“PROPHETIC INDIGENOUS VOICES ON THE PLANETARY CRISIS”-
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is under threat. It is known by the Gwich’in people as “the Sacred place where life begins” – they treat it as holy, not even stepping on it- for it is the calving area of the porcupine Caribou herd. As one activist said “we have always depended on the caribou, now the caribou are depending on us.” The Gwich’in people are mostly Anglican/Episcopalian.
Indigenous communities around the world are the frontline communities facing climate change and biodiversity loss – for they live high risk environments. They include nomadic herders living on desert margins, fishers in small and low-lying islands, hunters across the Arctic, and dwellers of the forests. Archbishop Mark Macdonald says “ whatever hits society at large, be it climate change, epidemics, or other disasters, usually hits the First Peoples hardest” . In many of these communities there is a strong Anglican presence.
Hurricane Eta crashed into Central America, followed by Hurricane Iota, and Archbishop Julio describes the impact on the indigenous communities in the region “ Those impacted communities are left with no homes, no land to produce, no way to sustain their families. We need to listen to indigenous groups when they call us to respect Mother Earth and to care for her, because Mother Earth provides for us”.
However, not only are indigenous communities at the forefront of environmental disasters, they hold the key to protecting the Earth. For they are protectors of the land – recent research demonstrates that although the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples make up less than five percent of the total human population, they manage or hold tenure over 25 percent of the world’s land surface and support about 80 percent of global biodiversity. Forty percent of environmental protectors who have been murdered are from indigenous communities. Not only do they protect some of the most pristine areas on the planet, they offer a worldview which counteracts the raging consumerism that has plunged the planet into this tragedy.
At the launch of the Anglican Eco-Bishops movement, the “The world is our host” statement ( shttps://acen.anglicancommunion.org/media/148818/The-World-is-our-Host-FINAL-TEXT.pdf) said the following: “We believe that the voices of Indigenous peoples, whose relationship with creation remains integral to their spirituality and relationship with God, is of central importance to ongoing ministry on climate justice”.
In the words of Bishop Nick Drayson from Northern Argentina “We must listen to their voice, like the canary in the mine, as their awareness of the delicate balance in ecosystems is instinctive, and affects not just whole tribal communities, but also the climate which surrounds the global village”.
We would like to invite you to join this Global conversation with the Indigenous Anglican Communities. We will hear stories of lament, of loss of homelands, rising seas, deforestation, racism, hunger and poverty . But we will also hear stories of resilience, of community, and world view that can heal this planet.
Five months ago eleven Archbishops and sixty Bishops from across the Communion signed the “environmental racism” statement (https://www.greenanglicans.org/environmental-racism-when-blacklives-dont-matter/) . Many of the signatories were indigenous bishops as their communities are at the forefront of environmental degradation by mining companies and land grabbers. They experience racism and even genocidal attitudes. And so a conversation began between the Anglican Communion Environmental Network and the Anglican Indigenous Network about how best to share their stories with the Communion globally. As the discussion continued, we realised that although the story that should be told starts with a lament, it leads to a vision of hope, of prophetic indigenous voices guiding us and leading us into a new relationship with Creation.
In the dark space of the triple pandemics of COVID-19, Climate change and biodiversity loss, may these webinars offer light in the darkness and hope in despair – a fitting message for Advent.
Each Monday during Advent we invite you to join a discussion in a time zone that suits you – each week a video will be shown from a different region– starting with a sacred moment of prayer and worship, sharing stories of lament, but moving to a prophetic offering indigenous worldviews that offers hope in our consumerist, materialist world. Local hosts will lead breakaway groups for in depth discussion and reflection on what we have learned.
On the 30th of November the series will start with the voice of Aotearoa (New Zealand and Polynesia). Students from the three Tikangas of St. John’s Theological College weave songs and prayers. Archbishop Winston Halapua Emeritus will share stories of lament due to the impact of rising oceans. Theologians voices woven by Dr Emily Colgan explore the theme of guardianship. Fe’íloakitau Kaho Tevi from Fiji brings stories of hope
On the 7th of December we will move to Africa and hear of the particular impact of climate change and drought on women, protectors of the water. We will learn how Africa has sacrificed food production on the altars of oil, and given up traditional drought resistant crops for corporate seeds. Through music and story telling we will hear voices of hope from across the continent including Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya of Swaziland and Dr Kapya Kaoma of Zambia.
On the 14th of December we will hear from the Diocese of Amazonas, of deforestation and attacks on forest protectors, and of the indigenous world view that can offering healing to a broken world. Bishop Marinez Bassotto is joined by voices from the Manaus area.
On the 21st we will hear voices from the Arctic who tell of the catastrophic losses that are occurring. We will also learn from the world view that offers hope to our consumerist society . Voices will include Archbishop Mark Macdonald, the Very Rev. Jonas Allooloo, Inuit, living in Iqaluit, Nunavut (Canada) and Risten Turi Aleksandersen, Sami, head of the Sami Church Council, Norway.
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.
We welcome you once, we welcome you twice, we welcome you three times.
Canon Rachel Mas
Secretary, Anglican Communion Environmental Network
The seminars have been organised by the Anglican Indigenous Network, the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, in partnership with the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), Anglican Alliance, IEAB (Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil) and the Episcopal Church(TEC) .
Please find a link below for the best time and language choice that suits you
15:00 New Zealand time (GMT +13) in English
Registration link: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0ode2rqz8rH9dEbrMs6OuPtGPTk2NphV10
16:00 East Africa Time (GMT +3) in English and Portuguese
Register at: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUlceitqDsoEtwblH29zsreAt5-%20%20X9Kgz7Xs
20:00 BRT (GMT-3) in Spanish, Portuguese and English
Registration link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kwJ1rTUtQX-RHBqrIXnH2w
16:00 ET / 13:00 PT (GMT -5) in English
Registration link: https:/zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMkc-mprjgoG9TF9XiDjRiuNaqmb0TlK0zD
For more information go to