Inauguration of the Communion Forest in Central America

2 July 2024

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby planting a tree at the end of the Eucharist service to launch and bless the Anglican Communion Forest at Iglesia Divine Providencia in El Maizal, El Salvador. Photo: Neil Turner for Lambeth Palace.

We have exciting news to share about the Communion Forest!

On World Environment Day, June 5th, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and Archbishop Juan David Alvarado, Bishop of El Salvador and Primate of the Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America, together blessed the launch of the Communion Forest in Central America.

The event took place on day two of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s visit to El Salvador. Archbishop Justin preached and presided at a Eucharist in El Maizal, an area of church land, and then planted the first tree in the Communion Forest in Central America.

This significant event marks a pivotal moment for Communion Forest. We are inspired by this precious contribution of the Church in El Salvador to the global movement, living out the Fifth Mark of Mission to protect, conserve and restore God’s creation.

Speaking ahead of the event, Paulo Ueti, the Anglican Alliance’s Theological Advisor & Latin American Regional Director, who accompanied the Archbishop of Canterbury and his entourage, said, “This momentous event will mark a priority for the Diocese of El Salvador to foster the Communion Forest in the region. The special blessing will take place in an area dedicated to protecting nature, planting trees, hosting workshops, and training leadership for environmental justice actions, contributing to a better environment in the region.

“May this initiative set an inspiring example for the rest of Central America!”

Archbishop Justin said, “I wouldn’t normally recommend gardening in tropical temperatures while wearing about five layers of clerical robes, but planting this particular tree in El Maizal, El Salvador, was worth the heat and the discomfort.

“Physically feeling the soil in our hands and the sweat on our backs brought home that this was a day about practical action. The simple act of planting trees does so much – it connects us to God’s creation; it acknowledges the severe impact of climate change in this region – often affecting most severely the communities with the fewest resources; and it makes a statement of hope for our future.”

Blessing the forest and hailing this important environmental project, Archbishop Justin echoed the original commitment and promise behind the initiative: To plant is to hope, To restore is to heal, To protect is to love.

The Communion Forest initiative is facilitated by the Anglican Alliance with the Anglican Communion Environment Network (GREEN Anglicans).Discover more about the Communion Forest here

Read more about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s visit to El Salvador here.