The American Baptist Churches Creation Justice Network is a Task Force that was established in 2016 by the Board of General Ministries to ensure that our ABC Family is highly involved in Eco Justice work. The ABC Creation Justice Network states that its mission is “to build a movement among Baptists that seeks peace, justice, and reconciliation with all of God’s creation; our vision is a just and sustainable future for God’s creation.” To that end, the members of the ABC Creation Justice Network have been engaged in a cadre of activities across our country to promote awareness of climate issues and to encourage our churches to be intentional about climate mitigation actions. On June 5, Rev. Tom Carr, co-coordinator of the Task Force, had the privilege of taking this cause to an international level as he represented our ABC Family in Greece at a premiere climate change gathering.
Carr represented American Baptist Churches at “Towards a Greener Attica: Preserving the Planet and Protecting its People,” an international symposium organized by His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. The symposium, held June 5-8, 2018, in Athens and the Saronic Islands, Greece, focused on climate change, environmental degradation, poverty and the refugee crisis.
This ninth major symposium of the Ecumenical Patriarchate brought together religious leaders and scientists, environmental experts, journalists, members of political, business, and government sectors along with other international leaders, to explore the pressing ecological and human problems of the region and the world. Examining the connections between ecology and economy, land, water and food concerns, as well as conflict and growing political intolerance, participants heard and discussed both the overwhelming global and local crises, and worked to make positive steps forward to confront these existential human and planetary threats.
Religious and spiritual leaders came from many different traditions, including Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Protestant backgrounds. Also in attendance were two official delegates of the Vatican, Cardinals from Ghana and Nigeria representing Pope Francis; Episcopal bishops; and several Orthodox priests. The news from scientists discussing climate change was alarming, as were the reports related to fresh water sources, food scarcity and labor rights. Conversations about the very real possibility of the destruction of civilization under the stress of drought, extreme weather, rising sea levels, massive movements of climate refugees and species extinction gives anyone who would face reality cause for profound concern. At the same time, leaders and participants were renewed and empowered through conversation and sharing of the work that is being done locally and throughout the world.
Rev. Tom Carr presented a letter of greeting and Pastoral Letter on Eco-Justice from ABCUSA General Secretary, the Reverend Dr. Lee Spitzer, to His All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch.
“I am deeply grateful to the Ecumenical Patriarch for his decades long commitment to eco-justice as a person of faith and for convening this symposium; I was blessed to be a part of it. I return from this experience sobered to the realities we face as people and planet, but hopeful in the knowledge of the committed work of so many and the blessed assurance of the presence of God in all life,” reflected Carr.