The second day of the 13th ECEN Assembly 2021 started with a video on ECEN’s origin and story (ECEN celebrating its 20th anniversary | Ecen) first presented in Katowice 2018. The morning devotion, rich in ecotheological references, was prepared by the youth organizations WSCF-Europe and EYCE.
In Session 4 „Churches‘ Action and Commitment in Responding to Climate Change” four panelists from four different countries (Annette Piening – Germany, Laura Morosini – France, Dr Henry Uniacke – England, and Antonella Visintin – Italy) presented how their congregations and churches are responding to the current challenges of climate change. Despite the different local contexts, many common goals have been formulated: raising awareness, disseminating good practices, achieving climate neutrality or reducing carbon footprint are the focus of interest for all of them. The environmental work of the churches is characterized by horizontal networking, volunteering, and ecumenical cooperation, and always takes into account the interests and intentions of local people not associated to the church.
In the 5th Session „Climate Justice – A Concern of Ecumenical Youth” the winner of the Roman Juriga Award 2020: GreenHouse – Bogafjell Church Youth Ministry in Norway was honoured. Following that, representatives of European Christian youth organizations (Aida Selaru – EYCE, Stina Tysk – WSCF-E, Emily Allen – UK Young Christian Climate Network, and Helena Funk – LWF Youth) shared experiences gained in their work on climate justice, and their vision on future interfaith and intergenerational cooperation. They underlined the importance of social media work in raising awareness of young Christians and in creating a voice loud enough to be heard on higher levels as well. They also spoke about mixed feelings of frustration and hope and about the necessity of emotional rest. We have seen that youth organizations can give new impetus to the promotion of climate justice from a theoretical, practical and also theological point of view.
Session 6 touched upon challenges ahead us in coming weeks and months. Chad Rimmer and Cecilia Dall’Oglio, members of the Ecumenical Steering Committe of Season of Creation introduced the new Season of Creation Guide („Oikos – A Home for All? Renewing the Oikos of God”) and briefly explained what Abraham’s tent could mean as a central symbol of this liturgical season.
With regard to COP26, Adrian Shaw outlined the plans and possiblities for a broad spectrum of churches and civil society organisations to take action, strengthen commitment and get involved into the dialogue .
WCC Assembly will be held 2022 in Karlsruhe, where, Henrik Grape suggested, a large scale ecumenical conversation on climate change and climate justice can take place. Delegates will address issues of climate finance and of loss and damage alongside the theological-ethical underpinnings. Witnessing the experiences of people affected by climate change will be also a focal point of critical analysis.
Applications for the Roman Juriga Award 2022 are welcome, you will find further information on the ECEN website soon.
At the close of the event, the date and venue of next ECEN Assembly (11-15 June 2022, Bad Herrenalb, Germany) were announced, further information will be shared in the near future.
As a farewell, Per Ivar Våje, Moderator of the Assembly summed up the core message of the gathering: we are all called upon urgent action on climate change and biodiversity.