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Praying for the Paris climate talks

Praying for the Paris climate talks

The Revd Canon Dr Rachel Mash

23 November 2015 8:58AM

What makes two Primates, five bishops and a whole host of Anglicans travel to Paris just days after a terrorist attack devastates the city?

Archbishops Thabo Makgoba (Southern Africa) and Fred Hiltz (Canada), together with Bishops Nicholas Holtam (Salisbury), Marc Andrus (California), Graham Usher (Dudley), Pierre Whalon (Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe) and David Hamid (Church of England’s Diocese of Europe) are amongst a large number of Anglicans heading for Paris.

They share a belief that the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) is our last opportunity to set off on a new journey that has the future at its heart. Can the nations of the world make a legally binding treaty that will keep carbon emissions at a level which will halt catastrophic climate change? We stand at a fork in the road. “There are two different roads,” wrote St Basil the Great, in his commentary on Psalm 1, “one broad and easy, the other hard and narrow.”

Will we continue on our present journey of consumerism and squandering of the Earth’s resources, or will we take the path less travelled and commit to a simpler life-style, compassion for the vulnerable and hear the cry of the Earth? Can we turn our paths towards sustainable low carbon development? Can we move from greed to equity? This will take courage, sacrifice and faith.

A group of hardy Pilgrims was blessed by Bishop Nicholas Holtam in London as they set off on the 200 km (125 mile) walk through rain and sun toward Paris. They are walking in solidarity with communities affected by climate change. With each step and with each prayer, they are walking by faith, collectively calling on our world leaders to agree a fair, ambitious and binding climate change deal in Paris.

The Primates, bishops and pilgrims will be taking part in many activities in Paris. They were planning to take part in a mass People’s Climate March but due to security concerns this has been cancelled. The focus will very much be on prayer and unity and will culminate in an ecumenical service at Notre Dame Cathedral on Thursday 3rd December.

The baton has been passed to us as the global community to join this journey wherever we are. On the 29th of November you have the opportunity to walk with others in your own city.

Whether you are physically walking or praying from home, you are joining in with a global movement of people with the same heart and vision for a world free from poverty and climate change, as we believe God intended. Jesus calls us to set out on a journey that involves leaving behind old ways and become his agents for mending the world.

How can you get involved?

The climate change negotiations affect the future of the world. We are not “saving the planet” – the planet will survive. We are working for a sustainable future for the human race. We need a wave of prayer to go up around the world at this time.

There are a number of steps you can take:

A range of additional resources are available on the website of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN).

The Revd Dr Rachel Mash is the environmental coordinator for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

You can follow the progress of COP21 and the Anglican presence at the summit by reading the news updates by the Anglican Communion News Service.