By The Revd Canon Cate Edmonds
In the Diocesan Prayer Diary this week we have prayed for COP26 and particularly for the implications on the Anglican Province of Melanesia, with which the Diocese of Exeter has strong historical links (see the Related Content section below to find out more).
The Province, one of the many small island states, covers well over one thousand islands, many of which are endangered by climate change and some have already been lost. Imagine returning to your home for Christmas and this is the scene that greets you. My colleague, the Director of Education for the Anglican Communion of Melanesia, returned to his homeland island for Christmas as usual in 2019 to find that his ancestral home had been severely damaged by rising tides. The increasing number of what they term ‘king tides’ were overwhelming his property and ancestral lands.
Climate change is a reality for many of the peoples of these small island states. Climate change caused by industrialised countries thousands of miles away from these beautiful islands.
You may well have started to feel we have heard enough about climate change over the past few weeks, but we must continue to hear about the now climate emergency. Each one of us has a responsibility to work towards a more sustainable and less damaging way of life. We are all called to be good stewards of God’s creation; we can’t leave it up to anyone else or get tired of hearing about it.
I understand that there are over one hundred verses in the Bible referring to stewardship of the earth and consequences of poor management. I found verses from Isaiah 24:5-6 particularly pertinent:
“The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws,
violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
therefore the inhabitants of the earth dwindled, and few people are left.”
The people of the islands of Melanesia, like many others in the South Pacific and in other areas around the world, are dwindling. They are becoming environmental refugees, finding their lands destroyed before their very eyes.
We can’t look away, we can’t rely on others to sort this out. Each one of us by our calling as Christians must work not only to support those in desperate need but also to prevent further decline and ravaging of God’s creation.
A prayer for Melanesia during COP26:
O God of land, sea and sky, hear the cry of your people of Melanesia, for homes and livelihoods destroyed by rising seas and warming earth; caused by ignorance, apathy and selfish greed. Inspire all people of goodwill to work for a change of hearts and minds. We pray that you will enable us to overcome all that destroys and pollutes, and restore a world where all life is sacred. Let the earth be enriched for all its inhabitants and those yet to be born. Amen