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Churches around Europe gear up to counter toxins

November 1, 2005:

A deeply moving service was held today at St James's Church, Picadilly in London to launch the official ARC liturgy designed for use across Europe in preparation for the REACH legislation debate at the end of this month.

Environmental activists, faith representatives, NGOs, members of ARC and members of the local congregation at St James's Church joined together in the hope and prayer that European parliamentarians will debate the issue of responsible documentation of the impact of chemicals, in a caring, compassionate and positive way, when the subject comes before the European Parliament on November 17 and then before the European Council of Ministers on November 28.

It was the first of many such services to be held throughout the continent during this month of All Hallows.

The full liturgy and the shorter Rainbow covenant have been circulated to faith networks around Europe - with interest already being shown by cathedrals, churches and synagogues, wanting to inspire their congregations to take an active role in supporting stricter legislation on the chemicals that affect all of us.

"Ninety percent of the chemicals currently on sale in Europe have never been assessed for their wider environmental and health impact. Which means that we do not know for sure what they do. But we do know that their impact stretches far beyond our own communities and generations."
Among those who have taken up and circulated the liturgy are: the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, the Christian-Ecology Link and several liberal synagogues. Additionally, information has been circulated to the Ecumenical News International, the European Christian Environmental Network, Eco-Congregations, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth (SYNDESMOS) and others.

The World Council of Churches has supported the adoption of REACH legislation with a strong open letter to MEPs and others, from its general secretary, Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia.

The liturgy was designed by ARC with the support of WWF, which has been a strong proponent of REACH from the beginning.

Elizabeth Salter Green, Director of the European Toxics Programme for WWF, said: "WWF is extremely grateful for the support of ARC on this essential moral issue - as expressed both through this wonderful service today and also through the distribution of the service and background information to thousands of churches across Europe. This is a unique contribution which only ARC and its faith network could possibly launch."

Her colleague, Jill Bowling, UK Director of Conservation for WWF said: "WWF is delighted to launch this new initiative with ARC. The partnership will provide a huge number of faith groups around the world with inspiration and focus for their conservation efforts. We know that the faith groups are a powerful instrument of change. We look forward to seeing the initiative grow over the coming years."

St James's Picadilly
Charles Hedley, Rector of St. James's, which has had a strong anti-toxins policy for some years, said that: "The Rainbow Covenant is not humankind saying we have become like God, but a sign that we and all creation are in the same boat together."

"This month is a particularly relevant time to be thinking about toxins being released into the environment without sufficient controls," said ARC's programme director, John Smith. "The old month ended with Hallowe'en, the end of the old pagan year, when we traditionally contemplate the dark and dangerous forces that have been unleashed into the world. And this month begins with All Hallows, a time to remember the Communion of Saints, who are people throughout time who have chosen to take a stand, and support the forces of good."

"This month is the chance for all of us, whatever our faith, to take a stand, and oppose the sale of any chemicals that do not have documentation to say that they are safe. For us, for children, for animals, and for the wider environment."

Karl Wagner, director of WWF's detox campaign, said that REACH is "the one piece of legislation that the chemical industry worldwide has been avoiding for 30 years." If it does not get through the European Parliament this time, "it could take another ten years until it can be readdressed."

For more information about REACH link here.

For information about WWF action on REACH link here.

For the shorter Rainbow Covenant, suitable for use in all services in November, link here.

Anybody interested in supporting REACH is recommended to write to their MEP and to their MP.

If you would like to contact ARC about any of these issues, email John Smith at

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Related pages

October 13 2005:
Full Hallowe'en/All Saints Liturgy to support REACH
The full text of a liturgy to be used through November to support debate on REACH anti-toxin legislation, before the European Parliament.
October 13 2005:
ARC launches liturgy to combat toxins
Churches launch a liturgy in support of REACH anti-toxins legislation, acknowledging the toxic forces let loose in the world and the powers of good that can overcome them.
World Council of Churches supports ARC's ALL HALLOWS REACH initiative
Rev Dr Sam Kobia, General Secretary of the WCC writes in strong support of the ARC/WWF All Hallows month of support for REACH anti toxins legislation