LETTER FROM THE ECUMENICAL MODERATOR
creation and environment
This month we think of Creation and the Environment - the fifth Mark of Mission - as we remember that God so loved the world, the cosmos, that he gave his only Son. In God's world this year there are 193 sovereign states with 6 billion people, 80% of whom live in the so-called developing world, 60% being in Asia. 45% live in cities and 41 metropolises have over 5 million inhabitants with 20 over 10 million. Though population growth continues, the birth rate has dropped perceptibly from 3.92 children per woman in 1980 to 2.79 today. 30% of the world's people are below 15 years of age and only 6.8% are over 65. On average in 1998 the annual GDP per inhabitant of the world's 15 wealthiest nations exceeded $20,000 whereas the figure for the 15 poorest countries was below $1000. Approximately 800 million people still suffer from hunger with the most developed nations consuming more than 50% of primary energy although they make up only 20% of world population. 255 of the largest fortunes in the world total more than $1000 billion.
In 1900 10% of the earth's surface was desert. Today it is 30%. Half the hardwood forests have disappeared. Ozone depletion, global warming, acid rain, nuclear power, air pollution, desertification, soil erosion, deforestation, water depletion, toxic wastes, arms spending, international debt and the population explosion are combining to make creation and the environment an imperative for mission. Our challenge, in the name of the cosmic Christ who died for the redemption of the world, must be to governments, transnational companies and greedy individuals in every country who are destroying the very life, which through the sign of the rainbow, God promised not to destroy. 29 species of parrot are already extinct and a further 89 are on the edge of extinction. 800 species of higher animals are on the danger list, including the great whales, the Asian elephants, and a host of different species of cats and birds, mainly from the tropical forests, By far the most extensive destruction is taking place among plants and insects. One in ten plants is threatened with extinction in the next twenty years. In the 1990's 10,000 species were extinguished each year. At the same time military budgets amounted to one trillion dollars a year, which is a larger sum of money than the entire income of the poor half of the world's population. It works out at $2.75 billion a day.
When we break a loaf of bread in church on a Sunday morning that is mission because at the heart of mission is the Thanksgiving of the Eucharist. That thanksgiving begins by remembering that everything that God created was very good, including the 10,000 species which we are destroying
each year and for whom Christ is the first-born of all creation, for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth.(Colossians 1:15-16) There is a connection between our spending $2.75 billion a day and that broken loaf of bread. If we do not make that connection then we are not involved in that part of God's mission here on earth.
So let us ask the big questions, with all the might that we can muster, ask them to the politicians, to our neighbours and to ourselves, as we echo the words of Isaiah 40 and Psalm 24 ' Have you not known ? Have you not heard ? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth that the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein? ' Let's not simply leave it to the anarchists protesting on the streets or to our sisters and brothers in Greenpeace and other movements. As Christians we are meant to be the rainbow warriors working hand in hand with the living God in his creation and her environment and being gentle when we break bread.
May the love of God enable us to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.