Climate change is creating an awareness that people everywhere are part of one humanity, and is bringing churches together to combat the threat, says the head of the World Council of Churches.
“We cannot say that life on the planet is only for some of us. It is a matter for all of us: when this planet is threatened, it is threatening for all of us,” WCC general secretary the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit writes in an article in the latest issue of The Ecumenical Review.
“In a very disturbing way, the climate crisis brings us together as one humanity. Therefore, it also brings us together as one fellowship of believers, as one church,” writes Tveit, a Norwegian Lutheran who took up his post at the WCC in January.
“We are called together to show signs of what it means to be one humanity,” says Tveit in his article for the quarterly periodical of the Geneva-based WCC.
The latest issue, published under the title, “Churches Caring for Creation and Climate Justice,” comes after the United Nations talks on climate change in Copenhagen in December, guest editors Guillermo Kerber and the Rev. Martin Robra note in their introduction.
“In the ecumenical movement’s approach to environmental justice, a consistent effort has been made to go beyond the superficial ‘fashion’ of mere lip service to climate change, and to address instead some of the deep implications it has for Christian theology and life,” they write.
Authors include biblical scholar the Rev. Barbara Rossing of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago; the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s special advisor on environmental issues, the Rev. John Chryssavgis; and South African theologian the Rev. Steve de Gruchy, to whose memory the issue is dedicated following his death in an accident earlier in 2010.
“Each of the authors in this issue has a different approach; the challenge is to bring this together in a responsible and effective theology of caring for creation,” says Kerber, the WCC program executive on climate change, in comments on the WCC Web site.
The publication of the climate change issue of The Ecumenical Review also comes in advance of a WCC-supported event called “Time for Creation,” which seeks to mobilize church environmental awareness from Sept. 1 — the first day of the Orthodox church year — to Oct. 4, the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi in the Roman Catholic tradition.
Robra, director of the WCC program on “ecumenism in the 21st century,” notes that the WCC helped place the term “sustainable society” into the public domain three decades ago.
Says Robra: “Churches are well-equipped to point to long-term needs of the planet. Politics often gets stuck in short-term issues.”