Praying for Creation: Episcopal Climate Action at #COP23

Praying for Creation: Episcopal Climate Action at #COP23

By: 
Nathan Empsall

Week Two TeamThings are in full service at the annual UN climate conference in Bonn, Germany! Week One has ended and several members of the Presiding Bishop’s delegation have flown home, and several more have arrived for Week Two. Bishop Marc and Sheila Andrus have continued on in their ministry and commitment to anchor our team for the full two weeks, as they did in Paris and Marrakech.

Stewardship of the environment is one of three mission goals of the Episcopal Church for this triennium, or three years in between General Conventions. His delegation to COP23 has carried this message to the United Nations as we engage in worship, advocacy, and networking on the issue of climate change.

This blog post will give you a look at our worship. Keep an eye out for more information about climate advocacy and climate networking!

Worship

We begin every day at COP23 with an interfaith service of chant, reflection, and prayer, sometimes at the World Conference Center and sometimes at the nearby St. Cyprian’s Old Catholic Church. This year, we have focused on three worship values: Ambition, Personhood, and Letting Go. Bishop Marc Andrus leads the team in meditating on images related to these values, reading Scripture, singing Taize and other chants, discussing the thoughts that arise, and then linking those thoughts to action. The question that focuses our discussion is: How does this spiritual value inform our climate action?

Here are the reflection images for Ambition, Personhood, and Letting Go:

Ambition Personhood Letting Go

Bishop Marc explained these three values in a Facebook Live video, which you can watch here.

Delegation member Perry Hodgins Jones has been writing reflections based on these services. Here’s what she had to say about Monday’s service on personhood:

“On the first day the sun appeared in over a week, a handful of Episcopalians made our way from a quiet subway stop in Bonn, Germany, into Saint Cyprian’s Old Catholic church. The community of that church generously allowed us to use and share that space for worship while our delegation is here over the two weeks. In a small round chapel off to the side of the entrance, we chanted together with Tom Poyner playing the hammer dulcimer. Bishop Marc Andrus introduced today's Spiritual Value, which is "Personhood."

If we are to imagine this image of a globe as a focusing of personhood, we imagine the power of seeing Christ (the Incarnation) in each other and in all those we meet. Our group reflected on scripture, literature, personal experiences, and politics in our examples of Personhood. C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Ted Chiang, Native American lifeways, and other inspirations were featured in our discussions. We reflected on the different perspectives and their implications on our climate work. Then, we closed with a beautiful Taize chant and proceeded to the Bonn Zone.”

On Tuesday, we focused on Ambition at our exhibit space, accompanied on the clarinet by the Rev. Andy Barnett. You can watch that full service in this Facebook Live video.

At past COP summits, the public zone has been truly public, and hundreds of conference participants have joined our services, including many young adult Muslims. This year, the public zone is only quasi-public, requiring registration and credentials to attend, so our services have naturally been smaller.

Friday, November 10, we also participated in a large multi-faith gathering at St Cyprian’s Church, Bonn, for prayers and chant. Bishop Marc led those gathered in singing “Open my Heart.” Other songs included Amazing Grace, led by a speaker from Samoa. The group then cycled away in the blessed rain.

Bishop Marc Andrus  Climate worship  Cycling Away

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