Anglicans in Melanesia on the frontlines of climate change

9 September 2016

Anglicans in Melanesia are helping to relocate entire villages after rising sea levels caused by climate change have left their settlements uninhabitable.

Workshops were held in March this year, run by the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) and the Pacific Council of Churches (PCC), to support those impacted by the changing climate and help them adjust to changes in their livelihoods. Many villagers were concerned about the impact of sea level rise on their crops as salt water made it impossible to grow staple foods. The workshops aim to build the capacity of villagers to adapt to the changing climate, and support them in relocating to new islands when they need to.

Climate change has repeatedly been highlighted as a priority area for the work of the church in the Pacific. Tagolyn Kabekabe, Anglican Alliance facilitator for the Pacific, works closely with ACOM to support the work of the church. She said, “Just as the unpredictable currents run through the islands of the Pacific Ocean daily, so the impacts of coastal erosion continually reduce the size of our islands, affecting our very existence. My vision is for vibrant, resilient and prayerful communities to have the capacity to respond to climate change impacts.”

The Melanesian Mission, an Anglican mission agency that supports ACOM, is asking Anglicans worldwide to keep the region in their prayers and use the Season of Creation, which runs from 1 September – 4 October, to reflect on the impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable.

A number of short films about the region were made by the charity earlier this year. They are now available to watch on YouTube, and can be used to prompt reflection and help you to pray for communities living with the daily impacts of climate change.

Andy Bowerman, Co-Executive Director at the Anglican Alliance, said, “During this Season of Creation we continue to give thanks for last year’s Paris Agreement on the climate, which more than 200 countries signed up to. We cling onto the promise that God will bring about justice for his people and we rejoice as nations follow through on their pledges. But we must continue to pray that all will play their part and that all of us who claim the name of Jesus examine how our own lifestyles need to change in order for the planet and its people to flourish.”

In the photo: In March 2015 Cyclone Pam hit the island of Vanuatu destroying homes and livlihoods.  Act for Peace, working with the Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC), delivered essential garden kits to help communities recover.
Photo credit: Julia Loersch/Act for Peace