The Fifth Mark of Mission of the Anglican Communion highlights our responsibility to care for the environment. It call us to ‘strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.’ Each year the period of time from 1 September to 4 October is dedicated in the church calendar to Creationtide or the Season of Creation.
To help churches and individuals to explore and celebrate this time together we have pulled together some global resources to help inspire us.
This week we focus on Polynesia – In Polynesia the church teaches ‘moana theology’, their conviction of God’s care for all things, and how the waves, tides and ocean currents are metaphors for God’s love and of the interconnectedness of the environment. They also believe that “As members of the Anglican Communion and appointed guardians and stewards of the environment we have a responsibility to act…the onus is on us to honour our commitment to God.”
‘A view from Polynesia” The following article by the Rt Revd Apimeleki Qiliho, Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Polynesia is taken from our Faith in a Changing Climate resource.
‘I am indigenous to the village of Rukurukulevu, in the province of Nadroga. Like every indigenous Fijian, I derive my identity and sense of belonging from the vanua (land); I am defined by my attachment to my vanua.
Today, the land to which I belong is in crisis. The source of my identity and belonging is threatened by the immense changes being brought about by climate change.
Over the years, there has been increased erosion of the beach surrounding my village: the beach and habitable soil has been gradually washed away into the lagoon. In the early 1980s, the village leadership became so concerned that a seawall was built to try and slow down the rate of erosion. But their initiative has proved to be ineffective; the seawall around Rukurukulevu village has collapsed in places, with a detrimental impact on the lives of the villagers. During storms and high tides, sea water reaches the village green and damages roads, gardens and homes.
The lagoon has become shallower because the physical landscape has changed. The water has become dirtier. Sedimentation and thick deposits of sand have also damaged the marine ecosystems that we rely on for our livelihoods and daily sustenance. We are at a crucial juncture in our history. As members of the Anglican Communion, and as appointed guardians and stewards of the environment, we have a responsibility to act. Climate change is upon us; we can never go back to before it was an issue. The onus is on us to honour our commitment to God.
Fiji and the Pacific are at the centre of the changes our world is going through. In response, we have made great strides in the areas of climate change adaption and mitigation and nations across the Pacific are taking up the Fiji example. But more can be done. To shore up the Pacific, and indeed the whole world, we need to focus on proactive approaches, multi-lateral co-operation and innovation. If we are of one mind, one heart and one spirit, we can challenge leaders and decision-makers to work effectively to end the calamity that surely awaits us if we continue blindly down this road.
The seas rise a little more every year, and more frequent, more deadly and more extreme weather events are occurring. It is our task to stand in solidarity and approach those who would lead us, making our voices heard. We are working to safeguard a future that is not ours, but our children’s. Work must begin now for that future’
Find out more about life in Polynesia by watching a talk by Dr Winston Halapua, Archbishop of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
And then join USPG in prayer by watching A pacific prayer of Moana (Ocean)