World Council of Churches and Ecumenical Patriarch’s encyclical issues call to dwell in harmony with God’s creation
01 September 2015
As part of the observation of the Time for Creation, Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, has once again sent an encyclical to remind churches and people of good will about the grave risks deriving from growing abuse of energy resources, threatening to increase global warming and the sustainability of the natural environment.
“We invite everyone to soberness of life, purification of passionate thoughts and selfish motivations, so that we may dwell in harmony with our neighbours and with God’s creation,” said Bartholomew I.
These reflections were shared by the Ecumenical Patriarch on the occasion of the start of a “Time for Creation”, a global event which invokes prayers for creation, eco-justice and peace with the earth. It has been celebrated each year since 1989 from 1 September to 4 October. This year’s event has been promoted by Pope Francis’s recent proclamation of 1 September as the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.”
The Time for Creation was affirmed by the WCC Central Committee in 2008 as an invitation “to observe through prayers and action a special time for creation, its care and stewardship.”
In the encyclical, Bartholomew I stated, “On this day, we especially beseech the supreme God to gladden His creation so that human life therein may be joyful and fruitful. This prayer includes of course the petition that the inevitable natural climate changes may occur and be permitted within tolerable levels both for human survival and for the planet’s sustainability.”
He added, “Nonetheless, we humans – whether as individual groups or collectively – behave contrary to this very request. For we suppress nature in such a manner that unforeseeable and undesirable changes occur to the climate and environment, which are negatively affected in their normal functions with consequent implications for life itself.”
Churches to pray for care of creation (WCC news release of 20 August 2015)
September 1st was proclaimed as a day of prayer for the environment by the late Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I in 1989. The Orthodox church year starts that day with a commemoration of how God created the world. On 4 October, Roman Catholics and other churches from the Western traditions commemorate Francis of Assisi, known to many as the author of the Canticle of the Creatures.
The proposal to celebrate a Time for Creation during these five weeks was made by the Third European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu in 2007.The following year, the WCC Central Committee invited churches to observe Time for Creation through prayers and actions.
- produced by Eco Congregation Scotland on behalf of the Church of Scotland.
- Sustainable September resources from the Uniting Church in Western Australia.
- Educational resources for all ages from Creation Justice Ministries.
- Prayers, songs and texts on climate, spirituality and peace with the Earth available in English,French, German, Kisuaheli and Bahasa Indonesia on the website of the United Evangelical Mission.
- Multilingual brochure “God’s creation – a house of life for all” published by the Evangelical Church in Central Germany in cooperation with partner churches from Slovakia, Sweden, Tanzania and the United States.
- Season of Creation eucharistic prayer in English, Portuguese and other African languages, by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa Environmental Network. See also their revised Season of Creation resource collection (pdf).
- Sermon notes, intercessions, group study and harvest festival ideas by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (in English with Welsh and Irish translations).
- Resources including a set of worship service outlines by the United Church of Canada
- Resources collected by the
- Resources provided by Let all Creation Praise
- Exegetical and liturgical resources collected by the Network of Earthkeeping Christian Communities in South Africa (in English and Afrikaans)
- Prayers, blessings and meditations collected by the European Christian Environmental Network (in a variety of languages). See also their
- Readings, sermons, songs and other liturgical resources are also available on the Australian website Season of Creation.
- Worship, teaching and prayer material by the
- Prayers and liturgies, preaching and educational resources by the Canadian Green Church project (in English and French)
- Church resources by the .
- Season of Creation resources by Rev. Dr Jason John of the in Australia
- Resources in Swedish by the
- Documents by the Globalization and Environment unit of the (in Italian)
- Outline of a on the theme of creation held at the Ecumenical Centre on 22 April 2013
- See also the Ecumenical Water Network’s reflections and resources from the .