“As Christians, we have hope. We believe God does not abandon creation and that we ourselves can become beacons of that hope by sowing the seeds of a different future”, said Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), in a video message calling upon Christians worldwide to pray together for “God’s beautiful work”.
On 1 September churches worldwide will come together to celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and to observe the Season of Creation between that day and 4 October, a day for celebrating the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Many Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, and Anglican organizations will join to encourage 2.2 billion Christians worldwide to pray and act on ecological issues next month.
In his message, Tveit also noted other actions that can be taken by those who join the prayers. “Let us call on our governments to ratify the Paris agreement; demand for alternative indicators of growth that better measure the health of the communities and the ecosystems. We can divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in sustainable alternatives”, he said.
The late Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I proclaimed 1 September as a day of prayer for the environment in 1989. The Orthodox church year starts that day with a commemoration of how God created the world. On 4 October, Roman Catholics and other churches from the Western traditions commemorate Francis of Assisi, known to many as the author of the Canticle of the Creatures.
The proposal to celebrate a time for creation during these five weeks was made by the Third European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu in 2007. The following year, the WCC Central Committee invited churches to observe time for creation through prayers and actions. In 2015, Pope Francis has designated 1 September as a World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation for the worldwide Roman Catholic Church as well.
The collaborative effort among the different traditions in 2016 encourages both prayer and action for creation. For this purpose, an ecumenical website has been developed under the address SeasonofCreation.org to be used as a hub for compiling resources and information about the campaign.
Participants are encouraged to engage in some kind of advocacy initiative as a way to bring their prayer into action. Additionally, a common advocacy effort will be pursued calling for the urgent signing and ratification of the Paris Agreement, while coinciding with the UN General Assembly.
“As the world continues to witness record-breaking heat, we Catholics need to respond to the dramatic call to action of the Holy Father in Laudato Si’”, said Tomás Insua, global coordinator of the Global Catholic Climate Movement. “And the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation is the perfect opportunity for Catholic parishes and communities to deepen their ecological engagement and join other Christians to take action during the Season of Creation.”
Individuals and communities are invited to organize prayer services celebrated at local levels which will be showcased on a global map to illustrate the scale of the collaboration. Individuals are also invited to participate online through Facebook events and Thunderclap campaigns to promote the #SeasonOfCreation hashtag.
The convening organizations leading the Season of Creation promotion efforts are: World Council of Churches, Anglican Communion Environmental Network, Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer), Global Catholic Climate Movement, ACT Alliance and GreenFaith.