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Christians urge PM to take radical action on climate change after IPCC report

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(Photo: Unsplash/Markus Spiske)

Christian groups are urging the Prime Minister to use the UK’s Presidency of COP26 this year to do more to address climate change and support communities already being impacted.

The call follows the release of the latest research from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which warned of “a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity” to avert disaster.

The grim report says that the world is already living with the consequences of climate change, with heatwaves, floods, droughts and wildfires intensifying across the globe.

The panel says that over 40 per cent of the world’s population are now “highly vulnerable” to climate change and that many consequences cannot be reversed.

Responding to the report, Catholic aid agency CAFOD said it was imperative to keep “1.5 alive” as it called on governments to increase their commitments to net zero.

It is calling on rich countries to make good on their promises at COP26 and double the amount of funding for climate adaptation.

Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy at CAFOD, said that for some communities, it was too late to adapt.

“How many crystal-clear red alerts on the climate crisis do we need before we take the urgent and meaningful action?” he said.

“Keeping warming below 1.5 degrees is the only way to avoid the huge destruction that failing those entails, especially for those living on the breadline across the world.

“We are also sadly seeing communities in East Africa and small island states where that destruction has gone beyond the ability to adapt, and they now urgently need funds to compensate for the destruction caused by a climate crisis they did not create.”

He added that while some success was being seen in initiatives to restore mangroves, tropical forests and other coastal and land ecosystems, support for these projects needs to be “massively scaled up”.

“Money to fight the climate crisis cannot be a bargaining chip to be played fast and loose with, this is about the survival
of all of us and the planet we love,” he said.

“In the lead up to COP27, it is vital that Loss and Damage and Adaptation are top of the agenda – it’s now or never for planet Earth.”

Peter Kihara Kariuki, Bishop of Marsabit in Kenya, said the region was facing “severe” drought, forcing people to trek up to 17km for water and leaving many dependent on aid from the church, government or NGOs for basic necessities.

“We must raise our voices and call for ambitious action from world leaders to bring about climate justice by enacting the strongest measures to keep the global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees or below, commit to binding agreements to cut global carbon emissions, and increase support to communities like mine in Marsabit to adapt to the effects of the climate crisis,” he said.

“Climate change is real for us in Marsabit. As churches, as communities, we must make sure that our voices are heard. We have a saying in Swahili: ‘Kuja pamoja ni mwanzo, kukuwa pamoja ni maendeleo; kufanya kazi pamoja ni mafanikio,’ which translates as ‘coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success’.”

Nushrat Chowdhury, Climate Justice Advisor at Christian Aid, is based in Bangladesh. She said the country was already on “the frontline of climate change” and that those in poverty, women and children were being impacted the most.

“This report is a wake-up call to the world that those on the front lines of this crisis need much greater support if they are going to cope with climate impacts they have not caused,” she said.

She said that more funding was needed to help the vulnerable adapt and to support communities living with permanent damage.

“As COP president throughout 2022 the UK government has a vital role in leading global efforts to tackle climate change,” she said.

“The main thing lacking from the outcome at COP26 was robust financial help for the world’s most vulnerable, despite repeated promises from rich nations that it would be provided.

“It is now vital that the UK Government spearhead efforts to mobilise much greater funding to help the climate vulnerable adapt and to set up a fund to deal with the permanent loss and damage which cannot be adapted to.

“Only then will they have a legacy as COP26 president to be proud of.”

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Several Coptic Monasteries Left to Crumble in Egypt

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03/01/2022 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – Several Coptic monasteries in Egypt are facing renovation and reopening issues, including Saint Paul’s monastery near Egypt’s Red Sea. The 4th-century monastery suffered serious flood damage earlier this month, resulting in collapsed walls and access roads flooded and closed off. In January another Coptic Orthodox 5th-century monastery also experienced crumbling walls. The monastery of Anba Samuel has been closed since a terrorist attack in May 2017 for security and renovation, but now monks are struggling to find a concession with authorities to open the building again.

Saint Paul’s monastery was closed off from access roads for some time as a result of the flooding and is built around the cave that its namesake lived in. Both Saint Paul’s and the 5th-century monastery reportedly were left crumbling by the Egyptian authorities. Under Egypt’s non-Muslim worship laws, pre-existing churches and monasteries are allowed but require special permission for rebuilding, repairing, or refurbishment.

In the past several years, security and renovation have been the primary focus at Abna Samuel Monastery, where authorities allowed the renovations after terrorist incidents that resulted in the martyrdom of 35 Copts. However, monastery and local officials struggle now to agree on the reopening of the monastery to the public.

For interviews, please contact [email protected].

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Here’s how you can stand with Ukraine

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Hundreds of thousands of people have fled Ukraine into neighbouring Romania, Poland and Hungary since the first missiles were launched from Russia last week.

According to Baptist World Aid Australia, the United Nations expects up to four million Ukrainians to be displaced, exacerbating the need for food emergency services and refuge.

