[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans from across Australia and the world gathered in Melbourne this week to hear first-hand accounts of the impact climate change is having on local communities. Rose Elu from the Torres Strait Islands and Tagolyn Kabekabe from the Solomon Islands explained how communities are responding to their changing situation.
The Ash Wednesday Climate Change Forum also heard from Ncumisa Magadla, who described the work being undertaken by Green Anglicans, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s Environmental Network. These included a Carbon Fast for Lent and the expectation that confirmation candidates successfully nurture a seed during their 18-month preparation process.
There were also presentations on theology and the science of climate change from eco-theologian Mick Pope; and on Pope Francis’ highly acclaimed Laudato Si’ encyclical on Care for our Common Home by Professor Neil Ormerod from the Australia Catholic University.
The event was organized by the Anglican Board of Mission (ABM), Anglican Alliance, the Public Affairs Commission, and Anglican Overseas Aid. “Throughout the day participants discussed what they had heard, and shared what was happening in their various parts of the church,” an ABM spokesman said. “In the afternoon the forum addressed what the Anglican Church in Australia should do in response to the challenge of climate change.
“There was a consensus that it was a key priority for the church in our time.”
Among the suggested responses were the use of creative liturgy, planting gardens, the use of solar panels, theological teaching, partnerships between churches, divestment from fossil fuels, a clear connection between climate change and poverty in development work, prophetic advocacy and developing a new language to describe the vital place of the fifth Mark of Mission — to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth — into the broader theological story.
The Rev. Andy Bowerman, co-director of the Anglican Alliance, facilitated the forum and will take the results of the discussions to the Anglican Consultative Council when it meets in Zambia in April.
The Rt. Rev. Stephen Pickard, an assistant bishop of Canberra and Goulburn and the executive director of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, concluded the day by speaking about the“bonds of affection” which enable Anglicans to engage with climate justice globally.
Celia Kemp, the education officer for ABM, said after the event that “praying, listening and talking to people from vastly different circumstances who share a deep love for God’s creation and are acting to care for it brought hope into an area where there is often nothing but a sense of futility and despair.”
Wednesday’s Climate Change Forum was one of three significant events organised by ABM under the umbrella title of Anglican Gathering. On Tuesday there was a gathering of young Anglicans; while a conference looking at mission and evangelism – Life in Abundance – has been taking place from Wednesday.
- Click here for more information on the Climate Change Forum and the Anglican Gathering.