The National Council of Churches in India has joined the battle to turn green by calling for Christians to mobilise in the world's second most populous nation, and to join in the fight against global warming - writes Anto Akkara.
"We urge all member churches to initiate on war footing green parish programmes, plastic-free church campuses, biological farming," exhorted the closing message from the once every four years assembly of the churches in India during its 1-5 May 2008 gathering at Shillong in northeastern India.
"We may not be as much a party to global warming as the developed world. But, we too are contributing our part to it," said Methodist Bishop Taranath S. Sagar, who was elected president of the NCCI during the assembly, for a four year term.
Addressing a news conference, Bishop Sagar, who is based in the southern city of Bangalore, said, "It's time for the churches in India to take up environmental issues seriously."
Sagar told Ecumenical News International, "Though the churches stand united at national level, this unity is not reflected in action at regional or local level. Our challenge is to foster greater collaboration and unity at local congregation level."
Acknowledging global warming as "a human sin" against nature, the national forum of 30 Orthodox and Protestant churches in India said that Christians have a duty "to make our presence a healing and transforming one".
To realise its goal, the church council urged its members to promote an effective "greening of faith" at the congregational level, and to take steps to encourage and support sustainable farming at a time when agricultural lands are being converted into special economic zones due to rapid industrialisation.
Regular crop failures due to drought, the excessive use of pesticides and hybrid seeds have driven thousands of farmers into debt traps, triggering in many cases suicides and forcing the federal government earlier this year to write off US$15 billion in loans to small and marginal farmers.
Environment concerns and global warming was one of five themes at the church assembly attended by 270 delegates from across the country.
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]