An international conference on churches in Southern Africa as Civil Society Actor for Ecological Sustainability was held in the University of Pretoria on 28th to 31st October 2019. This conference was blessed with the presence of presenters from Academia (both science and theology), environmental expects in the corporate world, environmental networks and organizations from faith and non-faith based organizations, clergy from across all Christian Ecumenism.
Worth noting is that in this conference the Green Anglicans movement had four Green Anglicans champions (from South Africa, Eswatini, Malawi and Zimbabwe) that were representing their various organization.
In the panel of presenters was Charles Bakolo who was representing Malawi Creation Care Network and the Green Anglicans Malawi In his presentation he outlined how deforestation in Malawi had deprived the beauty of the country that was attracting tourists. He further outlined the measures that are taken by Green Anglican to curbe the situation whre they are running a number of campaigns namely one-tree-one-confirmation, one tree-one-holy-matrimony just to mention a few. He further presented how as Green Anglicans and Malawi Creation Care Network in Malawi had engaged the government on the issues of plastic pollution which led to the ban of single use plastics in Malawi. His presentation got positive feedback and the participants requested that the creation care liturgies must be shared to them as they are interested to follow these in their various congregations.
Mncedisi Masuku from the Diocese of Swaziland was directly representing Green Anglicans and he shared some projects and programmes by the Green Anglicans movement such as Clean-up campaigns, tree planting campaigns, season of creation, available liturgical resources (including the youth manual and Ryan the Rhino) and how the Green Anglicans partners with other organizations on creation care among others. Most of the people who attended the table for Green Anglicans were impressed by the good work by Green Anglicans. It was recommended that an evaluation of the Green Anglicans project be made to share with other denominations.
Kate Davies and Lydia from SAFCEI both had different slots to present in the conference and were seen making reference to project and liturgical materials by the Green Anglicans which also shown that the Anglican Church indeed is doing a lot on Ecological justice and creation care.
Rev Sam Sifelani represented the Zimbabwe Council of Churches and presented a bottom up approach of how the church can have influence from Grassroots in communities up to civil/organized society and way up to policy makers.
One other key conference highlight was the public lecture by his Grace the Right Reverend Dr. B.E. Lekganyane, Bishop of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC). He presented on the topic, “Ecological Sustainability as a topic of redemption within the theology of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC). The Bishop highlighted that the ZCC church is concerned about ecological sustainability and have seen the effects of climate change such as drought and is concerned about peace and justice in the world. The Bishop declared that the church is opened for more innovative solution and partnership on the subject. African initiated independent churches especially the indigenous churches have been viewed as not paying attention on ecological issues thus the lecture by the Bishop was key milestone in efforts of the church on ecological justice and sustainability.
There was a lot that was presented by other organizations and speakers which collectively shown that the church has an advantaged position to bring positive change on ecological issues. The conference had seen the need to come out with a manual on ecological sustainability which includes theological perspective to address environmental issues.