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.
For week 3 we focus on Madagascar and South East Asia
Scientists agree that the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters that we are seeing right across the world are due to climate change. In Southeast Asia churches in countries like Hong Kong and the Philippines are helped their communities to face the latest super typhoon as they know that preparation can help to save lives and also continue to support their communities to rebuild their lives.
- Find out what it feels like to face a disaster by reading A view from Madagascar, written by the Revd Canon Samitiana Jhonson, Provincial
Secretary, Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean, for our Faith In a Changing Climate resource
In my experience, as a Malagasy person, the most obvious experience of climate change is how unusual it is to have so many cyclones. During the hot season we now have three or four cyclones each year. Not only is the number of cyclones increasing but so is their speed and strength.
At the same time, because the temperature is also rising, the south part of the island is becoming drier. The drought is critical and has led to famine. Last November, the Bishop of Toliara visited a parish to perform a christening, and a week later five of the children that had been christened had died due to a lack of food and drinking water.
Across all the islands in our province, climate change is having a significant impact on our economic lives. As island people, much of our livelihood is based on fishing. The sea is getting warmer so fish are becoming rarer as they swim at deeper levels. This means fishing has become difficult, and I think that even the government is beginning to realise the need to find alternative livelihoods.
In rural inland areas, the population relies on agriculture and farming. However, reduced rainfall has ruined harvests, and this has been compounded by the impact of cyclones. For nine months of the year, the land receives too little rainfall, then in the remaining three months, cyclones destroy the land even further.
Food prices are on the increase so people, whose livelihoods are already suffering, are going hungry. This has a knock-on effect on other aspects of life. For example, during dry periods, some parents don’t send their children to school because they are needed to help the family work and find food. Also, parents are usually required to send children to school with their meals, which they aren’t able to do.
As a church, our communities are helping with reconstruction after disasters. Often in such times the best thing the church can do is open its doors and offer a safe place for the people to stay while they are rebuilding their lives.
The church has also started to think more about how we can protect the land, manage our water and support communities hit by disasters. We are also looking at how we can make our communities more resilient. We are having these discussions as a province and are receiving training from the government as well.
Globally, we know that we are facing different degrees of climate change and that some parts of the world are more exposed than others. But the impact of climate change cannot be denied: it is visible and real and we need to help each other to understand that. We need to be globally aware and to think deeply on behalf of communities where climate change is life-destroying. We need to listen to each other as one community and learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses so that we may rebuild lives and face climate change together.
As Christians, Creation – and re-creation – must be part of our liturgy and teaching.