Leader of a global alliance of Reformed Churches has told Vanuatu Presbyterians that the Church must follow “God’s will” by taking a leading role in efforts to reverse the effects of climate change.
Setri Nyomi, the general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) while evoking the Lord’s prayer in which Christians ask that the will of God be “done on earth as it is in heaven,” Nyomi says, “I don’t think global warming which is leading to shifting ecological landscapes for nations such as Vanuatu is in the will of God.” Vanuatu is an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean.
The General Secretary also compared cutting down trees as worse than “cutting down throats”, recalling 16th century reformer John Calvin as the champion of environment.
Nyomi’s comments were made Monday to delegates gathered in Port Vila, the Pacific country’s capital, for the 61st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu (PCV) which runs from 23 - 30 August. PCV is a member of WARC.
In a statement delivered to the national gathering of the country’s largest denomination, Nyomi says: “All in the church need to make a new commitment to changes in lifestyle that reflect the will of God.”
Earlier, Nyomi addressed a group of senior church leaders during a study seminar which focussed on the legacy for Vanuatu today of the 16th century church reformer, John Calvin. Emphasizing the French lawyer and theologian’s concern for the environment, Nyomi quoted a sermon Calvin preached in December 1555.
In speaking of cutting down trees, Nyomi noted that Calvin proclaimed: “Today, such cruelty is even greater among those who call themselves Christians. For today they go about scorching and burning the land which is worse than cutting throats.”
“This is John Calvin speaking 453 years ago,” Nyomi marvels, “not a 21st century ecological activist.”
During the opening ceremony of the Assembly on Sunday, the country’s acting President, Maxime Carlot Korman, and Prime Minister Edward Nipake Natapei affirmed the importance of the church and state working together for the good of the nation. The PCV played a key role in the country’s independence movement which led to the creation of Vanuatu, the former New Hebrides, in 1980.
Yesterday’s events included the installation of the church’s new senior leader, Moses Obed, who will serve in the role of Moderator.
Nyomi in his comments today confirmed WARC’s appreciation for the church and its leadership saying: “Historically the church played a constructive role in the independence of Vanuatu and continues to provide education and health facilities and to speak out on issues of environmental justice.”
According to 1999 Vanuatu Statistics office, the pacific island nation has 221,506 population with over 84 percent following Christianity. Presbyterians are the largest denomination with 31.4 percent, Anglicans at 13.4 and Catholics at 13.1 are the other two bigger denominations, while others make up about 16 percent.
Pacific Island Church told to take lead role in climate change
Wednesday, 26 August 2009, 8:59 (EST)
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