Seventeen bishops representing 15 provinces of the Anglican Communion are urging Anglicans around the world to recognize climate change as “the most urgent moral issue of our day.”
The “eco-Bishops,” as they have come to be known, released a declaration in advance of Good Friday titled “The World Is Our Host: A Call to Urgent Action for Climate Justice,” in which they said that they “accept the evidence of science concerning the contribution of human activity to the climate crisis and the disproportionate role played by fossil-fuel based economies.”
The statement said that the problem of climate change is “spiritual as well as economic, scientific and political, because the roadblock to effective action relates to basic existential issues of how human life is framed and valued.”
The declaration came out of a conference in February hosted by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network.
Basing its arguments in scripture and the experiences of Anglicans around the world, the declaration spoke of the stories bishops from around the Communion shared of extreme weather events, changing seasonal patterns, rising seawater, depletion of fishing grounds and the impact of pollution, deforestation and mining.
While affirming that “together we struggled with the practical and spiritual dimensions of climate justice in light of the insights and imperatives of our Christian faith,” the declaration also acknowledged “the cultural, political, historical and theological differences between us that we struggle to set aside in framing a united response to this crisis.”
The bishops represented provinces that are major contributors to climate change as well as those who disproportionately suffer from its effects, and they said that over the course of the conference they felt “challenged to go beyond advocacy for action by governments and big business interests, and undertake to practice the way of repentance and restraint.”
The result was a series of commitments from the bishops to actively work toward climate justice in their dioceses, and a call for Anglicans worldwide to join them in fighting climate change.
The commitments ranged from calling for diocesan investment practice reviews and more environmentally-robust theological training, to fasting for the climate and strengthening ecumenical partnerships for fighting climate change. Anglicans everywhere were encouraged to implement energy conservation measures in their church buildings, to use their church grounds to nurture biodiversity and involve themselves in advocacy initiatives.
The declaration was signed by:
Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town and Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa;
Jane Alexander, bishop of Edmonton, Anglican Church of Canada;
Andrew Chan, bishop of Western Kowloon, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui;
Jonathan Casimina, bishop of Davao, Episcopal Church of the Philippines
David Chillingworth, bishop of St. Andrews Dunkeld and Dunblane, Scottish Episcopal Church;
Andrew Dietsche, bishop of New York, The Episcopal Church;
Nicholas Drayson, bishop of Northern Argentina, Anglican Church of South America;
Chad Gandiya, bishop of Harare, Church of the Province of Central Africa
Nicholas Holtam, bishop of Salisbury, Church of England;
Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Bishop, Anglican Church of Canada;
William Mchombo, bishop of Eastern Zambia, Church of the Province of Central Africa;
Stephen Moreo, bishop of Johannesburg, Anglican Church of Southern Africa;
Nathaniel Nakwatumbah, bishop of Namibia, Anglican Church of Southern Africa;
Thomas Oommen, bishop of Madhya Kerala, Church of South India;
Apimeleki Qiliho, bishop of Vanua Levu and Taveuni, Fiji, Anglican Church of Aotearoa;
Ellinah Wamukoya, bishop of Swaziland, Anglican Church of Southern Africa; and
Tom Wilmot, assistant bishop to the Goldfields Country Region in the diocese of Perth, Anglican Church of Australia.