By the Revd Rachel Mash, Environmental Co-ordinator for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, is inviting a group of bishops from various countries impacted by climate change to meet in Cape Town next week.
Bishops will be visiting from a host of countries that reflect today's great environmental challenges: 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.
Sixteen bishops will be gathering in Cape Town from February 23 to exchange ideas and concerns, to share challenges and successes.
First the bishops will hear about the challenges faced in different parts of the globe. Then they will share actions and theologies that have been helpful in moving forward. The goal is to strategise together in order strategies for raising the issue of climate change and environmental degradation throughout the global Anglican Church.
What is the event?
A strategic planning meeting hosted by the Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa of a core group of bishops and archbishops whose dioceses or Provinces are in areas affected by climate change or in areas that contribute significantly to conditions that lead to climate change.
The bishops and archbishops identified are already active in responding to climate change and environmental degradation as a result of human activity in various ways, e.g. through theological exposition and challenge, advocacy, greening churches and communities, and supporting local mitigation.
Building on relationships already established virtually, the meeting will foster a strengthened, working collegiality among the bishops who have been identified and ultimately serve as a catalyst for further response and activities throughout the Communion.
The bishops will share their experience in responding to climate change so far, their hopes, their concerns, and ideas about how they, specifically, might organise 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.
Drawing on their own experiences and ideas, 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, 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 co-ordinated efforts towards upholding human dignity and the integrity of creation, and strengthening interdependence within the Anglican Communion as they 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.
- A group of bishops and archbishops (Eco Bishops) representative of the regions of the Anglican Communion, will have participated in the core group as described above and worked together to formulate an action plan for themselves, with proposals for broader Anglican engagement in responding to climate change, faithfully, prayerfully and proactively.
- The 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 the Anglican Communion Environmental Network) 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 following Eco-Bishops will be coming to Cape Town:
Jane Alexander, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Bishop, Canada; Andrew Dietsche, New York, The Episcopal Church; Nick Drayson, Northern Argentina; Nicholas Holtam, Salisbury, Church of England; David Chillingworth, St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, Scottish Episcopal Church; Chad Gandiya, Harare, Central Africa; William Mchombo, Eastern Zambia, Central Africa; Ellinah Wamukoya, Swaziland, Southern Africa; Stephen Moreo, Johannesburg, Southern Africa; Nathaniel Nakwatumbah, Namibia, Southern Africa; Thabo Makgoba, Cape Town, Church of Southern Africa; Thomas Oommen, Madhya Kerala, Church of South India; Andrew Chan, Hong Kong; Jonathan Casimina, Davao, Philippines; Tom Wilmot, Perth, Australia; and Apimeleki Qiliho, Fiji, Aotearoa-New Zealand.
For more information contact: The Revd Rachel Mash - firstname.lastname@example.org