This 4-week Creation Care Course is a unique collaboration between The Diocese of Chester, HeartEdge, Melanesian Mission UK and Southampton University.
In this 4-week Creation Care Course, we will provide you with vital information about climate change, its impacts on people, and reflect on our role as Christians in taking practical climate action.
Week 1: Caring for Creation (7 October 2021, 19.30-21.00), we will take a theological perspective on creation care and tackling climate change, using bible studies and a wide range of theological resources.
Week 2: Understanding Climate Change (14 October 2021, 19.30-21:00), we will look at climate change, its drivers and impacts from a scientific perspective.
Week 3: Living Climate Change – Stories from Melanesia (21 October 2021, 19.30-21.00), we will learn about the effects of climate change on people and draw upon examples of climate impacts and human responses in Melanesia.
Week 4: Taking Action – Caring for the Environment, Caring for People (18 November 2021, 19.30-21.00), we will hear about various options for climate change mitigation and adaptation that we can take as individuals, as parishes and as a Christian community.
MMUK Trustee, Revd Martin Cox, reflects on the charity’s AGM and Patteson Festival Day at Exeter Cathedral on Saturday 18 September.
All the ‘clicks’ of the liturgical Rubik’s cube had been made and there was full alignment around the sides of the cube. This was through the hard work and negotiating skills of Katie Drew, Executive Officer of MMUK. So it was that MMUK trustees’ past and present gathered with the Archbishop of Canterbury and his wife and party, the Diocesan Bishop of Exeter, the Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral, a researcher from the University of Southampton along with supporters of MMUK for this year’s Festival and AGM on a warm day in September in Exeter Cathedral.
There was a significant poignancy to this year’s event as we gathered to mark the 150th commemoration of the death of Bishop John Coleridge Patteson on 20 September 1871 in the very same Cathedral where he had been ordained Deacon and Priest. The liturgical colour was red; the side of the Rubik’s cube was complete.
It was wonderful to gather together in person with several hundred others for the Festival Eucharist. The Book of the Gospels was processed in on a processional canoe. The Archbishop of Canterbury preached from the Martyrs Pulpit and spoke movingly of Patteson as a red and white martyr. Bishop Robert presided and beautifully intoned the Eucharistic prayer. Bishop Willie led the prayers of intercession in the way that only Bishop Willie can! We were reminded of the faithfulness of God and the call upon us all to be faithful. A presentation was made by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral of a copy of Bishop Patteson’s letter asking for more resources.
After our pre-booked packed lunch and conversations, another side of the Rubik’s cube where the clicks had led to perfect alignment, we held our Festival and AGM. Revd Richard Carter and Bishop Willie Pwa’isiho both spoke movingly of Bishop Patteson’s legacy of a spirit of service and mission, of equality of relationships in and through Christ, of the call to live simply and close to God and one another, of the importance of education and a holistic approach to mission, of the role of women who wrapped Bishop Patteson’s body following his death before he was buried at sea so his love for the people could be washed upon the shores of the islands. Bishop Willie ended by leading us in the Lord’s Prayer in Pidgin English.
We moved from looking back to the past to thinking about the present. Marie Schlenker from the University of Southampton and Kate Pwa’isiho spoke of Faith and Science in the Care of Creation. Their equally moving presentation drew attention to the impact of climate change on rising sea levels and the way of life for many. Marie spoke of the climate change observatories to collect much needed data. Kate spoke of the immediate impact on Fanalei Island. Images of coral bleaching and sand dunes in the church made a powerful impression on those gathered together. We were left with the challenge to reflect on our own lives as the decisions we take do affect the lives of others. We know this instinctively, but Marie and Kate highlighted the challenge powerfully.
Before he departed, Archbishop Justin responded to the presentations. His Grace spoke of the capacity of the Anglican Communion to tell the story of climate change, of how the Melanesian church is engaged in holistic mission and speaks the voice of the Spirit, of how peace and reconciliation are vital to create the space to engage with climate change issues: “If it’s not dealt with for everyone, it’s not dealt with for anyone.” Archbishop Justin concluded his remarks by reflecting to us that Bishop Patteson set an example for us all, commenting that when we are at war with the world we are war with God.
