7. Ecological perspectives on mission
Tackling ecological issues of climate change and global warming is on the agenda of most mission organisations, and learning to look at mission from the point of view of the earth and its peoples is a vital part of Christian witness in this situation. This page features groups which are taking an ecological perspective on mission and includes links to Christian organisations highlighting ecological concerns.
'Creation at the heart of mission': SEDOS JPIC Seminar, 12-16 May 2009
Fr Denis Edwards, Fr Sean McDonagh SSC, Sr Leonor de la Santa FFM, and Francis Orthard CJ were the main speakers at the SEDOS (Service of Documentation and Study on Global Mission) seminar on Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) in Assisi on 12-16 May 2009. SEDOS is one of six Roman Catholic institutions working on Edinburgh 2010 themes.
Under the main theme 'Creation at the Heart of Mission', the seminar looked at the mission theology of creation under the following headings.
1. Science and theology: the story of the universe
2. Ecology and Jesus Christ: ecological conversion
3. Eucharist and ecology
4. Final redemption of all things
It also included presentation of environmental projects and experiences.
Papers presented, together with several Powerpoints, are available for download in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French here.
Climate protection as a human right: United Evangelical Mission (UEM)
The United Evangelical Mission (UEM), a communion of churches in three continents, regards climate protection as a human right. Dr. Jochen Motte, member of the Management Team of UEM and head of the UEM department 'Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation' explains: 'Climate change is an issue of justice. This means to choose the option for the poor, to stand up for the victims of the climate change and to help them enforce their rights.'
For further information about UEM's mission approach to climate change in English, German and French, click here.
Christian Faith and the Earth Symposium 2012
Christian Faith and the Earth is an international, collaborative research project on ecology and Christian doctrine led by Dr. Ernst Conradie, Department of Religion and Theology, University of the Western Cape, South Africa, which is working toward a symposium in 2012. It has 14 working groups, each working on different areas of Christian doctrine, and there is an open invitation to participate. Find out more at the project website here.
CFE Working Group 5 'Where on Earth Is the Church?' has prepared a questionnaire and discussion paper for individual Christians and local churches. Download the Questionnaire (MS Word file) here and email your response to Dr. Tim Cadman (email@example.com), University of Southern Queensland, Australia.
A planet in peril - the oikos alternative: Southern African Missiological Society conference, 14-16 January 2009
On 14-16 January 2009 the Southern African Missiological Society held one of a series of conferences related to Edinburgh 2010 themes. Speakers included Dr. Sam Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches. This mission conference was unusual in that the morning devotions comprised reflections on the role of trees in scripture and society. This culminated in the planting of an olive tree by the delegates on the final morning of the congress. Watch this space for further information from this event.
The following articles have been put forward for this topic:
'The Church in the Eco-Crisis', Rev. Clive Ayre
Paper presented at 'Christian Mission in the Public Square', a conference of the Australian Association for Mission Studies and the Public and Contextual Theology Research Centre of Charles Sturt University, Canberra, 2-5 October 2008
My aim is to consider the role of the Christian Church in the context of what is an increasingly obvious global environmental crisis, and concerning which a great deal has been said in recent years.
My essential argument is that the Church has an important role to play in addressing the crisis, and that such a role is based not on a pragmatic response to the situation, but rather that it rises out of the theology of the Church. With community concern about the environment steadily rising, and whether or not the community expects anything of the Christian community, it hardly needs to be said that the Church must do its theology on this issue in a very public place. The fact that there is a perceived environmental crisis that is exercising scientists, governments, and many other people and groups, including the Christian Church, means that there are few issues more important for public, practical mission theology than this. The interface between faith and science is a case in point, and the potential for a constructive partnership is significant. I believe there is truth in Moltmann's perception that science and theology are entering a new phase of partnership. As he expressed it, "The sciences have shown us how to understand creation as nature. Now theology must show science how nature is to be understood as creation" (1985, p.38).
I argue that the emerging theology and practice of eco-mission opens up a most important aspect of the overall mission of the Church, especially in the public square. The fact of an increasingly obvious environmental problem sharpens the focus of that mission, and offers scope for cooperation across some of the normal divisions; but the driving force of eco-mission, I contend, is distinctly theological. Where then is the Church in the eco-crisis? As I see it, by divine calling the Church is in the midst of it, with the potential to make a positive difference. The good news is that eco-mission appears to be starting up all over the country. The challenge is perhaps best expressed by Conradie, who suggested that what is needed is "a fundamental change of heart, a metanoia", and in the call, as those made in the image of God, to care for creation.
More to come...
The following links are suggested for further research on this topic. Edinburgh 2010 does not accept responsibility for their content.
- SEDOS Service of Documentation and Study on Global Mission, JPIC Seminar 2009
- A Rocha, a Christian nature conservation organisation
- World Council of Churches project on Climate Change and Water
- UEM (United Evangelical Mission) work on Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation
- European Christian Environmental Network, part of the Council of European Churches
- Christian Faith and the Earth research project on ecology and Christian doctrine
- Operation Noah, British campaign group focusing on Climate Change
- Christian Ecology Link, a UK-based group with online resources
- 'The entrepreneurial life', blog of Mark Russell, Director of Spiritual Integration at HOPE International, a microfinance network.
The following publications specific for mission have been recommended on this topic:
- Witnessing in the Midst of a Suffering Creation - a Challenge for the Mission of the Church, Report and papers from an International Consultation at the John Knox Centre, Geneva, from 17 to 21 September, 2006. John Knox Series Vol. 19, Vols. 1 & 2 (Geneva: John Knox Publications, 2007. Available from http://www.johnknox.ch/Publications.htm)
- The following articles presented at the conference of the British and Irish Association for Mission Studies in 2006 on 'Christian mission and environmental justice' were published in the journal of the International Association for Mission Studies (www.missionstudies.org), Mission Studies 25/1 (2008): Dave Bookless, ‘Christian Mission and Environmental Issues: An Evangelical Reflection’, pp. 37-52; Celia Deane-Drummond, ‘Response to Christian Mission and Environmental Issues: An Evangelical Reflection’, pp. 53-55; Philip Knights, ‘“The Whole Earth My Altar”: A Sacramental Trajectory for Ecological Mission’, pp. 56-72; Celia Deane-Drummond, ‘Response to “The Whole Earth My Altar” by Philip Knights’, pp. 73-76. See also Dave Bookless, Planetwise: Dare to Care for God's World (Nottingham, UK: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008).
If you wish to participate by sharing what you or your group is doing on this topic, please send information, documents, papers and suggested links to the Edinburgh 2010 Research Coordinator, Dr. Kirsteen Kim, firstname.lastname@example.org.