Members of the Anglican Church of South America met on May 25-27 to discuss “rapidly mounting issues of global climate change and environmental destruction.”
The Most Rev. Gregory Venables, Bishop of Argentina and Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Church of South America, convened the meeting with the support of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN).
“The Church, for the most part, has been in denial about climate change,” he said. “And unless we respond quickly we face not just the tragic outcome, but God’s judgment, since Scripture makes our responsibility clear. We have among us key gifted people to help us, and we pray that this will provide a much-needed point of unity.”
ACEN member Andrew Leake of the Diocese of Northern Argentina organized and led the meeting in Lima. Bishops and delegates heard from Santiago Reyna, professor of environmental engineering at the National University of Córdoba in Argentina, and the Rev. Canon Jeff Golliher, director for the environment and sustainable communities at the Anglican Communion’s Office at the United Nations in New York.
Delegates heard reports about the effects of climate change from each diocese in the province and engaged in lively discussions about how to respond, said the Rt. Rev. Nicholas Drayson, Bishop of Northern Argentina, one of several bishops active in ACEN.
“The effects of climate change are plain for all to see, so it is good both to understand the causes, and to consider the church’s response to probable tragedies that will result from it,” he said. “It is also imperative that the Church acts and speaks from a clear biblical position on the care of Creation and our place within it.”
Canon Golliher welcomed the enthusiasm and commitment he saw at the meeting.
“They were coming together as the Church — as brothers and sisters in Christ, women and men, indigenous peoples, lay and ordained, including the top leaders of the province — sharing their thoughts respectfully and honestly, searching for effective ways to fulfill the mission of the church,” he said. “They gathered in the spirit of Jesus’ teaching about friendship: ‘you are my friends if you do what I command you.’”
Golliher stressed the importance of people working together to tackle climate change across the Anglican Communion. “People want to organize and act,” he said. “That’s not something that can be done alone, individually. We need each other in order to do what needs to be done.”
In his message at the meeting, Golliher suggested action centered on five themes:
- the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals
- liturgy and worship, including the Season of Creation and Lenten fasts
- the pivotal role of women
- humanitarian and disaster relief, including support for climate refugees
- regional and provincial capacity-building
Adapted from ACNS.