Photo Credit: Ryan L.C. Quan
Water Justice is the theme of this year's Season of Creation, or Creation Time, which many churches around the world have adopted from 1 September to the Feast of St Francis on 4 October. The Season is a time dedicated to prayer for the protection of Creation, and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles that reverse our contribution to climate change.
The Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN) has compiled a collection of liturgical resources from around the globe to help churches prepare and think about the issues involved. These include an order of service for Creation Time prepared by the Student Christian Movement India. It was first published by the Ecumenical Water Network, a group of churches and Christian organizations promoting people's access to water, initiated by the World Council of Churches.
Other resources in the collection include Preserving water, land and air: Prayers, and Liturgical Suggestions for Creation Time, which has been produced in English, German and French by the European Christian Environmental Network.
The collection also includes material produced by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa for Creation Time, around six themes: biodiversity, land, water, climate change, need not greed, and stewardship of creation; as well another compendium with material for climate change and eco-justice, food and environmental justice, water, sustainable energy and biodiversity.
In a newsletter accompanying the resources produced by ACEN, Michael Roy, the Asia Facilitator for the Anglican Alliance for Development, Relief and Advocacy, says that the impact of climate change is very prominent in Bangladesh, particularly along the coastal belt.
"The intensity of cyclones has increased and areas of flooding have expanded. The intrusion of saline water has increased, and this has badly impacted on the crop pattern and thereby the livelihoods of the farm-holdings of which majority are poor farmers," he said. "The Church of Bangladesh has taken a very comprehensive initiative to assist the sufferers in adapting to the changes through various efforts. The efforts include raising awareness of the community to save them from the climate changes; innovating and selecting technologies appropriate to adapt to the changes especially in agriculture; establishing field school to disseminate the knowledge to community people in a more organized manner; taking plantation programmes to mitigate deforestation, and advocacy and networking to seek support nationally and globally for combating the climate crisis more effectively."
In contrast, Morlu Korsor of St George Parish in Windhoek, Namibia, part of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, reports that a state of emergency has been declared by the President of Namibia because of a drought situation. "Namibia is… one of the most drought-prone countries in sub-Sahara Africa with two deserts, Namib and the Kalahari," he said. "Underground water reserves and recycled water are only used by commercial farmers… leaving the major subsistence farmers in Northern Namibia to depend on rain-fed farming.
"The past rainy season (October 2012 to April 2013) was too dry in Namibia. The drought left many cultivated pearl millet (locally known as mahangu), maize and sorghum fields dried, standing without yield due to drought caused by climate change; thus creating food insecurity, destitution and increased poverty for resource-poor farmers. Several thousands of livestock have already died."
The effects of climate change are not only affecting the developing world. One of the wealthiest regions of Canada suffered "disastrous flooding" in June 2013 as a result of heavy rainfall and Rocky Mountain run-off. Described by many as "the flood of the century" or "the worst in history", the metropolitan city of Calgary along with countless smaller communities including Canmore and High River witnessed the destruction of homes, businesses, community buildings and transport infrastructure.
In High River alone over 150 people were rescued from their rooftops. The downtown area of Calgary was shut down for most of a week. Four persons have died. Others are seriously injured. Over 100,000 people were displaced from their homes. Even at the time of writing some are still unable to return.
The Bishop of Calgary, the Rt Revd Gregory Kerr Wilson, wrote in a pastoral letter last month that "many of our members have been evacuated. Some have been able to return, others not, and many are returning to homes significantly damaged by the flooding."
The resources produced by ACEN are available online here
The Anglican Communion Environmental Network can be found on Facebook and they have a blog.