WCC member churches pursue climate justice

Anglican and Reformed groups take significant new actions on climate justice

April 2, 2015

From left to right: Rev. Thomas Oommen, bishop of Madhya Kerala and deputy moderator of the Church of South India, and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

From left to right: Rev. Thomas Oommen, bishop of Madhya Kerala and deputy moderator of the Church of South India, and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. —The Church of England - Diocese of Salisbury

GENEVA

A group of 17 Anglican bishops from all six continents have called for urgent prayer and action on the “unprecedented climate crisis.”

In Scotland, the United Reformed Church’s Synod has made the decision to divest from fossil fuels and agreed that no further investment in fossil fuels shall take place. The Anglican declaration The World Is Our Host: A Call to Urgent Action for Climate Justice sets a new agenda on climate change for the 85 million-strong Anglican communion.

The declaration commits the bishops to specific initial actions, including energy conservation measures in church buildings; more renewable energy; nurturing biodiversity on church land; supporting sustainability in water, food, agriculture and land use; reviewing churches’ investment practices, including the call for divestment; and closer ecumenical and interfaith co-operation.

The group, formed by bishops from countries that are major contributors to climate change as well as those producing low levels of carbon but disproportionately affected, met in South Africa in February to build on months of online conversations.

The Archbishop of Cape Town and Primate of Southern Africa, the Rev. Dr Thabo Makgoba, who brought the group together, said, “We accept the evidence of science: Human activity, especially in fossil-fuel-based economies, is the main cause of the climate crisis. The problem is spiritual as well as economic, scientific and political. We have been complicit in a theology of domination. While God committed the care of creation to us, we have been care-less – but not hopeless.”

The bishops commended the Fast for the Climate initiative, joining many others in fasting and praying for the climate on the first of every month.

Women make up majority of the world’s poorest and are hit harder by climate change. The Rev. Ellinah Wamukoya, bishop of Swaziland and Africa’s first woman bishop, said that “Women are more often dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods, so the contribution of women is essential in decisions around climate change. Our communities must be equal, as in the Eucharist.”

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rev. Nicholas Holtam, has welcomed the call to tackle what the bishops call an “unprecedented climate crisis.” A member of the delegation, he noted that issuing the declaration during Holy Week and addressing the churches on Good Friday “is a mark of the seriousness with which we view the crisis of climate change.”

The resolution on divestment was passed at the Synod Meeting, which took place 20 to 22 March, at the Scottish Police College, in Tulliallan, Fife. The URC Synod of Scotland will now examine its financial arrangements and ensure that its investments do not endanger creation.

Rev. John Humphreys, moderator of the URC’s Synod of Scotland, said that the Synod has shown a clear commitment to ethical investment through “an affirmative action against climate change.”

Humphreys also spoke about the role of churches in the debate on climate change. “We hope and pray that other churches will feel able to respond ethically to the growing threat of catastrophic climate change,” he said.

The World Is Our Host: A Call to Urgent Action for Climate Justice

WCC’s work on climate justice and care for creation

  1. If the Bishop of Swaziland and the Bishop of Scotland ,the home of the Presbyterian Church, are taking a strong stand if favor of protecting our environment, why can't our PCUSA ? GOD has asked us to do as much.

    by Virginia R. Elting

    April 11, 2015

  2. In my many years as a pastor, I have never had prospective new members ask me what our church was going to do about climate change. I have never had a member leave us for another church because we failed to address climate change or the makeup of our endowment fund portfolio. LL

    by Louis S. Lunardini

    April 3, 2015

  3. To truly follow their convictions, the URC synod in Scotland should NOT accept any tithes or offerings from members employed in the fossil fuel industry. Or, are they just hypocrites?

    by John H Poulin

    April 3, 2015