Impacts of the climate change and the lingering health and environmental effects of nuclear testing on the countries in the Pacific region are among the issues to be discussed at the meeting of the WCC’s Commission of Churches on International Affairs (CCIA), convened from 19 to 21 February in Brisbane, Australia.
The 57th CCIA session was opened today with a worship service in St John’s Anglican Cathedral, where participants were welcomed to Australia by Archbishop Phillip Aspinall and an elder of the Aboriginal community, Uncle Joe Kirk.
“We live the climate change on a daily basis, that is our life,” said Kirk in his remarks to the CCIA commissioners. “If you want to learn about the environment and climate change – go to the indigenous people.”
Items on the agenda of the CCIA meeting in Brisbane include the climate change emergency, the Australian bushfires and their impact on the people and environment, consequences of nuclear testing programmes in the Pacific region, and the West Papua crisis.
Participants of the 57th meeting of the Commission of Churches on International Affairs at St John’s Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane, Australia. Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC
Bishop Philip Huggins, president of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA), in his opening remarks introduced the work of NCCA for refugees, indigenous people and child safeguarding. Bishop Huggins particularly highlighted NCCA engagement in the work for climate justice, and appreciated the CCIA focus on the topic. “I pray that we can together make some steps that carry us in the beautiful future God has envisioned for all in his creation.”
However, the world seems to be gravitating back to primitive ideologies, where power determines what happens rather than justice, and people slip back into racism and colonial thinking, said CCIA moderator Rev. Frank Chikane in his address to the Commission. “The mission of CCIA is to assist churches in reading the mind of God for God’s people and God’s creation, and I look forward that we continue to assist the churches as we approach WCC Assembly in 2021,” said Chikane.
CCIA director Peter Prove reported on CCIA activities in the past year, focusing on peacebuilding efforts in conflict-affected countries and recent ecumenical ‘Pilgrim Team Visits’ to Indonesia (including West Papua), Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa and Fiji, and looked forward to future visits to Kiribati and other places in the Pacific region where nuclear powers tested their weapons of mass destruction. A focus on this issue “will be one of CCIA’s particular contributions both to the WCC Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, and to the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons,” said Prove.
The WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs advises WCC leadership on critical situations in the world and on opportunities to support initiatives for peace and justice for all, helping churches to shape a coherent ecumenical response to these challenges.