Marie Schlenker - Climate Observatory
Marie in Solomon Islands in 2019 training our Green Apostles to take weather recordings and measure beach erosion

MMUK has appointed its first Care for Creation Officer

The Melanesian Mission (MMUK) is upholding the 5th mark of mission – to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth – with the appointment of its first Care for Creation Officer.

One of Melanesia’s biggest challenges is climate change and environmental degradation, such as logging, mining and increasing pollution levels. The Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACoM) has frequently voiced its concerns about the effects of environmental change on the islands, including increased flooding, shoreline erosion, changing weather patterns and more frequent extreme events impacting food and water security.

In response to this need, the Melanesian Mission has increasingly become involved with climate research, adaptation and advocacy, working with researchers and scientists from the University of Southampton and Selwyn College, Cambridge, and documentary maker Alex Leger. To support this ongoing work, the charity is delighted to announce the appointment from February of Marie Schlenker as part-time Care for Creation Officer.

Marie has previously volunteered with MMUK and helped to develop Care for Creation online courses with HeartEdge. With a background in science, Marie is currently undertaking the final year of PhD studies at the University of Southampton, researching climate change impacts and community relocations in Solomon Islands. With the support of MMUK and ACoM, she conducted research in remote communities in Solomon Islands in 2019, visiting the Provinces of Guadalcanal and Malaita. Marie is also involved in the design and implementation of a citizen-based environmental monitoring programme, ACoM’s Environment Observatories.

In her role as Care for Creation Officer, Marie will take the lead in developing a climate change course for ACoM, which will equip priests and members of the religious orders with the necessary skills to incorporate climate change into their teachings and set up environment observatories in their local communities. Marie will also focus on increasing opportunities for communities in Melanesia and in the UK to get involved in practical climate action.  

On her appointment, Marie said: “Despite having studied geosciences and environmental physics at university, it was only when I travelled to Melanesia in 2019 that I actually saw and understood how closely some communities are reliant on their natural environment, and what environmental degradation and climate change mean for people’s everyday lives.

“It was a wake-up call, which made me realise that I did not just want to study environmental change, but actively prevent further damage, help people adapt to changes and motivate others to join me on this path.

“I am very excited to start my new role as Care for Creation Officer with MMUK and hope to engage with parishes in the UK and Melanesia to work towards a more sustainable future, in which caring for people includes caring for the environment,” said Marie.

Bishop Mark Rylands, Chair of MMUK, commented: “Marie has a heart and passion for this work; she has crucial experience of the situation on the ground in Melanesia and she has the organisational skill, intelligence and ability to make a difference. We are delighted to appoint Marie as our Care for Creation Officer.”

If you would like more information about Marie’s work, please contact the charity (01404) 851491.