The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has joined leaders of other Christian churches in a joint letter encouraging participation in the Season of Creation.
The annual celebration of prayer and action to protect the environment emerged from a proclamation by the Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I in 1989. He called on Orthodox Christians to observe Sept. 1 each year as a day of prayer for creation. Many churches across the world from different traditions began celebrating a Season of Creation between that date and Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
In 2009, the Anglican Consultative Council called on provinces to “celebrate a liturgical ‘Season of Creation’ as an integral part of the church’s yearly pattern of worship and teaching.” It repeated the call in 2012, when it asked provinces to “consider the inclusion of a season of Creation in the liturgical calendar.”
In 2014 Pope Francis designated Sept. 1 as an annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. In 2015 he called on Roman Catholics to join “together with all Christians” in the Season of Creation.
Now, nine Church leaders have signed a letter encouraging Christians around the world from all traditions to mark the season of prayer. The letter follows.
Letter in support of the Season of Creation
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?” (Job 12:7-9, NRSV)
Once every year, from 1 September to 4 October, members of the Christian family set aside time to deepen our relationship with the Creator, each other, and all of creation. This is the Season of Creation, which began in 1989 with the first recognition of the day of prayer for creation by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church, and which is now embraced by the wider ecumenical family.
During the Season of Creation, we join together to rejoice in the good gift of creation and reflect on how we care for it. This season offers a precious opportunity to pause in the midst of our day-to-day lives and contemplate the fabric of life into which we are woven.
As the environmental crisis deepens, we Christians are urgently called to witness to our faith by taking bold action to preserve the gift we share. As the psalmist sings, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1-2). During the Season of Creation, we ask ourselves: Do our actions honour the Lord as Creator? Are there ways to deepen our faith by protecting “the least of these,” who are most vulnerable to the consequences of environmental degradation?
We invite you to join us on a journey of faith that challenges and rewards us with fresh perspective and deeper bonds of love. United in our sincere wish to protect creation and all those who share it, we join hands across denominations as sisters and brothers in Christ. During this season, we walk together towards greater stewardship of our place in creation.
“O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent” (Psalm 104:1-2).
With you, we give thanks for the community of believers around the world that is bringing love to creation this season, and we praise the Creator for the gifts we share.
In God’s grace,
Archbishop Job of Telmessos
Permanent Representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the WCC
on behalf of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury
Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson
Prefect, Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development
The Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit
General Secretary of World Council of Churches
The Rev. Chris Ferguson
General Secretary, World Communion of Reformed Churches
Bishop Efraim Tendero
Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance
The Rev. Martin Junge
General Secretary, Lutheran World Federation
Rudelmar Bueno de Faria
General Secretary, Act Alliance
Father Heikki Huttunen
General Secretary, Conference of European Churches
Adapted from ACNS