Cover Story

Ramping up Faith-inspired climate action

Climate action is on everyone's lips these days. An unprecedented number of people of all ages and walks of life took to the street last Friday, September 20, for the global climate strikes. In the wake of this global movement, faith groups have ramped up their efforts in mobilizing their constituencies around the world for awareness and action and making their voices heard on the international policy level.

The schedule of events in connection with the UN Climate Action Summit, which took place from September 21-23 at the UN Headquarters in New York, listed a variety of faith-related meetings and sessions. An ecumenical service for climate justice on Sunday was followed by a panel on the mobilization of faith communities for climate action. And while this Faith in Development Monitor is being published, an interfaith consultation on “Climate Emergency: Faith-based Organisations Raising Ambition - Leaving no one behind” is underway in New York.

Even before the world’s eyes turned to New York in hope for a strong signal from the UN level for courageous climate action, faith groups had made headlines with announcements of various divestment initiatives. In a joint statement on 10 September, three Muslim faith-based organisations – the Bahu Trust, the Islamic Foundation for Environmental & Ecological Sciences (IFEES), and the Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) - called “upon all Muslim individuals and institutions to immediately commence a comprehensive process to evaluate all of their current savings and investments to ensure they are not invested in the fossil fuel industry.” Shortly afterwards, numerous Christian organizations - among them seven Protestant institutions, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa, and Caritas agencies in Italy, Singapore, Australia, and Norway – published a divestment announcement as a summit called ‘Financing the Future’ was set to begin in Cape Town, South Africa, in mid-September.

Several statements by faith leaders and faith-inspired speakers went viral in the run-up to this month’s climate action events, illustrating once more the moral power of faith to spark change on a personal level. In his inspirational speech on Climate Change at the United Nations this September, Gaur Gopal Das of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) asked the audience: “How are we going to be responsible in consuming and responsible in producing?”. His answer was: “The practice of yoga teaches us the art of self-control.” Archbishop Justin Welby of the Anglican Communion, stated in a video message in mid-September, that “it’s absolutely clear that in 2019, following Jesus must include standing alongside those that are on the front line of this unfolding catastrophe” referring to the adverse effects of climate change. He announced that climate change will be a ‘central part’ of conversations at next year’s Lambeth Conference, the decennial assembly of bishops of the Anglican Communion whose resolutions carry great moral and spiritual authority for the Anglican Churches worldwide. Meanwhile, Pope Francis invited Catholics around the world to join in prayers for the earth considering climate change during the current Season of Creation.

Launch of the new PaRD EWCA-Workstream On the more operational level of interfaith climate action, the recent launch of a new work-stream of the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD) on Environment, Water and Climate Action (EWCA) means more opportunities for greater involvement of and coordination between faith groups in practical efforts geared towards climate change mitigation and adaptation. The new EWCA work-stream was launched on August 29th during the World Water Week 2019 in Stockholm/Sweden and is co-led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Muslim organization Global One 2015, the World Evangelical Alliance Sustainability Center, Tearfund, and the World Council of Churches.

The scale and content of faith-based and faith-inspired contributions to the global climate change discourse are remarkable. It remains to be seen, however, which respectful and productive ways of engaging with faith communities global implementing bodies (within and outside of the UN system) will find for practical climate action.

Religious Literacy Academy

Anglicanism

The word Anglican originates from the Medieval Latin phrase ecclesia anglicana which means English Church. Deriving from the ancient Celtic and Saxon churches on the British Isles, Anglicanism found its distinctive identity in the 16th- and 17th-century Reformation, when the separate Church of England, Church of Ireland and Scottish Episcopal Church developed. It was during the reign of King Henry VIII that the Church of England separated from the Bishop of Rome. Later, Anglicanism spread outside England in two stages: The first stage was in the beginning in the 17th century, when it spread alongside colonies in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, India, the West Indies and Guyana. The second stage was in the beginning in the 18th century, when missionaries established Anglican churches in Asia, Africa and Latin America. At the time of the American Revolution, an independent Episcopal church was founded in the United States. In the US, Scotland and elsewhere, Anglicans are also known as Episcopalians.

