At a time when the impact of climate change remains a major global concern, churches around the world are calling for a renewed commitment towards the environment and ecosystems.
During September and October 2011, churches and organisations from Germany to Australia, India to South Africa, the Pacific to North America, are observing the “Time for Creation”, a month-long celebration of creation and demonstration of concern for climate justice.
From 1 September to 4 October the World Council of Churches (WCC) is calling upon Christians and organisations to observe this time to renew their commitment towards the environment and eco-systems.
A “Time for Creation” is part of climate justice initiatives by the WCC, through which the churches and faith networks are stressing the ethical and spiritual aspect in debate on environmental issues. To transform this perspective into action, the WCC has been an advocate at all Conference of Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The next meeting is in December in Durban, South Africa.
Both starting and end dates of “Time for Creation” are based on the concerns of creation in the Western and Eastern traditions of Christianity. To signify responsibility for nature, the late Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios declared 1 September a day of prayer for the environment in 1989.
Also the Orthodox church year starts on 1 September, commemorating how God created the world, while 4 October is commemorated by Roman Catholics and other churches as the feast of Francis of Assisi, known as the patron saint of the environment.
Oeku, an ecumenical organisation working for environmental issues in Switzerland, recently launched “Time of Creation” as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations. Oeku has been celebrating this initiative since 1993, focusing this time on the International Year of Forests. Protestant, Orthodox, Old Catholic and Roman Catholic parishes in Switzerland joined different programmes held by Oeku.
The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) also started a campaign “Remembering the Creator and Creation”. NCCI member churches are now organising special prayers, homilies, vigils and activities addressing environmental concerns.
Since the United Nations has announced 2011 as the International Year of Forests, in its campaign NCCI emphasises the “central role of people in the conservation, sustainable management and development of our world’s forests”.
A nationwide celebration of “Time for Creation” was also initiated by several churches in Germany. This included liturgical celebrations, sermons and lectures by public figures and events like “Listening to the silence”, comprised of visits to the nature parks.
“God has given humankind responsibility for Creation until the time when God will fulfil his creation of a new heaven and a new earth”, WCC Central Committee member Fernando Enns said in his sermon during recent “Time for Creation” celebrations in Berlin. Offerings at the ecumenical prayer service in Berlin went towards the training programme “Youth for Eco-Justice”.
Leading up to the UN climate negotiations (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa, in collaboration with the Lutheran World Federation, the WCC is bringing young Christians together for this training programme in the latter part of 2011. Other advocacy initiatives with churches, ecumenical and faith organisations hope to make a strong presence at COP 17.
By celebrating “Time for Creation” the WCC programme executive on climate change, Dr Guillermo Kerber, hopes for a better contribution towards eco-justice. “WCC’s policy on climate change reflects the ecumenical understanding by stating ecological, economic, cultural, and political dimensions of the climate change crisis, calling for a holistic approach and stressing ethical and biblical perspectives, that climate change is a matter of justice,” he says.
* WCC activities promoting eco-justice:
* WCC climate justice campaign: http://www.oikoumene.org/climatechange
* Resources for 'Time for Creation': http://www.oikoumene.org/en/events-sections/countdown-to-climate-justice...
* 'Time for Creation' on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=191171314275215