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Subthemes - Report of Section I: "Giver of Life - Sustain your Creation"


Excerpts

III. The church: covenanting for the life of all creation

47. The crisis presented by the brokenness of the whole community of life challenges the churches to renew their commitment to justice, peace and the integrity of creation. Churches have the responsibility to translate this commitment in concrete and practical terms.

48. But first we need to confess that we - as a community drawn together by the Holy Spirit - have failed to recognize and therefore fulfill our human responsibility towards creation. Christian teaching and practice, based on misinterpretation of scripture, have reinforced systems and structures of power that deny life. These should be examined and clarified.

49. The church is a sign of "new creation" in Christ, redeemed from brokenness to wholeness, from death to life. As a redeemed community, the church has a crucial role in the renewal of creation. It is the church's prophetic task and the church is called upon to respond with faith, courage and hope.

50. The power of the Holy Spirit enables the church to be a life- giving, healing and sustaining community where the wounded and the broken derive wholeness and renewal. This empowerment provides opportunities to explore just and sustainable social and economic arrange- ments and to discover creative, contextually relevant ways to fulfill this responsibility.

51. A critical examination of the church's faith, polity and structures may be necessary if the spiritual and organizational resources of the church should meet human and ecological needs. This implies a redirec- tion of church policies, priorities and programmes.

52. The understanding of creation theology and of an ethic of economy and ecology should be reflected in the life and work of the church, through its study of the Bible, its teachings, hymns, liturgies, prayers, the institution of the sacraments and through its witness.

53. The task of renewal requires a continuing discemment of God's creative activity in the world, Christ's redemptive act, and the empower- ment of the Holy Spirit that enables us to be faithful. 54. To this end we call upon the WCC member churches all over the world to take urgent action as follows:

Life and worship

55. Reflect on and review our own internal structures, doctrines, policies and practices which affect the environment and influence our behaviour towards the creation.

56. Encourage churches and local congregations to manifest this commitment through worship, particularly in the celebration of the sacraments. For instance, baptism and the eucharist, as a celebration of God's redeeming activity, bring together the elements of the created world. This sacramental perspective should influence our attitude towards creation.

57. Assist people at the congregational level to make choices within their reach, to change life-styles, and to offer alternative patterns of living such as the Gandhian approach. Another recommendation would be to help reduce use of energy and finding alternative forms of energy, recycling waste, etc. in industrialized societies. The Gwatt report on "The Churches' Role in Protecting the Earth's Atmosphere" (1991, p.25) provides further concrete possibilities for action.

Education

58. Reflect concern for the creation in the ecumenical calendar. The WCC should initiate a global decade for justice, peace and the integrity of creation. observed through an annual ten-day celebration, a time of prayer. reflection and action by all member churches.

59. Develop a new understanding of creation theology for all aspects of our churches' life which: - addresses the tensiods within the churches' order, i.e. gender, age, race, class, differences in physical abilities, etc. ;

  • draws upon the special gifts and leams from the value systems of those suffering from oppression;
  • resists, through courage. power, commitment and reflection in the Holy Spirit. those forces and pressures which are harmful to people and destruction of nature:
  • supports those that are already engaged in the process of renewal of the creation;
  • draws upon our own cultures, traditions and local situations
  • pursues questions of the gospel's relationship to cultures.

60. Develop and implement educational programmes (information, education and communication), both in churches and in other communities, on issues related to environmental and ecological concerns.

This should include the matter of responsible stewardship of human fertility and should lead to an appreciation of and reverence for creation.

61. Study, reflect upon and address with sensitivity, ethical issues concerning biotechnology (including genetic engineering), prolonging of life, euthanasia, surrogate motherhood, etc.

Advocacy

62. Continue the Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation process as a framework for study and action on these issues. This should be part of a global ecumenical movement towards reordering our personal and corporate life-styles, our relationships with nature and the ecological reorientation of our overall economic system. For continuing the JPIC process in these ways the WCC should be a centre of exchange in which initiatives and contributions of member churches are shared and brought together.

63. Send a delegation composed of church representatives from the eight regions of the world to attend the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), to be held in June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. lt is the first time since 1972 that such a world conference is being held to discuss, on a global level, the burning environmental issues (of today, the preparation of a convention on protection of global climate and the link between environment and international trade. We work together with world religions in designing, a common process towards UNCED, and in drawing up a universal declaration of human obligations towards nature, Such a universal declaration would acknowledge that human beings are part of creation as a whole and that we have an obligation to be instruments of God's design for creation.

64. Act together in defence of life. Facilitate and encourage the participation of people against the powers of oppression and destruction. Build a network of churches and Christians to facilitate exchange, cooperation, and appropriate collective action in the fields of ecology and economy.

65. Renew study of the international economic order including the need for new conceptual models based on cooperation, not on competition. Pursue initiatives to relieve those countries which continue to suffer from their critically heavy debt burdens. Highlight the plight of poor women and children who are always hit the hardest.

66. Urge the concerned member churches in the South and in the North to address and develop coordinated action on problems of sex tourism, nuclear testing, toxic waste dumping, global warming, fishing, mining, etc. to make their members aware of the direct consequences of these practices; to dialogue with their governments and concemed cor porations to stop such actions; and to influence appropriate legislation for the protection of the environment and of human life.

67. Campaign against the militarization of regions (such as the Pacific) for the protection of human life and for the preservation of the environment. On the intemational level, campaign for the abolition of the institution of war.

Redirection of programmes

68. Develop programmes to combat environmental degradation which include concerns about creation, economy and development, and establish plans of action at the regional and global levels.

69. Address the issue of science and technology in order to work towards the development of technology which is suitable and appropriate to the needs of the majority of the people, particularly of poor women and children, the carriers of wood and water all over the world.

70. Give continued attention to the relationship of faith, science and technology, exploring possibilities for continuing consultation involving scientists, theologians and others.

Michael Kinnamon (ed.):World Council of Churches. Signs of the Spirit. Official Report Seventh Assembly. Canberra, Australia, 7-20 February 1991; Geneva (WCC Publications) 1991, ISBN 2-8254-1000-4; Grand Rapids (Eerdmans) 1991, ISBN 0-8028-0628-7. pp. 67 - 70


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