At Lambeth Palace, bishops and their wives celebrate the launch of the Anglican Communion’s forestry initiative – Episcopal News Service

Bishops attending the Lambeth Conference bless a tree as part of the newly launched Communion Forest initiative, as part of the Bishops’ focus on the environment and climate change during a trip on August 3 in London and Lambeth Palace. Among the bishops depicted are California Bishop Marc Andrus, in a hat, and Central American Archbishop Julio Murray, to the right of the tree. Photo: Lambeth Conference.

[Episcopal News Service – London, England] With the launch of the Anglican Communion Forest, Anglican and Episcopal bishops around the world seek to make tangible their shared commitment to Fifth Mission Markto strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and to sustain and renew life on Earth.

Climate change “is an absolutely huge emergency for literally billions of the world’s population,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said at a press conference Aug. 3 at Lambeth Palace Library.

“If we stand united, we can, as the global Anglican Communion, make a transformative difference in the world,” Welby said. “There is a real sense of unity about this, and today is a sign of great hope for the poorest who make up the vast majority of Anglicans around the world.”

It was the eighth day of the Lambeth Conference, and the bishops and their wives traveled by bus to spend the day in the garden of Lambeth Palace, where the discussion focused on the environment and sustainable development. On site, the first tree of the forest was planted in the garden marking the launch of the global forest initiative focused on the efforts of provinces, dioceses and individual churches in protecting forests, growing trees and restoring ecosystems.

“I believe that planting a tree is a symbol of hope, protecting an ecosystem is a symbol of love and restoring habitat is bringing healing to our planet,” said Bishop of the Diocese of Norwich, Graham Usher, of the Church of England. senior bishop for the environment, during the press conference.

Although there is no funding mechanism for the initiative, organizers hope it will become the legacy of the 15e Lambeth conference and launch is designed to encourage people to join the effort.

California Bishop Marc Andrus, a longtime leader on environmental issues within the Episcopal Church, called the forestry initiative a “nature-based solution.”

“Instead of pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the greenhouse gases we know are warming the planet and causing not only warming but also a ‘strange’ climate, all the erratic storms and more and more violent and other types of events – instead of this effect, we pull it in. We pull greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere,” Andrus told Episcopal News Service in a video interview in the palace garden. .

The Lambeth Conference is a typical once-a-decade gathering of Anglican bishops from around the world; it has been underway since July 26 in south-east London in Canterbury. More than 650 bishops from more than 165 countries are gathered at Welby’s invitation, engaging in Bible study, plenary and closed sessions to discuss global issues including mission, evangelism, politics of ‘safe church’, reconciliation, human dignity and sexuality. The conversations are meant to guide the communion in the decade to come.

(Full ENS coverage of the Lambeth Conference is here.)

Gathered at Lambeth Palace, the Bishops discussed Lambeth’s call on the environment and sustainable development.

During the press conference, Archbishop Julio Murray, Primate of the Anglican Church of Central America and Bishop of the Diocese of Panama, stressed the importance of holding world leaders to their commitments to fund adaptation programs and climate change mitigation in less developed countries, which is commonly referred to as “loss and damage”, set out in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

“The richer countries signed up, but when we were at COP 26 we found they weren’t sticking to what they signed up for,” said Murray, who led the Anglican delegation to the conference on climate change. 2021 UN Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. And, he said, even when funds were available, countries faced real bureaucratic hurdles to access them. Advocating for easier and better access at the national government level, he suggested, is one way faith leaders can have a positive impact.

Elizabeth Wathuti, a young Kenyan climate activist, echoed Murray’s remarks, stressing that what we need now is courageous leadership.

“I would add that people are listening to their religious leaders,” she said at the press conference. “In the part of the world where I come from, religious leaders share and sit at the table of the people who make the decisions in the different sectors of the countries. It is really important to be able to understand the important role that leaders can play in helping us to take real action. »

It is these same leaders, she said, who lead ordinary citizens to understand what is at stake, people’s lives and their livelihoods. “Also understand that climate issues are so interdependent with other issues with the food we eat, the air we breathe, health and everything around us… If we don’t really act on the climate right now it’s going to mean the world is going to be uninhabitable,” Wathuti said.

After the press conference, in a conversation with ENS, Murray pointed out that churches, especially those on the frontlines, often find themselves providing relief.

“The church is calling on members to help us respond to the relief that is so badly needed around the world,” Murray said, also adding that “the church is also saying to the government, listen, we’re doing this out of relief, because we know the impact it has on people’s lives, but you have to do it because you sign a protocol, you have to commit and you have to respond.

In her message to the Lambeth Conference, Queen Elizabeth II acknowledged that “the effects of climate change threaten the lives and livelihoods of many people and communities, especially the poorest and least able to adapt and adjust”. The conference, she said, comes “at a time of great need for God’s love.”

Bishop Marinez Bassotto leads the Episcopal-Anglican Church of the Brazilian Diocese of the Amazon, which covers five of Brazil’s remote northern states where heat, deforestation, mudslides, fires and other related disasters to the climate are forcing people to flee the region and seek work in the cities, which in turn is driving up poverty rates there, she told ENS.

It has become increasingly clear that it is not just developing countries that face the immediate impacts of climate change, and the Episcopal churches in the United States and Europe, where the church has a presence in seven countries, make efforts to minimize their carbon footprint and educate people about creation care, clean energy and climate impact mitigation strategies.

The Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, for example, has a ministerial initiative on climate and the care of creation, which emphasizes environmental stewardship as a Christian value, ENS told ENS l ‘Bishop Mark Edington, who leads the convocation, in the Palace Garden.

In the Charleston-based Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, where rising sea levels are an immediate threat, the diocese has just begun a creative care initiative that will include education around the “habits and practices we we have that simply, both individually and collectively, we need to change our use of fossil fuels and our use of plastics,” Bishop Ruth Woodliff-Stanley told ENS.

In Colorado, where an outdoor lifestyle is part of the culture, and where water shortages and wildfires are on the rise, environmental stewardship is a priority.

“All of our churches, each in their own way, are working on how they care for creation and how they can help reduce their carbon footprint,” Bishop Kym Lucas, who leads the Episcopal Church of Colorado. “And it’s really important for us to talk about this in terms of our stewardship and not in terms of politics or policies, but our obligation as baptized Christians to take care of this gift that has been given to us.”

A sensitive “dichotomy” also exists in northern Wyoming, where Bishop Paul-Gordon Chandler leads the Episcopal Church of Wyoming.

“We have this beautiful and magnificent terrain and fauna that we are known for, but we are also one of the energy states, coal in particular,” he told ENS in the palace garden. And so what we’re doing is trying to find a moderating voice, and letting the church be the center of it all.

One way Wyoming Episcopalians approach this approach is what Chandler calls “sacred harmony, being in harmony with the Earth and all that was created and lives on the Earth.”

And, he said, they are increasingly reaching out to their “Native American sisters and brothers, where it is an intrinsic part of their spirituality, and gives them a voice, not only in our local context, but shares that voice.” at national scale”.

-Lynette Wilson is the editor of Episcopal News Service. She can be reached at lwilson@episcopalchurch.org.

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