Bishop Paul Sarker is the Moderator of the Church of Bangladesh which was formed after the independence of Bangladesh, it is a united church comprising the Anglican, Presybterian and other churches.
He sees the Church’s social development programme as a natural extension of the Church. Once when I was young priest, the Bishop sent me to a place where there was a big flood. The people there were suffering; they didn’t have seeds to produce crops and things like that. So I was doing some survey work and they asked where I was from. I said I was from the Church. So they said “ok then you can do something for us, but many others have come, one after one, they told us this and that, but they never came back.” They knew the Church would come back.
One area of work close to his heart is the Church of Bangladesh Social Development Programme.. They work on education and health and now increasingly on cyclone relief and disaster management.
Bangladesh is one of the countries most threatened by sea level rise, as it is in one of the most unprotected countries. So climate change will have a direct impact on the people of the Church of Bangladesh and their communities.
The Social Development Program has created a publication, written by James Pender, entitled “Climate Change, Its Impacts and Possible Community Based Responses in Bangladesh” with the goal of building climate resistant communities in order to reduce the loss of life and livelihood and problems caused by climate change. The program is working to improve disaster management and food security, increase tree planting, and develop better irrigation including a new method of crop irrigation in saline water. They have identified the training of clergy, lay leaders, staff and group members as integral to development. They recognize that it is also important to raise awareness and mobilization to protect the natural resources and gain control of consuming excess electricity, water and other detrimental habits.
The main threats faced by the Church are risks of flooding, as sea level rises with the more persistent and stronger storms seen today. Increasing the salinity of soil and drinking water, the tidal surges deposit salt water inundating inland- resulting in crops not growing and a lack of drinking water through most of the year. Damaging flooding is also seen during the rainy season, heavy rainfall caused by the flooding of Himalayan rivers filled with sand and silt. These floods wash away human habitation, crop fields and markets. Droughts are caused in the Northwest because of the extremes of heat. Bangladesh is under serious threat from climate change.
Bishop Sarker will be joining a group of Eco-bishops under the leadership of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba to discuss how the Anglican Communion can take up the challenge of climate change.
(quotes from http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/interviews/a-discussion-with-bishop-paul-sarker-moderator-church-of-bangladesh-bishop-of-dhaka)