Baptist World Aid is one of a number of aid agencies that have launched an appeal to support the people of Ukraine. Their “Standing with Ukraine” appeal will provide support for food, hygiene items, medicine, generators, blankets, pillows, temporary shelter and other essentials for displaced people.

In a media statement, Baptist World Aid said that Baptist leaders across Ukraine had been preparing for a possible invasion from Russia, encouraging churches to stockpile resources in case of a military attack.

Acting as “centres of hope”, the statement said, “churches are offering fleeing families food, shelter, medical care and providing a place people can shower and wash their clothes, as well as spiritual encouragement in this frightening time.”

In a letter to supporters, the CEO of Baptist World Aid, Rev Melissa Lipsett, reflected on the season Christians are entering.

“Given this week also marks the beginning of the Lenten season and our collective move toward Easter, I can’t help but think of another group of terrified friends gathered in a locked room, despondent and hopeless for how the events of their life together had ended so abruptly and tragically. Until Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ (John 20:19-20). Hope had been restored,” she wrote.

“The Risen Jesus still extends such peace and hope to us and through us. As he sent out his disciples, may we, too, respond with tangible grace to those suffering in Eastern Europe.”

“As he sent out his disciples, may we, too, respond with tangible grace to those suffering in Eastern Europe.” – Melissa Lipsett, CEO, Baptist World Aid

World Vision’s CEO, Daniel Wordsworth, expressed concern for children in the region as he boarded a flight to Romania, where the agency is preparing emergency support packages for traumatised and exhausted refugees.

“For these families and children, it is the start of a long, unbearable journey – once you cross that border, it’s very hard to return,” Mr Wordsworth said.

“Global bullies are shattering the lives of children who will now face long-term trauma from hearing bombs dropping around them, watching jets fly past their windows and having their families torn apart.”

Proceeds from World Vision’s Ukrainian Crisis Appeal will go towards providing children and their families who need a safe haven with protection and psychosocial support, including child-friendly spaces.

“Global bullies are shattering the lives of children” – Daniel Wordsworth, CEO, World Vision

Bible Society Australia has also launched an emergency appeal for the people of Ukraine, specifically providing Scriptures to churches that are bringing the comforting message of God’s love in the midst of dislocation, military assaults and community breakdown caused by the Russian invasion.

CEO, Grant Thomson, expressed admiration for his Bible Society Ukrainian colleagues who have remained so focussed and hope-filled in the midst of the military assaults.

“Anatoliy Raychynets, the deputy general secretary, is demonstrating remarkable courage in a very difficult situation,” Mr Thomson said. “He is tenacious in his desire to share the Gospel, knowing the message of eternal hope is so needed at a time such as this.”

The European Christian Mission has set up a fund to help their missionaries in Western Ukraine care for refugees from the East. The European Christian Mission website reminds its supporters of Paul’s words to the Galatians, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:10)

The European Christian Mission is asking Christians to support their work in Ukraine in three ways:

  • Prayer, financial support, and sharing their appeal with others.
  • “More than anything, Ukraine needs our prayers. Our workers in the country minister to thousands of students, children, orphans and families through various programs in addition to supporting several church plants. They all need our prayers.”
  • The European Christian Mission is preparing to help tens of thousands of refugees expected in Lviv, coming from the Eastern part of Ukraine and has established a Ukraine Crisis Fund.

“I want to encourage you all in that today as we raise up our prayers like a fragrant offering” – Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Speaking at a church service at St Andrew’s Ukrainian Church in the Sydney suburb of Lidcombe on Sunday, the Prime Minister also reinforced the importance of prayer for the people of Ukraine.

“…as Christians we know that no shells, no bullets, no tyrants can silence faith, can subjugate faith, can take from you the peace of your faith, and I want to encourage you all in that today as we raise up our prayers like a fragrant offering. Just like the incense let those prayers ascend to the heaven. And may mercy reign down. And may compassion reign down. It says in Corinthians that that these things, faith, hope and love the greatest of all of them, may they all endure as I know they will in your hearts.”

The Prime Minister said he had “no doubt” Australia would be taking numbers in addition to the country’s regular refugee program but could not confirm any details.

World Vision Australia is one of several international development and advocacy organisations encouraging the Australian Government to make that commitment a special intake of 20,000 Ukrainian refugees, plus an emergency funding package to provide life-saving humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine urgently.

In a statement released yesterday, Micah Australia (a coalition of Christian organisations and churches) added to the chorus: “If Australia is going to help in any meaningful way in both Afghanistan and Ukraine, then Australia’s refugee and overseas aid programs must both be expanded.”

The statement noted that “despite the overwhelming need, the Australian Government cut its annual Refugee and Humanitarian Program in 2020 by 5,000 places to a capped program of just 13,750 places.” This is a historically low development cooperation budget.

Micah welcomed the PM’s assurances and encouraged the Australian Government to deliver on its “well-intentioned promises” in the upcoming budget.

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