Following the departure of the Archbishop of Canterbury and his party the Festival heard a recorded message from the Archbishop of Melanesia. Archbishop Leonard spoke of how Bishop Patteson was truly Melanesian oriented and how Melanesians claim him as their own for ever. Bishop Mark Rylands, Chairman of MMUK interviewed Revd Brian Macdonald-Milne about his book, ‘Seeking Peace in the Pacific’. Brian reminded us of how God’s grace transforms human failure and failings. The Annual General Meeting of MMUK followed with a presentation to Marie in token of her work as an intern over the last year the presentation of the accounts by Steve Scoffield, Honorary Treasurer of MMUK who spoke of the need for wise decision making and a trust in God’s faithfulness going forward. Following the re-election of three trustees’, Bishop Mark concluded the AGM by assuring us of God’s blessing.
It was a real joy and privilege to attend the Eucharist and to be present for this year’s in-person Festival and AGM. Those I spoke to during the day echoed these sentiments and were grateful for the way in which the day had been organised. As I left the Cathedral as one of the re-elected trustees’ I was conscious that the pieces of the liturgical Rubik’s cube were now being scrambled again having been in alignment for our day together. It was ever thus. However, as a result of this year’s Festival and AGM, the occasion, the location, the participants, the presentations and the way in which the sides of our Rubik’s cube had been aligned for the moment, I was also conscious that MMUK and our support for the mission of the Anglican Church of Melanesia had somehow come of age.
Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the Universe. By your word the evening comes, by your power the day dawns. You are the Lord of the tides and season. You have set the stars in the sky. You have placed a limit on the sea. In your love you created all things. By your love all has been redeemed. Through your love all creation is sustained. Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the Universe.
(Island of Light: An Illustrated Collection of Prayers by David Adam, SPCK 2002)
Revd Martin Cox, Diocese of Manchester, MMUK Trustee
In 2015, all 193 United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a shared blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all people. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The SDGs are an urgent call for action by all countries to address the global challenges we face today. They recognize that eradicating poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies aimed at reducing inequalities, improving access to education, responsible consumption and technological innovation, tackling climate change and preserving our environment. They call for global partnership to achieve peace and prosperity for all people.
For an overview of the 17 SDGs take a look at the graphic below. More detailed information about the SDGs can be found on the website of the United Nations:https://sdgs.un.org/goals.
How successful have we been so far in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Melanesia?
In Solomon Islands, the national implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals is set out in the National Development Strategy 2016-2035. In Vanuatu, the government’s efforts to address the SDGs are guided by the Vanuatu 2030 The Peoples Plan.
Both countries regularly reflect on their progress towards achieving the SDGs in voluntary national reviews. According to the latest national reviews and UN statistics, both countries have made significant progress in addressing sustainable development. However, major challenges remain in nearly all areas of development.
SI and Vanuatu Governments have promoted economic growth through investments in agriculture, fisheries, forestry, tourism and mining sectors, leading to sustained growth, lower unemployment and lower poverty rates.
There have been major improvements in addressing health and wellbeing in Melanesia. Maternal, neonatal and child mortality have significantly declined in recent years. Incidences of tuberculosis have become fewer and the risk of dying from non-communicable diseases has decreased. However, there have been worrisome increases in alcohol consumption, the number of obese people, diabetes and incidences of cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, the availability of modern family planning methods to women of reproductive age has declined and child marriage and adolescent birth rates are on the rise. Furthermore, sexual violence against women remains a major challenge.
Access to clean water and sanitation as well as electricity and the Internet has widened in recent years. However, further improvements are urgently needed as over half of the population in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu still lacks access to basic water and sanitation facilities. Only 63 % of the SI population had access to electricity in 2017 and only 13 % access to the Internet (63 % and 26 % in Vanuatu, respectively).
In both countries, the proportion of population suffering from hunger has slightly increased in recent years, to around 13 % in Solomon Islands and 10 % in Vanuatu. Particularly, child malnourishment poses a persistent problem, with roughly one third of all children under 5 years in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu experiencing stunted growth in 2015.
While rates of engagement in primary education in Vanuatu are slightly increasing (to 81 % in 2017), enrolment in primary schools in Solomon Islands is on a worrisome decline (67 % in 2018, compared to 81 % in 2007).
Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have agreed upon comprehensive national policies for climate action and environmental protection, recognizing the role that a healthy environment plays in achieving other SDGs. Governments and NGOs have started to implement climate adaptation, environmental conservation and disaster resilience programmes with support of the international community. Nevertheless, environmental degradation due to local human activities including logging, inappropriate waste disposal and overharvesting, as well as the effects of climate change, in the form of higher sea levels, shifting weather patterns and more frequent extreme events, are on the rise.
To summarize, Melanesia still faces major challenges and will need significant support of the international community to achieve the SDGs by 2030. Especially, the SDGs related to Zero Hunger, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Clean Water and Sanitation, and Life on Land and Below Water urgently need attention. COVID-19 has slowed down our efforts to tackle the SDGs – therefore, it is even more important that we take action now.
