CHURCHES in Britain on Tuesday joined in prayers dedicated to the environment.
The Church of England’s lead bishop in this area, the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, urged Anglicans on 1 September to "stop, fast, think, and pray about the need to care for God’s good but fragile creation".
Bishop Holtam said: "Whatever the scientific, economic, and political difficulties, at root this is a spiritual problem. Prayer helps clarify what we want, and strengthens our determination for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven."
A coalition of British Churches and charities has thrown its weight behind the day of prayer and fasting. The Faith for the Climate network, which includes the C of E, the Methodists, the Baptists, Christian Aid, Tearfund, the United Reformed Church, Operation Noah, and Us. (formerly USPG), has supported the concept.
An announcement that the C of E had joined other Churches in dedicating 1 September to prayer for the environment followed the news that Pope Francis had set aside the day as the "World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation" for the Roman Catholic Church. The day has been established in the Orthodox Church as a day of prayer for the environment since 1989.
Pope Francis announced that the RC Church would be joining the long-standing Orthodox day of prayer in August. In a letter to the presidents of both the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, he wrote that Christians should try to resolve the world’s "ecological crisis" by using 1 September to reflect on how they could change their lifestyle.
The Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, who is also chairman of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN), also joined the fast. He said that he was fasting in solidarity with children going hungry as food prices rose, and those who had lost their homes and livelihoods because of climate change.
A series of videos from Anglican bishops around the world explaining how climate change and destruction of the environment is affecting their communities have also been released by ACEN.
In one, the Bishop of Davao in the Philippines, the Rt Revd Jonathan Casimina, described how extreme storms and typhoons were becoming more and more common, and were causing widespread devastation. "Climate justice is the people’s demand," he said. "If we partake of the eucharist, we must be willing to become eucharist for others, blessed, broken, and given."
Closer to home, some Christians also used 1 September as a day for education and activism, not just prayer and fasting. Churches Together in Settle, North Yorkshire, organised two Walks for Creation.
Led by an assistant curate at Holy Ascension, Settle, the Revd Stephen Dawson, the walks included several moments to pause for meditation and discussion about climate justice and caring for the earth.