On Monday, the Blantyre CCAP Synod partnered the Leadership for Environment and Development Southern and Eastern Africa and the Presbyterian Church of Canada to organise a two-day workshop on climate change and adaptation for church leaders.
JAMES CHIMPWEYA spoke to deputy general secretary of the synod Reverend Clifford Nyekanyeka on the workshop.
Q. Why has the synod organised this training workshop?
For a long time, the church has only been involved in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind and inheritance of the Kingdom of God. But today, the church is now in the forefront sensitising communities on the effects of climate change and how they can adapt. The church and climate change cannot be separated because they have been running side by side since creation. As a church, we have an obligation to sensitise our members on the effects of climate change and adaptation because we have members who are affected when floods occur.
The other reason is the biblical aspect of it. Since creation, God made man (Adam) and gave him stewardship of looking and naming His creation and also taking care of it. This story of creation can be found in Genesis Chapter 1. There are two aspects of this story: stewardshipâ€”caring for creationâ€” and dominance because the whole creation was in his hands. This training workshop was looking at these two so that man should be responsible enough to care and not to destroy creation.
Q. Besides this, what other links exist between the church and climate?
The relationship started long time ago since creation. The Bible teaches us that creation, that is mountains, hills, rivers, trees, plants, animals, birds etc are intimately interwoven with Godsâ€™ loving care for humanity. Secondly, ecology relates to the themes of the Christian gospel. The New Testament shows how God loves lilies (Matthews 6:28-30) and sparrows (Mathews 10:2831). Complete gospel should include relationship with God, fellow man and creation. Failure to take care of the environment would result in punishment for Israel Lev 26:14-45. Therefore, the church should be concerned with the creation, environment and the effects of global warming.
Q. So what will the synod do after the workshop?
The church should mainstream climate change lessons in terms of how to adapt to it. We need the church to empower its flock and understand the issue. After this workshop, we will be able to train our flock on the issue. Last growing season, most families did not harvest much due to climate change and we hope to see changes on adaptation. We will encourage our members to plant more trees as one of the many ways of addressing climate change issues. The Blantyre Synod Health and Development Commission has various programmes on climate change.
Q. How will you ensure that messages on climate change reach members in rural areas?
In the workshop we have involved various departments in the synod and all 18 presbyteries of the synod so that the message should reach every corner of the synod. Reverends and church elders will also carry messages on climate change in their sermons.