THE DIOCESE OF OXFORD IS CALLED TO PROPHETIC ACTION AND ECOLOGICAL REFORMATION
As the Diocese of Oxford gathered for their clergy conference on the theme of Living Waters, they were challenged to be prophetic in actions around climate change and ecological reformation
Rev Rachel Mash was invited from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to share with the Conference as they discussed three themes of Contemplation and Courageous and Compassionate.
Contemplative: We can learn more about God from his fingerprints in nature “All heaven declares the glory of God” Psalm 19 shows us God speaks through Nature and through the written book.
Courageous: Southern Africa is facing the three impacts of climate change : drought, extreme weather events and sea level rise. Capetown faced the possibility of day zero when the taps would be turned off – it is the canary in the mine… We need to take urgent action to combat climate change and reduce our footprint
Compassion: Loretta Mingella former CEO of Christian Aid described the impact of being in the Philippines after the Hurricane . A mother described being washed away with her four children. We need to act in compassion to halt the impact of climate change globally.
Bishop Steven Croft in his daily reflections from Colossians reminded us that all things were created through Christ, all things were created for Christ and all things are saved by Christ.
Rev Chandra Sekhar G shared how the Church of South India is responding to environmental challenges with the Green Schools Programme, tree planting, celebrating World Environmental day, Green Clergy training and earth sermons.
Bishop Ossie Swartz from the Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman shared the impact of water on his Diocese.
The Diocese was challenged to consider an “ecological reformation” in the words of the Volos Declaration:
“Such a reformation cannot be restricted to a recovery of a theology of creation or a call for responsible stewardship. It calls for reflection, discernment, prayer and a transformation of Christian practices that may be harmful to others, to all God’s creatures. It also calls for a rereading of the canonical biblical texts, a critique of the environmental impact of specific Christian traditions and practices, a retrieval of historical insights, figures and practices, a reinvestigation of the content and significance of the Christian faith, a reconsideration of influential symbols, a renewal of Christian communities and a transformation of the ministries and missions of the church. The ecological reformation of Christianity therefore is comprehensive in its scope and needs to extend to Bible study, catechism, teaching, liturgies, hymns, Christian art, pastoral care, ministry and mission alike”
Ernst Conradie: Manifesto for an Ecological Reformation of Christianity
The archdeacons in their visitations will be challenging all parishes to shift to renewable energy sources, to do an electricity audit and to join the Eco-church movement.
Carol Marples of Soul Marks brought art into liturgy with the theme of living water.
In her closing remarks Rev Rachel challenged the Diocese:
Now, in our time, these three rivers—anguish for our world, scientific breakthroughs, and ancestral teachings—flow together. From the confluence of these rivers we drink. We awaken to what we once knew: we are alive in a living Earth, the source of all we are and can achieve. Despite our conditioning by the industrial society of the last two centuries, we want to name, once again, this world as holy. (Richard Rohr)
I believe that the Diocese of Oxford with your deep streams of ancient spirituality and fresh expressions, with your awareness of the challenges of the global community and with courageous leadership are being called to be prophetic – you have the resources of gifted people, just as you are taking the lead with the divestment of fossil fuels, you can take the lead in liturgical renewal, environmental actions, speaking truth to power. God is laying a special call on this Diocese to take the lead to spearhead this new reformation that seeks to renew the face of the earth
Photographs Soul Marks