Ecology and the Church

LWF in 2nd Orthodox Youth Conference, Istanbul

11th – 16th July 2007

Wednesday afternoon about 700 people (no one actually knows just how many people attends this conference, but I would say it is around 600-700) cathered here to talk about the youth, young people and the Orthodox Church. The theme of the seminar is “Members of the Church – Citizens of the world. The first youth conference was held in 2000, and now it is time to reflect on the conclusions of the first conference and to create visions for the following years.

As a observer at the conference, my job is to listen and learn from people whose views on life and of the Church are different from mine. I have already had interesting taks with Ortodox youth from Finland and from some other European countries. The informal talks and dinners are at least as important and interesting as the official lectures. Today I even had the possiblility to meet briefly the Ecumenical Partiarch Bartolomew and thank His All Holiness for the invitation to the conference on behalf of the LWF.

If you are interested in the topics and lectures of the conference, do feel free to visit the conference web site at www.youth.ecupatriarcate.org. I’m not going to bore you with summarys from all the lectures, but there are a few lectures I’d like to share with you.

The Revendant Ioan Sauca (who some of you might know from the Bossey Ecumenical Institute) spoke about “the formation of the orthodox missionay ethos in the Church”. If I understood correctly, by formation he meant creating a new orthodox way of understanding missionary work. He said that sometimes missionary work in the eastern churches has been affiliated with only western crucades and all that. The orthodox church has not been very active in preaching the message to the noncristian people, partly beacause of this kind of critisism. His point was that the mission of the church is not only to preach and to teach. “Mission” is to be God’s witness in and for the world. It is, according to Mr. Sauca, a ontological part of beeing Christian. It is up to the individual christian person make her/his faith into a practical thing and it is up to God to change our neighbour hearts so that they are able to hear God’s call. He called all the youth to take part in this mission.

The next day I was greatly inspired by the speech of Mr. John Chryssavgis. He spoke about ecology and the church. He reflected ecology and the the seven orthodox sacraments. In his opinion, the crisis of the world is not only about the climate crisis and all that. The larger and much more profound problem is that we christians are failing to see environment as God’s creation and thus just as valuable as a human beeing is. He remindend the audience, that according to the Scriptures, God made humans out of dust. This means, that dust, earth and environment are a built-in part of every human beeing. The metaphor about the Church as a body and Christ as the head of this body includes thus also earth and environment. If one part is suffering, all the other parts are also suffering. This makes ecological lifestyle part of christian lifestyle, concluded Mr Chryssavgis.

In my first post I told you that I also think that working for global justice and safe environment are important parts of beeing Christian. When we talk about the mission of the Church, too often we forget to include global justice or environmental issues into the picture. It seems to me, and to many Orthodox people here in Istanbul I have talked to, that there is a lot of work to be done for all the churches and christians in the world to accknowlegde this. But we should not give up, right?

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3 responses to “Ecology and the Church

  1. Alexandra Nossa

    I totally agree with you about what means being a real Christian. God made all things for our bennefit, but we have the responsability to manage his creation as better as we can. We tend to think God will only ask for our faults against other human beings, but what about we make to animals, trees, water, air,etc? Why do we need to show our superiority as human beings using violence and being cruel ?
    I have seen how women and men hit innocent animals, many of them can defend themselves, others not. In that moment is when we as Christians must do something. As you said there is a lot of work to be done !!!

  2. Too bad so many Christians do not take seriously their mandate to be stewards of God’s creation. If we did take it seriously, we would be more proactive about doing something to save our planet! All you “conservative” Christians, when was the last sermon you heard about saving the environment?! I would guess you never heard one. A great book (by a conservative, mainstream Christian author!) will help you understand. It is called “Love Your Neighbor: Thinking Wisely About Right and Wrong”.
    Read it!
    Find it here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Love-Your-Neighbor-Thinking-Wisely/dp/1581349459/ref=sr_1_1/102-2085712-9684969?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1188402266&sr=8-1

  3. Dear Sir/madam.

    Greetings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
    I am Mr. Pradeep Kumar Chedalavada, from Andhra Pradesh state, India.
    I found your mail id online.
    I did my bachelors in Fisheries Zoology and Chemistry and Masters in Ecology and Environment, and I also did another Bachelors’ in Education

    I’ve been working as a consultant for an environmental consultancy,. We generally deal the projects like, pollution control (air and water), Real estate, highway projects, Sponge iron, Para boiled rice mills, steel-rerolling mills etc. My work mostly related with the EIA documentation and analysis of samples.

    Earlier I’ve worked in a state government project namely ‘Cloud seeding project’, by which the precipitation rate of rainfall can be increased, which is a proven technology, In that project I’ve worked as a Research Scholar. I have also worked in a Proposed Hydro Electric Power Project, carried out Rapid EIA studies in the proposed location. In addition I’ve 5+ years of teaching experience teaching, science, biology, environmental science and Zoology, in various schools and colleges

    This is all about my education and professional experience.

