World Council of Churches encourages renewed climate efforts
Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
11 June 2017
Expressing its deep disappointment at US withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement, the WCC has urged renewed commitment by churches and praised local communities and governments for their reaffirmation of climate commitments.
”The US President’s decision to withdraw from its commitment to lower green house gas emissions as well as to financing the Green Climate Fund has grave consequences for the impoverished and vulnerable, for our children’s children, and for the entire planet, putting at risk people’s access to clean water, food, shelter and secure livelihoods, and undermining efforts for environmental sustainability and for peace,” said the WCC’s executive committee statement.
Gathered in Bossey, Switzerland, June 7-12, the 25-member executive committee addressed a range of programmatic and public issues. It meets every six months to guide the work of the council between biennial gatherings of the WCC central committee.
Voicing its resolve, the committee’s statement said, ”We will continue to work even harder with movements, multi-faith groups and likeminded governments to build climate-resilient communities. As Christians, we do not only have hope, we will live out that hope in action.”
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it (Psalm 24 :1)
The Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC), meeting in Bossey, Switzerland, on 7-12 June 2017, expresses its deep disappointment at the recent decision by the US President to withdraw from the Paris Agreement concluded in December 2015.
The US President’s decision to withdraw from its commitment to lower green house gas emissions as well as to financing the Green Climate Fund has grave consequences for the impoverished and vulnerable, for our children’s children, and for the entire planet, putting at risk people’s access to clean water, food, shelter and secure livelihoods, and undermining efforts for environmental sustainability and for peace.
Based on overwhelming scientific evidence confirming that climate change is real and accelerating and driven substantially by human activity, and in the knowledge that climate change is a major impediment to the enjoyment of human rights not only for the most vulnerable but for all people, the onus is on all of us to do our utmost to halt emissions now in order to slow this already dangerous process.
The WCC has always emphasized that wealthy, industrialized nations such as the US have a moral and ethical obligation to act first and to act immediately. The US could have set a powerful example of what it means to be an accountable, responsible and justice-loving member of the international community in responding to this global challenge. Instead the current US administration has chosen to step back from a better future – including for its own citizens – from both environmental and economic perspectives.
The WCC Executive Committee:
- Urges the US government to reconsider this decision, in light of the environmental, economic and existential impacts on its own citizens as well as on the whole world.
- Expresses its solidarity and support for the churches, national and state councils of churches, and church-related organizations in the USA in their efforts to respond to this development from the basis of their faith commitments to justice, peace and the integrity of creation.
- Recognizes and applauds the response from some states, municipalities, companies and other organizations and communities in the USA reaffirming their commitment to abide by the principles of the Paris Agreement in spite of their government’s withdrawal.
The WCC shares the conviction that the shift towards a low-carbon and sustainable future is both essential and already unstoppable. As churches, we will continue to work even harder with movements, multi-faith groups and likeminded governments to build climate-resilient communities. As Christians, we do not only have hope, we will live out that hope in action.
Care for creation and justice are at the centre of WCC work on climate change. The Bible teaches the wholeness of creation and calls human beings to take care of the garden of Eden (Gen 2:15). The God of the Bible is a God of justice who protects, loves and cares for the most vulnerable among his creatures.
The present world development model is threatening the lives and livelihoods of many, especially among the world’s poorest people, and destroying biodiversity. The ecumenical vision is to overcome this model based on over-consumption and greed.
Since the 1970s, the WCC has helped develop the concept of sustainable communities. Since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted in 1992, the WCC has been present at all UN climate change conferences.
Over the years, the WCC helped foster a movement for climate justice touching millions of people around the world, including thousands of congregations who rang their bells for fair and ambitious climate action in 2009 and are connected in prayer each year during Time for Creation.
It’s time for climate justice
When creation is threatened, churches and Christians are called to speak out and act as an expression of their commitment to life, justice and love.
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08 June 2017
The World Council of Churches (WCC) Executive Committee is meeting at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey this week from 7-12 June, focusing on unity, renewal of the WCC strategic plan and financial strategy, the building project, preparations for the 11th Assembly and observance of WCC’s 70th anniversary.
In words of welcome to the Executive Committee, Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the WCC Central Committee, acknowledged that the meeting was taking place in the context of a turbulent world characterized by fear of the known and unknown, desperation and a sense of hopelessness.
Abuom mentioned the Churches’ Commitment to Children, awareness of the pivotal role of religion, spirits of fear and division unleashed, and narratives of hope amid challenges.
“Amidst the challenges and tribulations, we are challenged to manage transitions in ways that will ensure the ecumenical movement keeps moving in the right direction according to the purposes for which it was founded and of course informed by the contemporary circumstances,” she said. “Our deliberations and decisions should contribute to a vibrant, vital and coherent fellowship of men and women with a shared vision.”
Times of unity
In his report to the Executive Committee, WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit noted that we are living in a time when the purpose and the objectives of the WCC are highly relevant.
Based on these realities, there is a need for a new search for unity, he said. “Through the many dimensions of its work, the WCC contributes to the unity of the church, and the unity that the WCC is able to express, in turn, contributes to the unity of humankind.”
“The many expressions of polarization, greater gaps between rich and poor, extremism and violence, worries about the future of the planet Earth and withdrawal of accountability for our common home and future create a constant call upon what we stand for, what we can do, and what our values and vision are,” Tveit reflected.
This comes to the surface in the efforts to pursue a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, he said. “There are so many contexts, so many people who long and struggle for more justice, for reconciliation and peace that can bring new light and new hope into their lives.”
“There is a willingness in the WCC constituencies and beyond, in the Roman Catholic Church, in the World Evangelical Alliance, among Pentecostal churches and others to seek a united witness and a common service for those who need us to unite our agendas and resources for those who need our attention the most.”
“The unity of the church and the unity of humankind are interconnected,” added Tveit. “The ecumenical endeavors cannot be successful without a deep understanding of what it means to live together in the body of Christ, in the love of Christ.”
World Mission Conference plans solidify
The WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) shared with the Executive Committee a report that outlined the theme, sub-themes, style, spiritual life and programme of the World Mission Conference, to be held in Arusha, Tanzania, from 8-13 March 2018. The theme will be “Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship.”
The phrase “Moving in the Spirit” brings the notion of a pilgrimage characterized by constant hope for a transformed world of justice and peace and a commitment to renewal in Christ, explained Metropolitan Geevarghese Mor Coorilos, moderator of the CWME in the report to the Executive Committee.
“The second part of the theme calls us to transforming discipleship. We are called to be disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, to whom we witness and whom we proclaim as we move in the Spirit.”
The conference will also be a celebration, said Metropolitan Geevarghese Mor Coorilos. “The tone of the conference should be celebratory, for it is a vibrant gathering of God’s people to give thanks and praise for God’s mercy and the continuous use of us for God’s mission.”
Interviews with the WCC representatives may be requested via the WCC director of communication Marianne Ejdersten: [email protected], +41 79 507 63 63.