APIA. Samoa

To raise awareness of the impact of climate change, representatives of churches, ecumenical organizations and the United Nations stood together in the sea in Apia, Samoa, in prayerful solidarity with those vulnerable to rising sea-levels and extreme weather events.

The prayer service was conducted Sept. 4 as part of the OurVoices.net international campaign of people from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds who are urging world leaders to agree to a strong climate treaty at the UN climate talks in Paris in December 2015.

Participants in the prayer included representatives of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Samoa Council of Churches (SCC), the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) and the U.N.

Many of those praying were in Samoa taking part in the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Summit held the same week, focusing on a group of countries that remain special cases for sustainable development in view of their unique and particular vulnerabilities.

The prayer in Apia was convened by WCC staff member Geronimo Desumala, while the Rev. Ma'auga Motu, general secretary of the SCC led the prayer with traditional Samoan song and reflections.

Peter Emberson of the PCC offered a germinating coconut as a “symbol of hope and resilience in life” to Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. Figueres, along with the former ambassador to the U.N. Dessima Williams, threw the coconut into the ocean, where it would inevitably find its way back to shore, grow, and show its resilience.

Williams commented that such global actions of solidarity are a reminder that “people around the world care deeply about those impacted by climate change.” She invited others to offer Solidarity Sea Prayers and to send their pictures to info@ourvoices.net for sharing with world leaders.

OurVoices.net is a multi-faith project which aims to build a multi-faith movement calling for action on climate change. This campaign focuses on the power of prayer and meditation as an essential contribution to change, giving support to negotiators’ having the courage, generosity and imagination to reach a meaningful deal.

Others participating in the sea prayer in Apia included Peter Emberson, program animator for climate change and resettlement of the PCC; Daniele Violetti, chief of staff, U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change; Andrew Higham, U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change; Ian Fry, chief climate change negotiator for Tuvalu; and Julia Bethan Edwards, researcher on climate-induced relocation, PCC; along with others.