    Sir now I have some dream projects in my mind; I belong to one of the coastal village called Narsapur in West Godavari District of Andhra pradesh. Having full of natural resources, but due to lack of scientific knowledge, farmers are facing many problems. Say for example, white spot disease in Shrimp industry, Red rot diseases in Sugarcane are the major problems of our area. Paddy is the major crop in our district, Government organizations are supporting the paddy farmers, but they are not taking care of the farmers of other sectors.

    The biodiversity duty needs to be more clearly set within the wider framework of sustainable development. This should not devalue the aims of the strategy, but should help local authorities balance better social, economic and environmental priorities. My viewpoint is the education system must be fully utilized to increase the public knowledge of biodiversity and sustainable development issues. This has to be achieved not just in schools, but also in community education projects and through links with businesses. The fostering of public biodiversity awareness is key to the success of the strategy; and the steps required to achieve this need to be clearly defined and adequate resources allocated. The success of our biodiversity plans can only be achieved through engaging the public and encouraging participation and ‘ownership’. The strategy needs to be written in a manner that is accessible to all, with the aims, objectives and the plan of action stated in straightforward terms. The health, quality of life and economic benefits of preserving a rich biological diversity need to be at the heart of the sustainable development message delivered to all communities. In this connection we’ve formed some local communities as well.

    We have a group of technical people who have knowledge in their respective areas. We are ready to travel throught the district, and would like to give proper guidance to the needy farmers, and we want to associate with them to get more productivity. This is our aim, and we have done lot of fieldwork in this regard. We also requested some of the laboratories to conduct the soil, water and biological tests for nominal rates. We have contacted many government and NGO organizations for financial support, but we dint’ get any positive response so far

    Aquaculture waste products are the one the vital problems in this area, we have more than 400 shrimp hatcheries in the coastal belt of our state, most of them are marine water prawn (Penaeus monodon) production centers. Nearly 30 villages in and around Narsapur are having aquaculture ponds. The drain water coming out from the shrimp tanks, and the waste coming out during the time of processing are the major environmental problems here,. The farmers left over the waste on the road and it creates nuisance, causes diseases, and sometimes accidents also. We want to concentrate on this very much. For the proper disposal of wastewater and the biological wastes. And most importantly, Snail shells are the another major problem here. The farmers left over large heaps of snail shells over the roadside, after the snail is generally used as a food for the aquaculture industry. Though this creates lot of environmental pollution and lot of ecological imbalance, the farmers are not leaving this practice. Because of its availability and cheap price.

    Drinking water is the one of the major problem in this area. Having surrounded with huge amount of water, but not even a single drop will not be useful for drinking purpose. Around 20-25 village people are facing this salt-water problem. Earlier with the help of the some of the Churches, and sponsors we’ve organized a Water mission programme, by which we used to supply 5 litres of water to each family in a couple of villages. Our pilot project was success, but it was end up due to lack of funds. One more thing we have to consider here are the road facilities to these villages is not that good.

    There are plenty scope for eco tourism is there in our native place. But due to lack of proper promotion from the Government or the NGO’s this aspect is completely in down trend.

    We would like to concentrate more and more on the following fields to bring the ecological balance and social awareness:
    · Environmental restoration
    · Organic farming
    · Rural development
    · Environmental Education
    · Health and Hygiene
    · Renewable energy
    · Arts and culture
    · Rural water supply
    · Social equality and communal harmony

    Most of the people in our area are small-scale farmers, they generally have ½ to 4 acres of agriculture land, they bring loans and run their activities, floods and cyclones are one of the major problems, here in our coastal zone. In addition the diseases, crop reduction are the other problems. Due to this A large number of farmers have committed to suicide from our district 5 years ago,. The suicides were more in the district of Ananthapur, a complete dry district.

    To avoid these kind of situations the paddy farmers are changing their, agriculture land in to fish or prawn tanks, by doing this some times they may get good crops, The loss or profit are very huge. But when the yield rate falls, the farmers will definitely face the financial problems, they immediately could not go for the agriculture again as their fields not suitable for that.

    These are the few general problems that people of many communities in our region are facing, in addition there are also some socio economic problems and etc are always there, We as a team would like to stand with the people, who are desperately looking for some scientific, environmental, socio economic suggestions, and want to work with the people who are really protecting the nature by their sustainable methods of agricultural practices,. So we are looking to the world, to get some funding support to penetrate more and more into the grass roots to solve the environmental problems and we’ll definitely succeed by eradicating the problem and find a good solution for the well being of the nature and society.

    We request you to kindly help us in this regard

    Yours Sincerely

    Mr. Pradeep Kumar. Ch.
    M.Sc (Ecology and Environment), B.Ed.,
    11-6-49/B, Gandhi nagar-2, Narsapur-534 275
    West Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh
    Contact No: +91- 9866363968/+91-9247778265.
    My e-mail ids: cpradeep9@gmail.com, pradeep276829@yahoo.com

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