In 2015, following a year of online discussions, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN) invited 17 ‘Anglican Bishops for Climate Justice’ to gather near Cape Town to consider ‘how we might live out, with urgency and in hope, the Fifth Mark of Mission “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.”’ The bishops were from places that have already been affected by climate change, many in drought-stricken or coastal regions and cities vulnerable to rising seas.
This led to the publication of their official statement, The World Is Our Host, which was presented to ACC-16, with resolutions submitted by the ACEN.
Some quotes from The World is Our Host:
‘At this time of unprecedented climate crisis, we call all our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion to join us in prayer and in pastoral, priestly and prophetic action. We call with humility, but with urgent determination enlivened by our faith in God who is Creator and Redeemer and by the pain of our people’s experience in our dioceses and provinces, and their need for seeds of hope.’
‘We acknowledged that salvation in Christ calls us to responsibilities beyond ourselves. Especially in the developed world our view of salvation has often focused on our individual souls and journey to heaven. Our responsibility to care for God’s Creation has been overlooked or ignored. We have acted as if Christ only died to save the human race. The truth of the redemption of all things in Christ, which is the message of the life-giving cross, must be reclaimed (Colossians 1:20; John 3:16).
‘We discerned a call to revitalize our human vocation that refuses to leave some poor and others rich, and to rediscover our joy and awe in the wonders of God’s creation (Psalm 96: 11-12). We were challenged to go beyond advocacy for action by governments and big business interests, and undertake to practice the way of repentance and restraint, practicing justice between north and south, male and female, human and the more-than human creation within our own common life as a Church.’
Resolutions: As bishops in our provinces, dioceses, congregations and communities:
- We commit ourselves as brothers and sisters in Christ in humility, and acknowledging our differences of circumstance and polity, to support one another in conversation and in prayer, to continue to discern God’s leading, to develop eco-theological resources and form strategic proposals for global and local action.
- We undertake to fast for climate justice on the first day of every month in solidarity with the earth and in acknowledgement that our own common life as a Church has contributed to the current climate crisis. Our fast will continue for as long as we prayerfully discern that we stand in need of repentance as a Church.
- We will work to strengthen our ecumenical and inter-faith partnerships globally and in our own jurisdictions standing in solidarity with all people of goodwill in response to the climate crisis.
- We will develop and distribute educational resources for everyone (adults, youth and children) on climate change, climate justice, and the ethical and practical principles of sustainable living in global and local contexts.
- We will develop and distribute liturgical materials on Care for Creation for use in parishes and other places of worship.
- We call for a review of our churches’ investment practices with a view to supporting environmental sustainability and justice by divesting from industries involved primarily in the extraction or distribution of fossil fuels.
- We call for the strengthening of ethical investment guidelines to include consideration of justice for the non-human creation as well as the interests of future gene generations of humanity.
- We call for programmes of theological formation for ordinands, and in-service formation for ordained clergy, to include in-depth components of eco-justice and ecotheology.
- We call for Anglican educational institutions to integrate issues of environmental sustainability and ethics into their curricula and community life and by teaching a theological approach to climate justice
During the season of Creation 2018 African Eco-Bishops, women leaders and youth gathered under the auspices of the ACEN to discuss the impacts of climate change on their region, guided by the theme Adaptation, Mitigation, and the Witness of the Church in an Era of Climate Change. In their final communiqué, ‘An urgent cry for Ecological Justice: Reclaiming the Gospel Imperative for All Creation’, they called for ecological justice to be at the top of the Lambeth 2020 agenda: “Our urgent cry is to the Anglican Communion: our Dioceses, Provinces, the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA), and Lambeth 2020, that Good News for creation and ecological justice be placed at the top of the agenda. All of us are invested in this and all are part of the problem, whether in the north, south, east or west. Our Communion provides opportunity for global witness and resources to tackle this global challenge together.”