Anglicanism includes features of both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. Anglicans uphold the Catholic and Apostolic faith. Following the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Churches are committed to the proclamation of the Gospel. In practice, this is based on the revelation contained in the Bible and the Catholic creeds, and is interpreted in light of Christian tradition, scholarship, reason and experience. The four essential elements of the Anglican Christian faith are: The holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed, the two sacraments ordained by Jesus Christ himself - baptism and the supper of the Lord -, and the historic episcopate.

Worship is a central element of Anglicanism. Until the late twentieth century, the great uniting text was The Book of Common Prayer, in its various revisions throughout the Communion, and the modern language liturgies, such as Common Worship, which now exist alongside it still bear a resemblance. The first Book of Common Prayer was compiled in 1549 by Thomas Cranmer, who was then Archbishop of Canterbury. Central to Anglican worship is the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, also called the Holy Communion. Other important rites, commonly called sacraments, include confirmation, holy orders, reconciliation, marriage and anointing of the sick.

Anglicanism is loosely organized in the Anglican Communion, a worldwide family of religious bodies that represents the offspring of the Church of England. The Anglican Communion is one of the world’s largest Christian communities being represented in more than 165 countries around the globe and comprising tens of millions Christians who are members of 46 different Churches. These make up 40 member churches (also called provinces) and six other national or local churches known as Extra Provincials. Some provinces are national, others are regional. All are in communion – or a reciprocal relationship – with the See of Canterbury and recognize the Archbishop of Canterbury as the Communion’s spiritual head. But there is no central authority in the Anglican Communion. All of the provinces are autonomous and free to make their own decisions in their own ways – guided by recommendations from the four Instruments of the Communion: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council.

One of the most famous Anglicans is Nobel peace prize laureate Desmond Tutu, the former Archbishop of Cape Town who chaired the post-Apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.

Featured Actor

The Interfaith Mediation Centre in Kaduna, Nigeria

In 1995, the Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC) was established by Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye in Kaduna, Nigeria. Once enemies in a deadly conflict during the 1990s, the two faith leaders decided to overcome their differences and join hands in the protection of their communities. The Interfaith Mediation Centre is a non-governmental, community-based organization whose mandate is to promote peace and good governance using a faith-based approach to conflict resolution, mediation and capacity building.

IMC’s vision is an inclusive society, free of violent conflicts between ethnic or religious groups in Nigeria and beyond the country’s borders. They work towards their vision through the promotion of interreligious dialogue, strategic engagement and community-based solutions. Their faith-based approach has provided open-democratic spaces for aggrieved parties to share their grievances openly and honestly to find local solutions to conflict issues—without having solutions imposed on them by outsiders.

IMC pursues a variety of activities and specializes in Muslim-Christian mediation. The Center offers consultation, facilitation, mediation and training tools for community leaders. After the violent conflict following the elections in Kenya in 2007, IMC engaged in the conflict resolution and reconciliation process. The endeavor has been captured in the documentary An African Answer. Furthermore, IMC provides integrated conflict management systems for public entities and is actively engaged in advancing the concept of interreligious harmony and reconciliation through radio and film material about the Kaduna crisis in Nigeria.

Major achievements were the facilitation of the Kaduna Peace Declaration of Religious Leaders in August 2002, which was signed by 22 Christian and Muslim faith leaders and the co-organization of the 4th International Conference for Forum for Cities in Transition in Kaduna in November 2013. To the present, IMC has engaged in over 50 communities throughout Nigeria and beyond, reaching more than 4 million people with their programs.

 

For more information, read an interview with the founders or follow them on Facebook.

 

Events

Faith and Development in the next 60 days

23 - 26 September 2019
ECOTHEE – 2019: 6th International Conference on Ecological Theology and Environmental Ethics, Kolympari Chania, Greece
Under the auspices of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and organized in collaboration with the World Council of Churches, the conference focuses on the role of theology in solving ecological problems.

24 - 25 September 2019
SDG Summit 2019, New York, United States
In the context of United Nations General Assembly, Heads of State and Government follow up and review progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

26 September 2019
Communities of Faith Breakfast: Building Partnerships for a One-Community Response to HIV, New York, United States
Organized by Faith Partners collaborating with UNAIDS and the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the event encourages faith partnerships on achieving HIV epidemic control and justice for children.

