COP15 Day 10: Whole earth peace and justice

You may have seen my tweet from last night’s gathering of Canadians here in Copenhagen. It was a great time of talking with people from across Canadian organizations and perspectives: political, social, economic, and religious. Yesterday I reported about provincial politicians’ comments about the church being here, and last night that message was echoed by more politicians, activists, journalists, and others across generations. A number of them told me about United Church members they know as activists addressing climate change in their regions, including my friend Margaret Tusz-King of Tatamagouche Centre in Nova Scotia. Without exception, they seem to see our United Church as a network to be taken seriously. They say it’s hard to imagine a more potentially effective network where people gather weekly in about 3,300 congregations and see one another regularly in about another 300 mission settings.

Some said they were members but it had been a while since they’d visited. They received a warm personal invitation from their Moderator to come back home.

Chris shot a lot of video that will be posted asap on YouTube (editing and uploading take time)—including a conversation between Bill Blaikie and me about where the church might go from here in addressing climate change. (Bill is a United Church minister who is serving as the Manitoba government’s Minister of Conservation, named as Minister of the Environment in other jurisdictions.)

Maurice Strong told Joy Kennedy that he is not here as a Canadian but he is here as a global citizen. Those of us with the World Council of Churches said similar things about ourselves at a meeting immediately prior to the Canadian party. (With true Canadian hospitality, Joy invited all our global friends to the Canadian party and to enjoy the music of Sarah Harmer.)

Regardless of how these climate talks end, comments from our WCC partners seem to echo what I heard above about the church in Canada: “This is the beginning of new work together”; “We are becoming friends in the true gospel sense”; “The Christian community is the most global of all communities, and I hope that our insights will filter through to policy makers.” “Africa came to COP15 divided, but because of what’s happened, Africa is now united”; “There are so many stories of hope to be shared—the Norwegian government, for instance, supporting reforestation in Ghana and Brazil”; “The liturgical Season of Creation gives us a way to pray as well as to act together globally”; “Meditation and prayer across faith groups is powerful”; “Just be glad we can’t put brackets around biblical texts!”*

You’re likely wondering how we put wheels under such great sentiment. I commend to you the ways in which United Church folks have understood whole earth justice for years, and the resources of analysis and policy that Joy Kennedy and others offer on our website, including those from global partners. We understand that poverty, wealth, and economic justice issues are inseparable from one another, and these resources help deepen that understanding. (Start with More about Climate Justice and see the Take Action page.)

Resources like these help us to be intelligent about analysis, duty, and love. Tomorrow I’ll write more about the importance of coupling love with duty. As Dr. Jakob Wolf, Head of the Dept. of Systematic Theology here in Copenhagen says, “Parents take care of their children out of love, and they pay their taxes out of duty.” Christians care for the world out of love—Love revealed and celebrated at Christmas.

How do you think love and duty will best work together to address the threat and consequences of climate change?

*Words that are not agreed to by all parties will not be included in the final COP15 agreement. Sadly, as of last night, pretty much everything on the table is in brackets. We continue to pray that Love will have its way.

Mardi Tindal, Moderator of The United Church of Canada, is blogging from COP15, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec. 7–18, 2009.