I met Rev Tafue Lasume, General Secretary of the Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu, at the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan, South Korea, where he spoke with passion and conviction about the dire prospects for the Pacific island nations as the impact of climate change is already being seen. The nation of Tuvalu itself sits on a small collection of reef islands and atolls in the Pacific Ocean. Salt water has entered the underground water table on which the people rely, and scientists suggest the islands will eventually be subsumed as sea levels continue to rise.
Rev Tafue Lasume was among participants of an interfaith summit on climate change, and one of the signatories of an interfaith document, Climate, Faith and Hope: Faith traditions together for a common future. It’s worth a read!
Rev Rob Floyd, National Director, Uniting World, asks:
In the wake of Cyclone Pam, it’s a hot topic once again for people in the Pacific.
Throughout the Pacific, more than 90% of people identify as Christians. Faith is central to identity. And as storms come with more frequency and high tides batter homes, emergency relief isn’t the only thing on people’s minds.
Can God fix climate change?
Will God intervene to save Pacific homelands?
Leaders in the Pacific tell us that many of their people have been taught to believe that God will save and that to act against, or even to believe in climate change, is to demonstrate a lack of faith. At the same time, as suffering increases for people deeply traumatised by recent events, a spiritual crisis seems inevitable.
Rev Tafue Lasume said recently:
“Climate change represents a spiritual as well as a physical crisis for our people. We desperately need to educate communities about the fact that God has not abandoned us; climate change is caused by humans and requires a human response.”
In response, the Uniting Church in Australia is working through UnitingWorld in partnership with Pacific churches to:
- Educate Pacific communities biblically about environmental stewardship, justice and the presence of God, inspiring hope and action
- Train trauma counsellors for survivors of extreme weather events
- Plan for risk assessments, adaptation, inevitable relocation and resettlement
- Advocate for climate justice throughout the Pacific and to a global audience
Find out more here: www.unitingworld.org/pacificchange
Please note that Pilgrim Uniting Church has launched an appeal to raise funds to help rebuild the lives of families and congregations in Vanuatu after the recent devastation of Cyclone Pam. Please contact the office if you wish to give to the appeal (82123295, firstname.lastname@example.org), or contact Uniting World direct in the Sydney office.