Story and photos by Stephanie Martin Taylor, DioCal Canon for Communications
The Communion Forest booth at the Lambeth Conference
[Canterbury, U.K.] On Wednesday, Bishop Marc and Sheila will travel to Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s official London residence. The day’s highlight will be a symbolic tree planting on the palace grounds and an invitation for bishops, spouses, and others present to pledge to a new initiative called “The Communion Forest.” The global initiative is designed to spark provinces, dioceses, and individual churches to engage in local activities of forest protection, tree-growing, and ecosystem restoration.
At a Lambeth Conference environment seminar Saturday, Bishop Marc hosted a conversation table centered on creation care and liturgy. During his report to the entire seminar group, comprised mostly of bishops and spouses, he encouraged them to engage in the Communion Forest initiative and find ways to integrate their care of creation pledges into their communal worship.
“Think about the liturgy that you hold up, and you tend, and how can you creatively — which means in a living way —shift it so that it helps people make new commitments to the flourishing of life on the earth,” he said.
Wednesday’s tree-planting and Communion Forest pledges at Lambeth Palace could offer a much-needed moment of healing for the 2022 Lambeth Conference, which has been largely overshadowed by divisions over sexuality and the status of same-sex unions.
“Yes, there are cracks in the Anglican Communion,” said the Rev. Dr. Rachel Mash, Environmental Coordinator for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and Secretary to the Anglican Communion Environmental Network.
“But we do believe that care for creation, the Communion Forest, and fighting climate change can bring us together. Not only to heal the nations but also help to heal the Anglican Communion,” she said.
At the Saturday seminar, participants agreed there is no time to lose, with climate change threatening lives and livelihoods in dioceses across the world.
“Ghana is fast becoming a desert,” said Bishop Dennis Tong, from the Diocese of Tamale (Ghana). Rainfall has declined sharply in recent years, he explained, “So food production is very, very low. So whatever we can do as a church to help change the situation, we are ready to engage.” His diocese is already engaging in tree-planting to restore vegetation and is looking to form and strengthen partnerships with the government, non-profits, and other churches to help prevent the already-dire situation from worsening. “Those who are going to suffer the most are the marginalized and the poor,” he said.
Click here to learn more about the Communion Forest initiative