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US General Convention: statement agreed on importance of climate change

15 July 2022

General Convention Office livestream

On Monday, Bishop Andrus (left) introduces the group of bishops who worked on the climate crisis statement

On Monday, Bishop Andrus (left) introduces the group of bishops who worked on the climate crisis statement

CLIMATE change is the overarching social-justice issue of our time, and environmental stewardship is “our first vocation”, the US House of Bishops has said in a statement on the final day of the General Convention.

The “Mind of the House” statement is not a resolution, but Bishops asked that it be read out at the Lambeth Conference later this month.

It says that climate change and the destruction of the natural environment are “manifestations of our turning away from God”, and that all other issues of social justice depend on the health of the planet.

The idea for the statement originated with the Bishop of California, the Rt Revd Marc Andrus, who said: “Everything that this body is so deeply concerned about is made worse or better depending on the health of the planet in which we live. We’ve never said that as a body.”

A group of bishops revised a text that he put forward overnight, and it was agreed on Monday.

The statement links the climate emergency with the growing crises of war, famine, and the mass displacement of people occurring around the world.

It says: “A changing climate and degraded environment worsen conflict, forces human migration, and causes food insecurity. These related crises increase the rate of violence, cause more natural disasters and humanitarian crises, and deepen the wounds of those already suffering from racism. People living in poverty are plunged further into poverty by the deteriorating condition of the planet.

“As people of faith, we are not without hope, but the sustainability of God’s creation demands our action. Confronting climate change and environmental degradation has never been more urgent. As members of the Episcopal Church, we are committed in baptism to resist evil, seek God’s will, treat all people with dignity, and strive for justice and peace. Living into these promises, we must face the climate crisis for the sake of love of God and neighbor.

“If we hope to treat all human beings with dignity, we must address climate change so droughts, floods, and extreme weather patterns don’t force people into exile and desperate, life-threatening migration.

“If we hope to build peace, we must address climate change so that competition for scarce resources does not drive further violence.

“If we hope to ensure that every child of God has enough to eat, we must address climate change so that our bountiful earth can continue to support and sustain food systems that nourish people and the soil.”

The statement pledges that the Church will “lead the way for change, model good stewardship, and move forward with courage and purpose”.

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