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Anglican Gathering, Melbourne 2016

February 12, 2016

Ash Wednesday Climate Justice Forum

Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly;
gather the people.

Joel 2.15-16 

On 10 February 2016 Anglicans gathered at Trinity College in Melbourne to pray, listen and talk about care of creation and climate justice. 

The Ash Wednesday Climate Justice Forum was organised by the Anglican Alliance, the Anglican Board of Mission (ABM), the Public Affairs Commission, and Anglican Overseas Aid. 

The participants came from across Australia and the world. 

They were diverse; young and old, from the inner city and the country, priests and SRC (Social Responsibility Committees) members, scientists and aid workers, church workers, volunteers and lay people.

The Forum heard Rose Elu from the Torres Strait Islands and Tagolyn Kabekabe from the Solomon Islands describe the effect climate change is currently having on their communities and the communities’ responses.

Eco-theologian, Mick Pope, talked about theology and the science of climate change and Professor Neil Ormerod from the Australia Catholic University presented on Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ bold encyclical on Care for our Common Home.

Ncumisa Magadla, pictured above, described the vibrant activities of the Green Anglicans – the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s Environmental Network.  These included a Carbon Fast for Lent and the expectation that confirmation candidates successfully nurture a seed during their 18 month preparation process.

Throughout the day participants discussed what they had heard and shared what was happening in their various parts of the church.

In the afternoon the forum addressed what the Anglican Church in Australia should do in response to the challenge of climate change. 

There was a consensus that it was a key priority for the church in our time.

Suggested responses included creative liturgy, planting gardens, solar panels, theological teaching, partnerships between churches, divestment from fossil fuels, a clear connection between climate change and poverty in development work, prophetic advocacy and developing a new language to describe the vital place of the fifth Mark of Mission into the broader theological story. 

Bishop Stephen Pickard concluded the day, speaking about the Bonds of Affection which enable Anglicans to engage with Climate justice globally.

Rev’d Andy Bowerman, the Co-Director of the Anglican Alliance, flew in from England to facilitate the Forum.  He is taking the results of the forum to the upcoming meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Zambia.

ABM Education Officer, Celia Kemp, said “praying, listening and talking to people from vastly different circumstances who share a deep love for God’s creation and are acting to care for it brought hope into an area where there is often nothing but a sense of futility and despair.”

More information on the Climate Change Forum, including presenations, and the Anglican Gathering in general, can be found at .