30 September 2019
Webinar on the Occasion of the Season of Creation by WEASC, WCC and Bread for the World
The World Evangelical Alliance Sustainability Center, the World Council of Churches and Bread for the World host a webinar “On the Occasion of the Season of Creation – How Churches can Really Engage in Creation Care”. 

28 October 2019
Interfaith Seminary Symposium on Sustainable Behavior, Jerusalem
This symposium, hosted by the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development and partners, will address religious imperatives for promoting environmentally sustainable practices. 

20 - 21 November 2019
The Insights Forum - Working with Religious Actors to Build Peaceful and Stable Societies,
Nairobi, Kenya

Bringing together organizations from Sahel and Sub-Saharan Africa who work with religious actors in the fight against violent extremism, the forum includes panel sessions, presentations and demonstrations aiming to better evidence the impact of the work with religious actors in the field.

Publications

Insights and Perspectives

Study: Partnering with Local Faith Actors to Support Peaceful and Inclusive Societies, By Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities and the PaRD work-stream on SDG 16: , 2019.

It is increasingly recognized that faith-based actors both presently and historically have played a fundamental role in fostering resilience, preventing violent conflict, and sustaining peace. They do so both through theological interpretation and dialogue as well as by providing leadership in action. At the same time, challenges remain in establishing fruitful partnerships between international actors and local faith actors (LFAs). This study seeks to distil learning about the roles played by LFAs in facilitating, leading, and advocating for peaceful and inclusive societies and to provide evidence-based recommendations to guide engagement and partnerships between LFAs and international actors.

Call to Action: Call to Action: The Wuppertal Call – Kairos for Creation – Confessing Hope for the Earth, By Wuppertal Conference on Eco-Theology and the Ethics of Sustainability, 2019.

From 16 to 19 June 2019, participants from 22 countries and from different confessional and faith traditions gathered in Wuppertal, Germany, for a conference titled “Together towards eco-theologies, ethics of sustainability and eco-friendly churches”. The event has resulted in a call to the global ecumenical movement for ecological conversion, a change of heart, mind, attitudes, daily habits and forms of praxis, which has implications for all aspects of Christian life. The signatories call for a decade of ecological learning, confessing and comprehensive action to re-orient the priorities of churches.

Roadmap for Congregations, Communities, and Churches for an Economy of Life and Ecological Justice, World Council of Churches, 2019.

The World Council of Churches invites congregations, communities, and churches to discuss a five-step programme to change the way they deal with the economy and their ecological surroundings with the goal to strive for conscious, just, and sustainable ways of living for the wellbeing of the communities and the planet.

Video: Religions for Peace Video: 10th World Assembly Opening Video 

This video was shown at the opening ceremony of this year’s World Assembly of Religions for Peace in Lindau, Germany, where the religions of the world were called to join hands in addressing the ecological crisis. Religions for Peace envisions a global family of religions working together in unity to fight global problems. The video gives insight into the relevance of interfaith work for peace and highlights the potential of such work illustrating it with examples from Myanmar and Liberia.

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Der Faktor „Glaube“ erfährt zu wenig Beachtung in der globalen Entwicklungszusammenarbeit. Und das, obwohl menschliche Entwicklung untrennbar mit Weltanschauung verwoben ist. Die Gesellschaften und Kulturen, in denen Entwicklungsprojekte umgesetzt werden, sind tief von Glaubenseinflüssen geprägt. Gleichzeitig zählen religiöse Organisationen zu den ältesten und wirkungsmächtigsten Akteuren der globalen wie lokalen Entwicklungszusammenarbeit. Der Faith In Development Monitor leistet einen Beitrag dazu, (1) die Relevanz von Religion für die internationale Entwicklungszusammenarbeit zu verdeutlichen, (2) Religionskompetenz unter Praktikern und politischen Entscheidungsträgern zu erhöhen und (3) aktuelle Entwicklungen im Themenfeld „Religion und Entwicklung“ nachvollziehbar zu erklären.

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Ideen, Worte und Taten für mehr Großartigkeit

Inh.: Matthias Böhning (Dipl.-Oec.), Beratender Betriebs- und Volkswirt

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