Leaders Conclude Environmental Crisis “Must be Resolved In Our Generation”
13 November 2012 St. Ann, Jamaica – Creation care is, “a gospel issue, a discipleship issue and a missional issue that is fully grounded in Christian scripture,” says Rev. Dave Bookless, International Advisor for Theology and Churches at A Rocha, an international Christian organization involved in scientific research, environmental education and community-based conservation projects. Bookless was one of 60 participants, from 23 countries, at the Lausanne Global Consultation on Creation Care and the Gospel held last month in Jamaica. Throughout the week, participants sought God’s wisdom and explored God’s word in addressing the issue of creation care and the role of the church from a biblical perspective, and alongside interlinked issues of justice, poverty, and reconciliation.
The Consultation, held in collaboration with the World Evangelical Alliance, brought together theologians, scientists, specialists, church leaders, and representatives of international development agencies. Creation Care is one of the more than 30 priority gospel issues highlighted in The Cape Town Commitment, produced out of The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization: Cape Town 2010.
A Call to Action from the Consultation to the global Church on creation care in the gospel and the urgency of the task has been released (www.lausanne.org/creationcare). Rev. Edward R. Brown, Lausanne Movement Senior Associate for Creation Care, said the Call for Action was released because “we believe that the environmental crisis is one that must be resolved in our generation.” A report of the gathering will be available in three months time, followed by a book next year with papers and reflections.
During the week, Brown focused Consultation participants on Psalm 8 with a reminder, “that God proclaims His name through the created word – creation, the written word – the Bible, and the living Word – Jesus Christ.”
Sir John Houghton, former co-chair of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change‘s Scientific Assessment Working Group, spoke to the gathering by Skype. Sir John challenged participants to always be seeking truth, “in the science, theology and practicality of creation care.” He added that, “human activities are influencing the world climate and particularly the poorest of the poor.” Dr. Robert White, professor of geophysics at Cambridge University stated, “The Christian imperative is to care for the earth, care for the poor and practice good stewardship of God’s creation.”
Dr. Jonathan Moo, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Whitworth University (Spokane, WA USA), discussed the biblical ethics of creation care emphasizing that he believes, “Biblical creation care is rooted in an understanding and celebration of the world as God’s creation and as a participant in the redemption in Christ, who is the true owner and master.”
For Lalbiakhlui Rokhum, Manager of the Centre for Policy Studies and Advocacy at the Evangelical Fellowship of India Commission on Relief, her faith in Christ is the central starting point for involvement in creation care, and caring for creation is a justice issue. “For most of us sitting here, climate change is an inconvenience. No person in my family has committed suicide because the rains haven’t come this year. No person in my family has died of hunger. No person in my family has been washed away by unexpected flood waters. But, my faith requires me to act,” she stressed.
Leaders recognized the important role churches and pastors can serve in educating and compelling Christians to take responsibility for their environment. Paul Cook, Advocacy and Media Director for Tearfund, said however that the church needs a, “Wilberforce moment and an anti-apartheid moment on the issue of creation care,” that will motivate them to take action. Bishop Efriam Tendero, Bishop of Manila and Lausanne Senior Associate for Anti-Corruption, believes the church can be, “used of God to be a primary catalyst for creation care, but we cannot do it alone. We need business leaders, governments and all aspects of civil society to join.” Sarah Wambua, Mission Network Manager for Church Mission Society Africa (Kenya), said that, “Christians in Africa need to move beyond being ‘Sunday Christians’ to allowing their faith in Christ to impact their Monday through Saturday lives including how they make responsible decisions regarding the environment.”
Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, Chair of the WEA Theological Commission, issued a strong plea to Christians in the Global South, “to lead the church on the issue of creation care,” because they are being impacted the most by this issue. Chris Shore, Director of Natural Environment and Climate Issues for World Vision International, agreed, “environmental degradation is rampant in the Global South.”
Dr. Las Newman, President of the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology and Lausanne International Deputy Director for the Caribbean, said the Consultation was very timely and welcomed in the Caribbean. “While we may argue and counter-argue the science of climate change, for people living in the Caribbean, we know how fragile and vulnerable our environment is to catastrophic disasters, natural and human induced. We are experiencing more frequent and more intense impacts of natural disasters from tropical storms, hurricanes, and volcanic actions, to droughts, floods, and other extreme weather effects, and at the same time witnessing environmental abuse and degradation of our natural, physical, marine, and social environments through rampant poverty, violence, war, exploitation, neglect, and misdirected state policies.” He added, ‘The Caribbean Church needs to wake up and understand the issues involved in Creation Care.”
Brown says the Consultation has already given rise to plans for several regional Consultations on creation care, including meetings in Southeast Asia, East Africa. and North America. He is hopeful that the Call to Action, as well as other planned resources will help provide a good base for additional consultations and will result in, “the development of a global movement for caring for creation through local churches, including a biblically based understanding of our role as caretakers of God’s creation, as well as specific steps Christians can take in their community and goals to measure progress.”
Partners in the Consultation included Tearfund (UK), World Vision International, ACTS Ministries of Bangalore India, Care of Creation Inc., A Rocha International and the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology. Other partners were the John Ray Initiative, Imago Dei Foundation, and First Fruit Inc.
The papers from Consultation and a discussion on Creation Care are being hosted on the Lausanne website (www.lausanne.org).
Lausanne is a global Movement that mobilizes evangelical leaders to collaborate for world evangelization. It grew out of the 1974 International Congress on World Evangelization convened in Lausanne, Switzerland by Rev. Billy Graham and Bishop Jack Dain. The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (October 2010) in Cape Town, South Africa brought together 4000 Christian leaders, representing 198 countries. The resulting Cape Town Commitment (www.lausanne.org/ctcommitment) serves as the blueprint for the Movement’s activities.
Lausanne is convening four to five Consultations each year around the issues articulated in The Cape Town Commitment. For more information, please go to www.lausanne.org.
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For further information, please contact Naomi Frizzell, [email protected]