How does MMUK address the Sustainable Development Goals?
MMUK supports the global efforts to achieve the SDGs by partnering with the Anglican Church of Melanesia to bring about positive change in Melanesia. Most of our projects directly address one or more of the SDGs. Additionally, our support for ACoM and its mission enables the implementation of many other projects initiated by ACoM, which aim to achieve a more sustainable future for communities in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in accordance with the SDGs.
For example, our long-standing cultural exchanges for clergy and students from both, the UK and Solomon Islands, foster global understanding and relationships and directly address SDG 17: Global Partnership for the Goals.
Our support for the renovation of the Pamua Girls’ Dormitory is one example of how we are helping to tackle SDG 4: Quality Education in Melanesia.
The ACoM Environment Observatory project, which we continue to support throughout 2021, raises awareness of environmental issues and enables church-led observations of environmental and climatic change across Solomon Islands. Thereby, it addresses SDG 13: Climate Action, SDG 14: Life below Water, and SDG 15: Life on Land.
In our future communications, we will use the SDG symbols published by the United Nations to show how our work in Melanesia relates to the global efforts to achieve a more equitable and sustainable future for all people.
MMUK Initiatives and matching UN Sustainable Development Goals
Exeter Events : Tuesday 29th June – Saturday 3rd July
MMUK is joining the Young Christian Climate Network’s Relay to COP26, as it passes through the Diocese of Exeter. YCCN’s relay aims to raise awareness of COP26 and encourage Christians to engage in creation care theology, individually and corporately. In particular they are calling upon the UK Government to:
Reinstate the foreign aid budget to pre-COVID levels
Secure agreement from rich countries to double the commitment of $100bn a year for climate finance
Develop with other governments and international organisations a new regulated climate loss and damage mechanism which not only saves lives but livelihoods.
Push for the debts of the world’s poorest countries to be cancelled so they can better confront the climate crisis and other urgent priorities
As the relay passes through Devon, MMUK will be sharing stories of the impact of climate change in Melanesia at a number of events. There will be a welcome service at Exeter Cathedral on 30th June, prayers at Exeter University on 1st July, a live streamed presentation and Q&A from St Matt’s Exeter on 2nd July, and talks at the Devon County Show on 3rd July. Details on all these events, including the link for the online talk, can be found on the Diocese of Exeter’s website Events & Training | Diocese of Exeter (anglican.org) For more details on the relay visit RELAY | YCCN
Come and learn more about climate change, the theology, science, the impact on Melanesia, & church responses.
The environment is God’s gift to everyone. We have a responsibility towards each other to look after God’s Creation. Tackling climate change is a vital part of this responsibility. In a recent address to faith leaders on 4th February, ahead of the Glasgow conference on climate change in November 2021, the Archbishop of Canterbury said:
“To think climate change is a problem of the future rather than a scourge of the present is the blind perspective of the privileged. We look around and see that Mozambique has been hit again by tropical storms. In Nigeria, desertification has contributed indirectly to conflict between people competing for dwindling resources. Floods and cyclones have devastated crops in Melanesia, risking poverty and food insecurity.”
In this 4-week Creation Care Course, we will provide you with vital information about climate change, its impacts on people, and reflect on Our role as Christians in taking practical climate action.
In Week 1: Caring for Creation (17th June 2021, 16:00-17:30), we will take a theological perspective on creation care and tackling climate change, using bible studies and a wide range of theological resources.
In Week 2: Understanding Climate Change (24th June 2021, 16:00-17:30), we will look at climate change, its drivers and impacts from a scientific perspective.
In Week 3: Living Climate Change – Stories from Melanesia (1st July 2021, 16:00-17:30), we will learn about the effects of climate change on people and draw upon examples of climate impacts and human responses in Melanesia.
In Week 4: Taking Action – Caring for the Environment, Caring for People (8th July 2021, 16:00-17:30), we will hear about various options for climate change mitigation and adaptation that we can take as individuals, as parishes and as a Christian community.
To get the most out of this consecutive course, we highly recommend attending all four sessions. However, individual bookings will be possible as well.
Biography of Principal Contributor
There will be further input from members of Melanesian Mission UK and wider organisations promoting church engagement on this vital topic as we journey towards COP 26.
Marie Schlenker is a PhD candidate at the University of Southampton, researching climate change impacts in Solomon Islands. Marie conducts her research in close collaboration with the Anglican Church of Melanesia and the Melanesian Mission UK. She holds a BSc in Geosciences, a MSc in Environmental Physics and a Postgraduate Certificate in Disaster Management.
