“Our Holy Scriptures begin and end with Creation,” Joe Bonga shared on the Joint Webinar: Looking Ahead—Creation Care 2023, hosted by the World Evangelical Alliance Sustainability Center on January 24 at 9 AM EST. Bonga signed in from Africa, representing Africa for SDGs, which “seeks to identify, mobilize and organize young leaders everywhere to equip them with knowledge, skills, value, and attitude for innovative, implementable, and scalable solutions towards urgent social, economic, and environmental challenges facing their local communities.”
Bonga was just one of a dozen different global partners connected to the World Evangelical Alliance Sustainability Center to broadcast key challenges and anticipated progress for creation care in 2023. Nearly 100 participants representing agencies and organizations around the world joined the webinar live to hear reports from their brothers and sisters in Christ everywhere who lead and direct creation care advocacy in their communities.
There has never been another time in the history of humanity where so many people could connect for a shared global conversation around any topic, speak in a shared language, and rally around the same hope in the Lord for the restoration and preservation of our beloved earth as this time. We are here for such a time as this! What a challenge! What a gift! What an opportunity!
That was the spirit felt amongst leaders from the Lausanne Movement, A Rocha, EFICOR, Renew Our World, Tearfund, Green Anglicans, Anglican Alliance, and the WEA Sustainability Center. There is much work to be done, but there is a Spirit that unites us across oceans and continents, and that Spirit is the Lord, to whom we prayed throughout the 90-minute webinar, beginning with this call:
Lord, Renew our spirits and cleanse our hearts
Renew our minds and transform our lives
Renew our cities and rebuild our ruins
Renew our world, in your name we pray, Amen.
Let Us Not Become Weary in Doing Good…
There was a great sense of urgency among Creation Care advocates to encourage corporation leaders and governments around the world to act upon recent global agreements so that what has been accepted in principle becomes practice.
One such recent agreement—to compensate the poorest countries for the loss and damage caused by climate change—is a key agreement that may take years or even decades to see its fruition. In the meantime, unprecedented floods, droughts, storms, famines, and water shortages threaten lives and inflict suffering on people who are part of God’s family.
Vanessa Nakate, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Climate Activist, shared Jesus’ words in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The damage to our environment is stealing, killing, and destroying the lives of people in some of the poorest countries and communities on the globe. As the body of Christ and vessel of the Holy Spirit on Earth today, we can work with Jesus to restore abundant life and minister to those Jesus loves.
…At the Proper Time We Will Reap a Harvest
Several key gatherings will take place this year among global leaders, and the voice of faith communities advocating for creation care will be strongly represented. In the UN, plastic negotiations are taking place, and a Rubbish Campaign will launch March 1 to encourage more reuse and recycling. Also in March, the UN Water Summit will take place, focusing on the issues, concerns, and actions already in place.
In June, the UN-HABITAT Assembly will meet to assess progress on the Sustainable Development Goal #11, which is “Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.” Chris Elisara, Co-Director of WEA-SC, reported that Faith for Earth is making headway in mainstreaming the importance of a faith perspective and faith values within UN-HABITAT. There’s work to be done to update and revise the “Gospel and the Future of Cities: A Call to Action,” which will take place at Lausanne 4 in Seoul 2024, but requires advance conversation and dialogue throughout the next year to prepare.
In September, the UN Secretary General is convening a Climate Ambition Summit. The SDG Summit will also be held in September to assess our progress on the Sustainable Development Goals at its midpoint. The UN Climate Change Council of the Parties (COP28) will meet in Dubai November 30-December 12.
Many different denominations around the globe have adopted September 1-October 5, 2023 as the Season of Creation in the church calendar under the theme “Let Justice and Peace Flow,” inspired by Amos 5:24, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” Activities and resources for the Season of Creation will be posted soon.
Global Change Requires Local Roots
These faith organizations are working at the systemic level to bring about change and action on behalf of the whole globe. But true revolutionary and systemic change began with one itinerant prophet preacher and a band of 12 unlikely disciples. Global change requires local people turning around, kneeling down, opening doors, and loving their neighbors and their planet. We are the local roots that cause a global movement to grow.
In addition to the global voices for change mentioned above, several grassroots organizations are making an impact in communities around the world. The Mission Agencies & Creation Care Network (MACC) has begun to gather representatives from mission agencies around the globe virtually to provide mutual support, exchange ideas, and unite around their roles within the communities they serve.
Green Anglicans provides weekly sermon notes on care for creation through Preaching for God’s World. Offered from different writers around the world based on the Revised Common Lectionary, this material makes it easy to incorporate creation care into teaching from the pulpit.
Communion Forest, another initiative of the Anglican tradition, is a global initiative of local activities: forest protection, tree growing, and ecosystem restoration, spearheaded by local congregations and dioceses.
In India, EFICOR is working with local governments to develop and distribute District Climate Resilience Plans, which invite community members to voice their challenges, identify trends and patterns in their local climate, and discuss what they would like to do about it and how they can be a part of change.
Africa for SDGs created African Climate Warriors, which is a network of individuals working with children, teens, and youth in learning institutions to drive climate actions and advocacy in their learning institutions and communities.
The Scripture Engagement Department of SIL Nigeria developed the Faith and Farming initiative to help those who work on the land connect with the Bible in their own language to empower them to see the connection between their faith in God and their daily work. They have developed a workbook that is available in English, French, Swahili, and Portuguese.
What Can You Do?
Keep following Root & Vine News for inspiring stories of local friends and neighbors who are doing their part to love God and love the world God made, and look out for opportunities to make small changes in the way you’re caring for creation. Every small change creates a ripple effect of good you can’t even imagine.
We can’t grow weary in the pursuit of this good work. Together with the rest of the body of Christ, we will reap a harvest at the proper time if we don’t give up (Galatians 6:9).