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Pray and Engage: the Archbishop of Canterbury advises Anglicans to act for nature

June 4, 2009:

Archbishop with Bishops on Shores of Lake Tanganyika, Burundi. Photo taken from:

In his address for World Environment Day, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, urges Christians to do two important things this year: to pray for the environment, recognising that it is an issue of justice as well as of nature. And to engage actively in the process of the Copenhagen COP.

"This year the theme of the United Nation's World Environment Day is 'Your Planet Needs You-UNite to Combat Climate Change'.

Whilst it will be for governments meeting in Copenhagen in December to agree a successor to the Kyoto regime for global reductions in carbon emissions - and we all want those to be both ambitious and deliverable - we have a part to play. Governments need to know that people want them to be ambitious. They need a mandate. So what can we do?

I think there are two things we can do. We can, and we should, pray. Climate change is not only an environmental issue - probably the most important we face; it is also an issue of justice. As usual the poorest are likely to suffer the most though the richest have contributed most to pollute the atmosphere and accelerate global warming. So we can pray that a proper sense of responsibility (not least to the generations who will follow us) and of justice guides the hearts and the minds of the politicians who will meet in Copenhagen. This Sunday - Environment Sunday - is an obvious opportunity for us to focus our own hearts and minds on this issue.

The second thing we can do is get involved in the preparations for Copenhagen. Between now and December there will be activity, lobbying and hard thinking going on in civil society as well as government in preparation for the Climate Summit. Many faith groups and civil society organizations, (and that includes the Church of England), will be organising events to heighten awareness of the issues and the opportunities which the summit brings.

I shall be going to Copenhagen to support those and to emphasise the strength of the concern that people of faith have for the future well-being of our planet. Please include in your prayers this Environment Sunday all whose efforts in the months to come could make a real difference for the sustainability of our planet and we who live in it - it is God's creation that we are striving to care for and as God's children that we pray and act."

The Church of England Seven Year Plan

The Bishop of London the Rt Revd Richard Chartres is Chair of Shrinking the Footprint and a key backer of the Church of England's Seven Year Plan, being created with the help of ARC. He said: "Climate change is a global challenge, the impact of which is being felt first by some of the most vulnerable communities on our planet. Loving our neighbour in the 21st Century demands that we should be involved in the effort to mitigate climate change and to help our neighbours to adapt.

The Church of England's environmental campaign Shrinking the Footprint is being marked by a national event at Lambeth Palace on June 11 where new toolkits and other resources will be unveiled to help churches, cathedrals and other buildings reduce their energy footprint. The next phase of the campaign focusing on water and biodiversity will also be unveiled.

Nearly all dioceses now have an environment officer with many promoting their own green policies to cut the carbon in every parish.

Prayer for creation (taken from Common Worship: Seasons and Festivals of the Agricultural Year)

God said, 'Let the waters be gathered together,
and let dry land appear.'
We thank you for the beauty of the earth,
for the diversity of land and sea,
for the resources of the earth.
Give us the will to cherish this planet
and to use its riches for the good and welfare of all.
God of life:hear our prayer.

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