovenant.org) as an opportunity for collective action, maximising opportunity for cooperation at a national level.