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Young people share message of hope about the environment to the bishops of Lambeth Conference

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The young peoples’ messages have been featured in a short film that will be shared with Anglican bishops taking part in Lambeth Conference Bishops’ Conversations. These online meetings are being held before the Lambeth Conference (which is convened by The Archbishop of Canterbury for Anglican bishops) meets in 2022.

Environmental care and ‘treasuring creation’ will be the theme of the Bishops’ Conversations in November (2 and 4 November). The talks will happen in the same week of COP26 – the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Four young people from the Anglican Church of Southern African were asked: “If you could share a message of hope to bishops invited to the Lambeth Conference about the part they can play in responding to the Climate Crisis – what would it be?”

The young peoples’ messages encouraged bishops to keep pursuing the fifth Mark of Mission to “Safeguard and sustain creation”, to train and educate people in their communities about environmental concerns and to use their influence as faith and community leaders to advocate for change.

“As the fifth [mark of] mission of Anglican Communion says: I challenge you ‘To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, sustain and renew the life of the earth.” Our leaders, I challenge you to take this statement to preach it more into our churches…” said Tholo Moleleken, from the Diocese of Free State, in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

Tsebo Lefa, Aphinda Nomangloa and Lay Canon Avuuyile Kauleza also share messages. They are young adults from the Diocese of Mzimvubu, in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

The film closes with an excerpt from Stephen Frank urging for advocacy. Stephen is a young environmentalist in the UK, who is part of the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN). He has been taking part in a march through the UK, walking from the G7 in Cornwall to the COP in Glasgow, calling for action on climate change.

Alongside the youth messages, bishops and Anglican friends in the film share hopes about the important role that bishops can play in caring for creation.

Bishop Kitohi Pikaahu is Chair of the Anglican Indigenous Network (AIN) and urges the church to listen to the voice and experience of indigenous young people in responding to the climate crisis.

“My view is that indigenous young people are the sign of the future hope for the world… Young people can see the mistakes of previous generations. Because they are the hope for the future – there is a certain vitality and energy for young people to do better, to be better than previous generations.”

The Bishop of the Amazon – the Rt Revd Marinez Bassotto has a vision of the Anglican Communion playing an influential role in listening to the voice of indigenous people.

“One thing I believe we can do as Anglican Communion… is to give voice to indigenous people. I believe this is something that the Anglican Communion can bring as a contribution that’s specific to the Anglican Communion for the global discussion of climate justice, which is to give voice to the indigenous peoples, the native peoples, all over the world.”

Reverend Rachel Mash from Green Anglicans explains that young indigenous people are often at the brunt of climate change – but have much to say and teach us in how to tackle the issue.

“Indigenous people are the front line of climate change. They are living in the areas most impacted by climate change. They live off the land. Their ways of life, their livelihoods and cultures are being destroyed as they are being pushed off the land. They are the front-line workers of climate change in two ways. Firstly – they are the most impacted and secondly they are the ones that can do the most to protect biodiversity in those areas.”

Bishop Graham Usher, Lead bishop for the Environment in the Church of England urges bishops to listen to the ideas and creativity of young people in how to respond to the climate crisis.

“Gather together a group of young people from your diocese. I can assure you that a conversation with them about the climate emergency and biodiversity loss will inspire you. They will come up with all sorts of creative ideas for how you can get involved in promoting this whole area.”

Happening in the same week as COP26 – November’s Lambeth Conference Bishops’ Conversations will provide an important opportunity for bishops to discuss their experiences of climate crisis and how they are responding in their settings.

Discussions could explore how the Anglican Communion can advance commitments being made at COP26, through advocacy and action at local and global levels.

They will also explore how they can get involved with Anglican environmental networks and projects already so active throughout the Anglican Communion.

By standing in solidarity on major environmental issues, the Anglican Communion can play a significant role in the global response to climate crisis.

Stephen Frank, from the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) says: “When we step out when we speak up, when we counter those who are trying to destroy this planet. We are so powerful, and we can really, really have the power to change that. And that’s what gives me hope for this moment.”