Global Anglican Congress
on the Stewardship of Creation
Declaration to the Anglican Communion
Good Shepherd Retreat Centre
South Africa, August 18-23, 2002
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we
greet you and speak to you in the
name of our Trinitarian God, Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit: Creator, Redeemer,
and Life Giver.
We write as representatives
of the provinces of the Anglican Communion
gathered in response to the planetary
crisis and immediately prior to the
World Summit on Sustainable Development.
With the blessing of the Archbishop
of Canterbury, the General Secretary
of the Anglican Consultative Council,
and the chair of the Anglican Consultative
Council, our purpose is to consider
the Communion's responsibilities to
God and God's creation at this critical
time. At the last Lambeth Conference
in 1998 our Bishops again identified
the environment as one of the key
moral and religious issues of our
time and their principles have been
part of our reflection.
We have come together
as a community of faith. Creation
calls us, our vocation as God's redeemed
drives us, the Spirit in our midst
enlivens us, scripture compels us.
were you when I laid the foundations
of the earth? Tell me if you have
understanding. Job 38:4
things came into being through him,
and without him not one thing came
into being. John 1:3
know the whole creation has been groaning
in labour pains until now. Romans
Our planetary crisis
is environmental, but it is more than
that. It is a crisis of the Spirit
and the Body, which runs to the core
of all that we hold sacred. It is
characterized by deep poverty: impoverished
people, an impoverished Earth. As
people of faith, Christ draws us together
to share responsibility for this crisis
with all humanity.
In the twentieth century,
the human impact on the earth increased
enormously. In the last thirty years
alone, human activity has destroyed
many of the planet's natural resources.
Climate change, flooding, habitat
destruction, desertification, pollution,
urban expansion, and famine have all
played their part. A third of all
fish species and a quarter of all
mammal species are in danger of extinction.
One billion people now suffer from
a shortage of fresh water. Scientists
have said the web of life is unraveling.
People must be willing to face change
and participate actively in the decisions
before us all. Unjust economic structures
have taken from people and the land
without giving in return, putting
at risk all life that is sustained
by the planet. Greed and over-consumption,
which have dictated so much of economic
development in the past, must be transformed
into generosity and compassion. Transformation
is, at its heart, a spiritual matter;
it includes every aspect of our lives.
As members of the Anglican Communion,
at all levels of its life, we must
play our part in bringing about this
transformation toward a just, sustainable
future. Now is the time for prayerful
action based on the foundation of
In 1998, the Bishops
of the Anglican Communion resolved
to face these challenges and provided
the scriptural and theological justification
for the involvement of the Church
in caring for creation. We recognize
this and other ongoing work of people
in the communion. Such work needs
our support. However, it is not enough.
We urge you to acknowledge
the gravity of our call to prayer
and action. Both individuals and decision-making
bodies of the Church at all levels
need to be actively involved in addressing
these problems. As brothers and sisters
in Christ's Body and as fellow Anglicans
seeking to fulfill our baptismal covenant
and witness to the power of the Holy
Spirit in Christ, we ask you, in your
parishes, dioceses, or provinces,
acting at the most appropriate level,
and in cooperation with ecumenical
and interfaith partners wherever possible
to undertake the following:
- To acknowledge
that the Church's mission must now
take place in the context of a life
and death planetary crisis whose
impact affects all aspects of the
Church's life and mission.
- To bring prayers
and actions concerning ecology,
environmental justice, human rights,
and sustainable development to the
forefront of public worship as well
as private and corporate reflections
on the Holy Scriptures.
- To support the
struggle of indigenous peoples to
maintain their cultural heritage,
natural heritage, and human rights.
- To encourage all
members of our congregations to
understand that God calls us to
care for the creation by making
our communities and environments
better places for the next generation
than they were in our lifetime.
- To actively support
initiatives in all Churches and
communities that are concerned with
the planetary crisis.
- To help publicize
and network information, developments,
events, publications and all sources
of knowledge among our friends,
neighbours, congregation members,
Church leaders, and government officials.
- To encourage links
among our provinces, dioceses, and
parishes worldwide to increase understanding
of the many issues involved and
how they are interrelated.
- To support opportunities
for younger people to experience
first-hand how people in their own
and other congregations and communities
are affected by the planetary crisis
and how they can work to change
the world in which they live.
- To promote training
and educational programs in all
aspects of the planetary crisis
even as they relate to our worship
and community life.
- To encourage diligently
our secular and Church leaders,
lay and ordained, in all parts of
the Anglican Communion to place
the planetary crisis at the highest
level of their concerns.
- To encourage and
support public policies that reflect
the principles of sustainable community.
- To request all
bodies within the communion to undertake
an environmental audit and take
appropriate action on the basis
of the results. To commit ourselves
both to energy conservation and
the use of sustainable energy sources.
- To demonstrate
simplicity of lifestyle in our patterns
of consumption to counteract greed
and over-consumption. Such greed
dictates so much of our economic
past that it must be transformed
into generosity and compassion.
Christ has no hands
but ours, and he calls us to offer
ourselves to share in his work of
healing and reconciliation so that
all creation may know that, "The
truth shall set you free."
Respectfully submitted on behalf of
the Global Anglican Congress,
Archdeacon Taimalelagi Fagamalama
Anglican Observer at the United Nation