18 July 2017

Seeking justice in climate
change and in health care

Step-by-step towards justice … in the High Leigh Conference Centre (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

At the USPG conference in High Leigh this afternoon, we were challenged to think about promoting justice issues that involve protecting health and demanding climate justice.

Jo Musker-Sherwood, Director of Hope for the Future www.hftf.org.uk , spoke of the impact of global warming and climate change, with examples from her experience in Peru. There 95 per cent of people rely on water stored in glaciers on the heights of the Andes for their water supplies, and Peru is heavily dependent on water for hydro-electricity.

She spoke about the challenges to faith in a changing climate, and spoke of the work of Hope for the Future, which aims to give a platform to Churches working on climate change issues, and spoke of lobbying Parliament and MPs.

The campaign works with people of all faiths and none, but at its heart it remains a deeply Christian campaign.

She suggested MPs often do not take seriously people they suspect do not live out the values that they lobby on. The climate movement has developed an unfortunate reputation for lecturing at people and threatening them about the consequences of heeding the threats posed by climate change.

She offered signs of hope in the face of a problem that is becoming increasingly dangerous.

She asked us to consider that ways in which our identities are connected to fossil fuels and how this awareness impacts our response to climate change.

And she asked what we think are the biggest opportunities for tackling climate change in our churches and our dioceses.

Bishop Saw John Wilme of Toungoo, a diocese in the Church of the Province of Myanmar, spoke of his Church’s work in providing health care for people in the country we also know as Burma.

It was a timely reminder of how often we take clean water for granted in this part of Europe. Access to water is essential for clean clothes, basic hygiene, combatting malaria, and so is essential to basic health care. Yet many people in Myanmar find it difficult to access sources of clean water.

Since the new government was formed in 2014, the country has started to change, but there are still conflicts, minority ethnic tribes suffer discrimination, there are many checkpoints, the army still controls many key ministries, and former generals control many businesses.

‘We all want peace,’ he said, but those who control the big weapons continue to control the agenda.

In trying to reach the unreached, the Anglican Church in Myanmar has been involved in setting up hospitals and engaged in building healthy communities in partnership with USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

The day began at High Leigh with the Morning Eucharist celebrated by the Revd Canon Joabe Cavalcanti, a colleague trustee of USPG. During the day, we have also had workshops on protecting health, growing the Church, enabling livelihoods, promoting justice, responding to crises, and USPG’s ‘Journey With Us’ short-term mission programme.

The Council of USPG meets this evening, and the day ends with Night Prayer led by Father Herbert Fadriquela, Anglican chaplain to the Filipino Community in the Diocese of Leicester.

Welcome to the High Leigh Conference Centre near Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

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