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"Social and environmental justice are intimately, profoundly linked"

Posted on: August 28, 2014 4:44 PM
Kenyan environmental and political campaigner Wangari Muta Maathai by Bob Mash
Photo Credit: Bob Mash
Related Categories: acen, environment, Global, Southern Africa

From the Anglican Communion Environmental Network

“Sleeper awake!” is the opening call of a new Anglican resource for the Season of Creation, the third in a series published by the Anglican Church in Southern Africa.

The resource has sermon notes and liturgical materials covering the themes of climate change, eco-justice, water, creation and redemption and biodiversity.

It is dedicated to the memory of Professor Wangari Muta Maathai who in 1971 founded the Kenyan Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and the empowerment of communities.

“This third volume of resources helps us to see that care for Creation is rooted in social justice”, said the Revd Dr Rachel Mash, Environmental Co-ordinator Anglican Church of Southern Africa. “As we worship the Creator God in the beauty of a waterfall, we also raise our voices to protest with those who have no access to clean water and sanitation."

Dr Mash reflected on the relevance and purpose of the Season of Creation. “There is a danger that care for creation and environmental concern are seen as a luxury for middle class Christians in leafy suburbs. So-called ‘Greenies’ or ‘tree huggers’ are perceived to be more concerned about the plight of the rhino than the plight of the vulnerable child. The connections between social and environmental justice are more intimately and profoundly linked. Ecological justice is relevant to everyone’s life, to everyone’s faith.”

Canon Ken Gray, Secretary of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, explained the growing significance of a focus on Creation in the church calendar. “While the seasons of the church year follow the life of Jesus through Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent and Easter, the remainder of the church year encompasses Pentecost Season, which celebrates life in the Holy Spirit. Within Pentecost many Christians now celebrate a ‘Season of Creation’.

“During its meeting in Auckland in 2012, the Anglican Consultative Council requested that all Anglican Provinces consider the inclusion of a season of Creation in the liturgical calendar as an expression of environmental concern. The World Council of Churches has for some time proposed that 1 September through to 4 October become ‘Time for Creation’. In 1989 the late Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Dimitrios I proclaimed 1 September as a day of prayer for the environment. On 4 October, Roman Catholics and other Christians celebrate the witness of St Francis.

“The Anglican Communion Environmental Network has released an online compilation of rites and resources demonstrating the huge and increasing interest in a Season of Creation.”

Canon Gray noted that in many Anglican Provinces, permission to use alternative rites, especially during primary Sunday services is required from the local bishop. “That said, where flexibility is permitted, even encouraged, many new rites contain resources of music, prayer, homilies, contextual introduction, audio-video presentations and Eucharistic rites for local use.”

Throughout this year’s Season of Creation, the Anglican Communion Environmental Network will post events, resources, stories and articles, including a feature on St Francis and Mahatma Gandhi and reports from the People’s Climate March in New York City on 21 September and links to a webcast of the ‘Religions for the Earth Multifaith Service’ at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in the evening.

The Network supports and promotes the Anglican Alliance ‘Oceans of Justice Campaign’ and the international, inter faith project ‘’.