[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Caribbean is a “paradise” but it is “very, very fragile” and under threat from environmental damage, the Archbishop of the West Indies said. Archbishop Holder, the Bishop of Barbados, made his comments at the third provincial youth gathering, taking place in Grenada.
“We have in the Caribbean, one of the most beautiful and exotic bits of God’s great gift of creation,” he said. “The hills and mountains and the luscious fruitful valleys; the sea and the sun; the sunset and the enchanting moonlight.
“We do live in paradise. Others come in their thousands to share our experience of paradise.
“But it is fragile. Very, very fragile. One strong hurricane, excessive rainfall, extended drought, pollution of any type and our paradise is under threat.”
Speaking about the fifth of the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission, Archbishop Holder told the 160 young people that he had just returned from the international environment consultation in Fiji sponsored by the Anglican mission agency United Society.
“The islands of Fiji are some of the most beautiful in the world, but also the most vulnerable,” he said. “Earlier this year a typhoon – their hurricane – destroyed a lot of the housing on one of the islands.
“The consultation paid a lot of attention to climate change, one of the factors responsible for much of the severe weather we are seeing. It is believed that our lack of care for the environment is one of the major factors affecting climate change.”
In a key-note address in which he unpacked all five Marks of Mission, Archbishop Holder told the young people that the Christian journey is pilgrimage from where we are to where we ought to be.
He cited Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5 where Jesus said “‘You have heard that it was said…’ – stating where we are, and ‘but I say…’ – pointing to where we ought to be.”
The Archbishop continued: “This call to cross over from where we are to where we ought to be is a call that is at the very heart of the Christian message. It applies to all areas of life. It is put to work and seen at work most of all when we use it as our guide for our Christian journey and pursue the Christian ideals set out for us by our Lord.
“These ideals are related to all areas of life. We believe as Anglicans that God wants us to relate our Christian beliefs to every area of our life, to our personal issues, to the issues of our communities, to the issues of the world.”
And speaking about the current increase in violence across the world, the Archbishop said: “We try not to divide God’s world into bits that are more important and bits that are less important to him. When we do so we draw people into the mix and then claim that there are some people in the world who are more important than others.
“The sea of deaths that we are witnessing at the hand of extremists in the world is built on the assumption that some people can be destroyed – all for what those who do so see as a justifiable cause.
“We are also witnessing at this time, what seems to be another racial melt-down in the USA. There are those who are saying that in that society, Black people are treated in a different way from White people. Black lives do not matter, they claim. There is abundance evidence to support this claim.
“But this type of discrimination leads us to a very slippery slope where we draw God in on our side to support our prejudices, and claim that he loves some of his children far more than he loves others.
“We reject this understanding of our relationship to God and God’s relationship to the world. We believe that God loves his entire world in spite of all its faults.”