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Bishop of Norwich speaks ahead of COP26 visit 

In an interview ahead of attending the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow this weekend, the Bishop of Norwich, Graham Usher, explained why he believes caring for God’s creation is a fundamental part of Christian discipleship.

“I believe that creation care is an integral part of being a Christian, because we are called by God to tread gently on this earth to steward and care for creation. In our Christian lives, we need to mirror something of that, taking time to pause, to have Sabbath rest, to see all around us these amazing resources, to care for them, to attend to them, to protect them; not just for ourselves, not just for future generations, but for the integrity of the whole of God’s creation.”
A former ecologist, Bishop Graham also leads the Church of England’s environmental programme, has a special interest in forestry and has written a book about the spirituality of landscapes.
“I’m hugely privileged to be part of the Anglican Communion’s environmental network, which has involved travelling to different parts of the Communion, “ he said.
“I have kept meeting bishops, clergy and lay people talking to me about the impact of climate change. So, whether that has been in the Amazon, where I was fortunate to canoe along part of the river Amazon, with the Bishop of the Amazon, at that time, seeing the effects of climate change on indigenous communities, or in Tanzania, in the Diocese of Morogoro, seeing the failure of a crop harvest and the impact on people’s lives, on the prices in the markets.”
Bishop Graham said the people of the planet who are in the most economically precarious situations due to climate change, have not caused the problem. “It’s caused by the wealthy, more oil-consuming parts of the world. So, climate change, and our response to it as Christians is a key part of our sense of justice. We’re called by God, to live lives that speak into places of injustice, places of economic poverty, places where people are being affected.”
“When you look at some of the major conflicts around the world, the environmental factors are somewhere in the roots of most of them. When you look at migration around the world, and refugees, environmental factors are often at the heart of them.”
He said bishops around the Anglican Communion needed to come together to support and pray for each other. “We need to find ways in which we can respond in really positive ways to halt this climate emergency, the huge devastation of biodiversity that we’re seeing around us. In my own life, in just 50 years, in the UK, half of the biomass of our biodiversity has been lost. That’s got to stop. And we’ve got to find ways in which natural capital can enhance all our lives again.”
Bishop Graham said 2021 is year with huge opportunities for change and although the G7 summit in Cornwall had not delivered on the promises many had hoped for, the next opportunity will be COP26 in Glasgow. The bishop believes faith communities have an incredible opportunity to speak into the whole agenda, drawing on their extensive tradition and experience to influence their communities and the governments of their nations.
“One of the most powerful things that I’ve found has been to tell stories about how climate change is already impacting on people’s lives across the Anglican Communion. It’s often in the telling of those stories that our policymakers and politicians are really attuned to what is being said.”
“I would encourage church communities to be praying, first of all, for a very positive result at COP26. But above all, please pray for the urgent changes that we need to see to protect habitats, to protect the world, as we move forward to keep the temperature of the globe below the 1.5 degree sea level.”
Along with praying for change, he said inspiring people through teaching about engaging with God’s creation is also vital. “It’s casting a vision of something glorious, so that people then change how they’re living and the amount of carbon footprint that we’re leaving behind, because we want to tend this glorious creation that we share… that’s been entrusted to us by God.”
To read the full article visit Lambeth Conference.
Pictured above is the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham Usher. (c) Diocese of Norwich

Keith Morris, 30/10/2021

Keith Morris
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