Reformed churches issue eco-justice 'cry for life' in the Caribbean

By agency reporter
20 Jan 2010

A new publication on economic and ecological justice by church-based economists and justice advocates in the Caribbean region is a call to action for churches worldwide, says the Guyanese editor of the book.

“The cry for life resounds throughout scripture,” says Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth. “The Bible is a record of God speaking through prophets and calling the faithful to challenge injustice in the world around them.”

Sheerattan-Bisnauth, who heads social justice programming for the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), made her comments in announcing the publication this week of an educational resource guide called ‘Power to Resist and Courage to Hope: Caribbean Churches Living out the Accra Confession’.

“The intent is to help Christians better understand what is happening and how God is speaking to them,” says Sheerattan-Bisnauth. “The idea is to move from reaction to action with a vision for a new global human order which honours creation and the dignity of all people. “

Designed for use in seminaries and local parishes, the guide includes analysis of the global economic and ecological crisis, bible studies, sermon notes, liturgical resources and a children’s story, as well as examples of how churches have played a role in challenging injustice in the Caribbean region.

The publication is the latest in a series of resources produced as part of WARC’s Covenanting for Justice Programme which encourages congregations to respond to the impact of the global economic system in light of their faith.

WARC member churches are currently engaged in study and debate of a statement on the relationship between faith and the economy which was adopted at the organisation’s global assembly in Accra, Ghana in 2004.

The statement, known as the Accra Confession, will feature in discussions at the Uniting General Council (UGC) to be held in June in Grand Rapids, United States.

Delegates to the UGC will be asked to endorse the merger of WARC with the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC) to form the World Communion of Reformed Churches. The new organization is expected to focus on justice issues and church unity.

Pastors, theologians and lay persons from the Caymen Islands, Cuba, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago contributed to the study guide which also includes a chapter from the Tanzanian-born economist, Rogate Mshana, of the World Council of Churches.

The Caribbean and North America Area Council convenor, Neal Presa, believes that the guide will equip congregations and communities in North America to challenge the impact of the global economic system on the Caribbean.

“For us in the industrialised North, this book is a needed call to pay attention to how many of the policies and principles by which we live have adverse consequences on the Caribbean and indeed, the whole world,” says Presa.

“We need to acknowledge our own complicity and that we have been co-opted by the dominant economic model,” Sheerattan-Bisnauth notes. “This guide encourages the Christian community to be partners with other faith groups and social movements in demanding change; at the same time as being an example of that change. Christians are called on to promote responsible lifestyles based on an ethics of care, compassion and solidarity and a deep sense of our interconnectedness.”

She adds: “The study guide asks us to consider ­as a central calling of our mission ­how churches can intentionally promote a sense of responsibility for creation through our Bible study, sermons, reflections, liturgy and church school programmes.”

The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) brings together 75 million Reformed Christians in 214 churches in 107 countries. The WARC General Secretary is the Rev Dr Setri Nyomi of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana.

Power to Resist and Courage to Hope: Caribbean Churches Living out the Accra Confession is available in PDF format at www.warc.ch (page: Covenanting for Justice)

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