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Time for Anglican Communion to “take seriously” the fifth mark of mission: “to safeguard the integrity of creation”

Posted on: November 15, 2021 4:39 PM
Archbishop Julio Murray (Right) Dr Elizabeth Perry (Centre) Nicholas Pande (Left)
Photo Credit: Anglican Alliance

Anglican Consultative Council delegation for COP26 reflect on the UN Climate Change conference and look forward to what happens next. 

The Anglican Consultative Council delegation to COP26 have been sharing their reflections from the conference, and thoughts about how the Communion can take their message forward. 

Dr Elizabeth Perry said: “The fifth mark of mission calls us to safeguard the integrity of creation. It really is time to sit down and take that seriously as a Communion, more than we have been doing…this is about people’s lives, it’s about the integrity of creation, it’s about having a liveable world, a world that God created and loves, and we need to love it too.” 

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) took place in Glasgow, Scotland from 31 October to 12 November. The Anglican Consultative Council sent a delegation of three, Archbishop Julio Murray, Nicholas Omondi Pande and Dr Elizabeth Perry, and there were many other prominent Anglicans present. The delegation were hosted by the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Archbishop Mark Strange.  

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They prepared a policy brief that detailed their messaging. The delegation had many opportunities to share this policy brief during the conference and were able to present it to key figures including the First Minister of Scotland, the UK’s High-Level Climate Action Champion, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. 

The delegation took part in several interfaith initiatives, including co-sponsoring an official side event, and Archbishop Julio Murray was invited by the BBC to appear on the Sunday Programme.

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Reflecting on the conference, Nicholas Pande noted that the delegation came in with a key focus on just financing and resilience building, and that both were reflected in the outcomes of COP26. He said: “there are a number of things that have captured our aspirations, but there are still gaps that need [to be] addressed”. 

Emphasising the importance of youth engagement was another key priority for the delegation. Nicholas Pande said: “as young people, we really want to see action now so that the heavy weight is not left on our shoulders. As a Communion, I see a lot of young people that are able to start action in their local communities…it is important as the Anglican Communion to build the capacity of young people”. Archbishop Julio similarly said that they are planning “to establish more opportunities for capacity building, for the leadership of our church…not only clergy but also laity, and when I talk about the laity, I’m really referring to the young people in our church.” 

Dr Elizabeth Perry said that the outcome of COP26 is difficult to assess, that “there are many, many negotiations happening…and time will tell whether they are successful or not”. Archbishop Julio Murray said: “I’m sorry to say that the media is looking for the COP26 to be a big bang, and that is exactly what it’s not. COP26 is an opportunity for the technical aspects to be looked into, and to establish a route forward”.

All three delegates were very clear that the work is not over. They all mentioned ways that the Anglican Communion can continue to live out the fifth mark of mission, and safeguard the integrity of creation. To watch their interviews, click here.

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Jack Palmer-White, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said: 

“Although COP26 is now over and the media focus on climate change may fade, the need for persistent and progressive climate action remains a top priority. First of all, I would encourage all Anglicans to continue to pray. Pray for those affected by climate change, and pray for decision-makers and those responsible for delivering the promises made in Glasgow. 

“Secondly, each of us can play our part to turn promises into action. Whether through changes in our own lives, or by speaking to leaders in our churches, businesses and governments to keep them accountable for the promises they’ve made, we can all made a difference. 

“And thirdly, let’s work together as Anglicans to live out the Fifth Mark of Mission. Whether you’re a veteran climate activist, or COP26 is the first time you’ve thought about climate change, this is an opportunity to join with other Anglicans – consider joining the Anglican Communion Environmental Network and keeping up-to-date with the Communion’s participation on a range of issues at the United Nations.” 

The Anglican Alliance and the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations will be hosting a webinar on 29 November on how Anglicans can implement climate action. Rachel Carnegie, Executive Director of the Anglican Alliance, said: “This webinar is an opportunity to assess the outcomes of the UN climate summit. We will hear from the Anglican Communion delegation to COP26. We will together analyse the agreements from COP26 and identify the next steps, for climate justice and climate action, as we journey towards the Lambeth Conference and beyond.” To register for the event, click here.