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House of Bishops Calls for Creation of More Compassionate and Sustainable Economies That Support the Well-Being of All God's Creation

10/12/2011

At its meeting in Province IX in Quito Ecuador in September 2011, the Episcopal Church House of Bishops issued a pastoral teaching that called for active effort “to create more compassionate and sustainable economies that support the well-being of all God’s creation.”

Among other things, the House of Bishops endorsed the concerns brought to its attention by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN) which had met in Lima the preceding month. At that meeting, the ACEN convenor, Bishop George Browning of Australia, stated, “A lack of awareness and in many cases unwillingness among corporations, governments and consumers to take action were also evident. … The churches of the Anglican Communion must respond urgently and creatively to the effects of climate change. We must also challenge polluters and state authorities to clean up and stop things getting worse. And we must scrutinise and transform our own relationship with God’s creation.”

Quoting from Jeremiah and the Ash Wednesday liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer, the Bishops committed themselves and urged every Episcopalian:

  • To acknowledge the urgency of the planetary crisis in which we find ourselves, and to repent of any and all acts of greed, overconsumption, and waste that have contributed to it;
  • To lift up prayers in personal and public worship for environmental justice, for sustainable development, and for help in restoring right relations both among humankind and between humankind and the rest of creation;
  • To take steps in our individual lives, and in community, public policy, business, and other forms of corporate decision-making, to practice environmental stewardship and justice, including (1) a commitment to energy conservation and the use of clean, renewable sources of energy; and (2) efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle, and whenever possible to buy products made from recycled materials;
  • To seek to understand and uproot the political, social, and economic causes of environmental destruction and abuse;
  • To advocate for a "fair, ambitious, and binding" climate treaty, and to work toward climate justice through reducing our own carbon footprint and advocating for those most negatively affected by climate change.

Acknowledging the controversy over causes of climate change, the Bishops stated, “The Church has always had as one of its priorities a concern for the poor and the suffering. Therefore, we need not agree on the fundamental causes of human devastation of the environment, or on what standard of living will allow sustainable development, or on the roots of poverty in any particular culture, in order to work to minimize the impact of climate change. It is the poor and the disadvantaged who suffer most from callous environmental irresponsibility. Poverty is both a local and a global reality. A healthy economy depends absolutely on a healthy environment.”

Our churches, the Bishops stated, “must become places where we have honest debates about, and are encouraged to live into, more sustainable ways of living. God calls us to die to old ways of thinking and living and be raised to new life with renewed hearts and minds.”

The pastoral teaching issued by the House of Bishops at its meeting in Quito may be found here.  The ACEN report from its meeting in Lima, Peru, during August 2011 may be found here.


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