In December 2020, representatives of ACoM, researchers of the Solomon Islands National University, government officials and “Green Apostles” from the ACoM Environment Observatory test sites came together at Red Beach, Honiara, to celebrate the 1st anniversary of the establishment of the first ACoM Environment Observatories.
Honourable guests who followed ACoM’s invitation to the event included His Excellency Dr Brian Jones, British High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, Mr Hudson Kauhiona, Director of the Climate Change Office at the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) in Honiara, Mr Barnabas Tahoo, Director of the Meteorology Department at MECDM, and Dr Michael Ha’apio, Director of the Solomon Islands National University.
The festivities around the 1st anniversary of the ACoM Environment Observatories provided an ideal forum to reflect upon the origins and implementation of the observatory project. Voices from the test sites at Fanalei, Walande, Selwyn College and Red Beach were heard. The “Green Apostles”, who conduct and document measurements of temperature, rainfall, water levels and shoreline positions for the observatories, shared their thoughts on past experiences, challenges and future opportunities.
Population growth and sea level rise resulting in a lack of land for gardening were concerns highlighted by the representatives from the test sites in South Malaita. Both communities currently face challenges of relocation and are in need of support to obtain land for settlement and gardening. Representatives of Sikaiana community at Red Beach reiterated the concerns about sea level rise and mentioned the additional challenge of changing weather patterns, which impact crop harvests across the country.
Speeches by government officials and the observatory project staff confirmed that for Melanesians, climate change is not a challenge of the future, but one that is already being lived in the here and now.
The observatory project aims to address the climate emergency by taking a two-way approach, combining knowledge transfer and local awareness raising, with the creation of scientific evidence of climate change and political engagement. Clergy and community members in Solomon Islands are equipped with the necessary skills to create trusted, scientific evidence of environmental change, which will be shared with policy makers and other stakeholders. At the same time, the observatories positively affect local adaptation in Anglican communities as knowledge about climate change and strategies for sustainable and environment-friendly livelihoods are shared amongst the community members.
The reflections by the “Green Apostles” during the festivities for the project’s 1st anniversary confirmed that the concept is working. The community representatives expressed their great appreciation for the project and highlighted that the engagement with the observatories has sparked discussions about possibilities for community-led adaptation at the test sites. For the future, the “Green Apostles” expressed their interest for greater engagement with policy makers to bring about positive change in their communities, especially with respect to relocation.
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact
Halo Olketa! My name is Naomi Hovell Maitani and I am from South Malaita in the Solomon Islands.
Climate Change is a global issue but little has been done about it. I resided at Selwyn College National Secondary School for six years (2015-2020) and my interest in climate change issues emerged in 2016. I watched the shoreline while traveling to Honiara from Selwyn College and back and I could tell that the coastline had been eaten away by the waves and tides. This also applies to our other islands in the country. I usually spend my holidays at my home village of Oloha, South Malaita, and the roots of the trees grown at our shoreline have also been eaten away by the waves and tides. It is my hope that the understanding about climate change, its impact and human adaptation to climate change will reach our rural areas. That is to prepare them and to keep them alert and safe.
I met my friend Marie Schlenker in late 2019 when the ACoM Environment Observatory began. We installed a rain gauge, a thermometer, shoreline poles and conducted GPS measurements of shoreline and vegetation positions on the Selwyn College shoreline. When Marie returned to the UK, I continued to help Freda with the shoreline and vegetation recordings. So much has been learnt from the observatory, but there are also many challenges ahead. The observatory gives us the understanding that we need to keep records on weather and assess the shoreline closely to make predictions on sea level rise, weather patterns, hazards and disasters and to create adaptation and mitigation strategies now and for the future. As our islands are mainly low-lying islands and atoll islands, we are highly affected by climate change. Like other Pacific Islands, we need to prepare.
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact
Just after Easter Form 1 students at Selwyn College successfully completed the ACoM Environment Observatory Short Training facilitated by Friian Quai.
Students learnt how to collect data on environmental change in their local environment, including daily measurements of temperature, rainfall, and water levels, as well as observations of long-term shoreline variability.
In the future, student groups at Selwyn College will apply the skills they learnt during the training course to monitor the environment around the school and contribute to increasing our understanding of climate change and its related issues in Solomon Islands.
ACoM is currently seeking funding to roll out the programme to the most environmentally at-risk parishes in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Please pray that funding comes forward for this important programme.