Anglican bishops and others have been participating in a series of “bishop’s conversations” in preparation for next year’s Lambeth Conference, where bishops from around the world meet every 10 or 14 years or so. The theme for November is “Called to be Stewards,” focused on climate change and caring for God’s creation. The discussions took place November 2 and 4, while the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference was meeting in Glasgow, Scotland. The conversations are private, but each month some of the participants share their thoughts about the topic on the Lambeth Conference website.
“I’ve never experienced things in my life that I’ve experienced just in these last few years, when it comes to cyclones – category five! For the first time in my life, I had a flood all around my home. In many places people were losing everything, villages were flooding for the first time.
“One of our coastal families where they have the old homestead is now underwater, they are moving further inland. I’ve visited other places where the villagers had to be resettled from seaside to interior. And that is happening right now. We were able to predict weather in the past, now we don’t know when it’s going to rain or when it’s going to be dry. … The real concern, if this carries on, is about the next generation, our children, our grandchildren.”
– Henry Bull Bishop of Vanua Levu and Taveuni, Fiji
“The percentage of territory that was ravaged during this period increased by more than 200 per cent, reaching a record of 810 square kilometers of deforestation in the Amazon in the last few months. Also fires have increased dramatically. … For us here in the Amazon region, the territories are like extensions of native peoples’ bodies. They are part of their sacredness. So, when creation is degraded, for our peoples, their bodies are also degraded. It’s a suffering with serious consequences for people’s spirituality, with serious consequences for life as a whole, and it harms and violates the integrity of God’s creation.
“I don’t raise my voice against climate injustices, against socio-environmental injustices, because it’s part of my ideology. … I do these things because of the Gospel … I fight for climate justice because I’m Christ’s disciple. I think discipleship is the foundation for all of our actions in society.”
“I believe that creation care is an integral part of being a Christian, because we are called by God to tread gently on this earth to steward and care for creation. In our Christian lives, we need to mirror something of that, taking time to pause, to have Sabbath rest, to see all around us these amazing resources, to care for them, to attend to them, to protect them; not just for ourselves, not just for future generations, but for the integrity of the whole of God’s creation.
“When you look at some of the major conflicts around the world, the environmental factors are somewhere in the roots of most of them. When you look at migration around the world, and refugees, environmental factors are often at the heart of them.
“Whatever you do, please find ways to tread more gently on this single Island planet home of ours and be inspired by the joy of creation. Discover that childlike wonder again of holding something in the palm of your hand and seeing the wonder of God in it all.”
“Because of our connection with the land, with the sea, with the rivers and the plains and the lakes and forests, indigenous peoples are affected directly by climate change, because we live largely on those traditional grounds. And for that reason, particularly in the Arctic and the Pacific, where the rising sea levels are occurring, we are finding many are being displaced from their homelands. This means they are displaced from their traditional values and practices and have become virtually refugees. If we lose our connection with the land for which we are related, then that becomes more than an issue of climate injustice, but also really about our existence as indigenous peoples.
“We need to remember that I’m not the only person on earth, and all of that is not just for me. I have a responsibility to my neighbor, the next community or the next tribe along this river, this ocean. Then that way, we are living justly, we are living responsibly, and we are living humbly… those were the keys which our ancestors lived by. And so going back to those practices and values is what is going to provide for the future.”