Methodists head to Paris for climate summit



When world leaders gather in Paris this week to broker an accord on climate change, representatives of the faith community will be there to urge them to act.

Picture of United Methodist Women holding Climate Justice sign
United Methodist Women have been among Methodists advocating for creation care that benefits the poor and marginalized population. Here, a group participates in the People's Climate March in 2014. File photo by Linda Bloom for UMNS.

The goal of the United Nations climate summit that began Monday is to adopt a new international agreement to keep global warming under control. The summit is scheduled to end Dec. 11.

(Click here to read a letter from five general agencies of The United Methodist Church telling participants in the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as COP21, that "God's creation is in crisis." Click here to read a World Council of Churches report on petitions signed by nearly 1.8 million faith campaigners. Click here for video coverage of COP21 by the General Board of Church and Society.)

Harm done to the environment is “harm done to humanity,” Pope Francis said in his recent address to the United Nations. Those who suffer the most, he added, are the poor and marginalized.

Human rights “should be strongly emphasized” in any new treaty, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, top executive of the World Council of Churches, declared during a climate justice consultation organized by the Latin American Council of Churches in September.

“Climate changes can only be addressed in a fair and sustainable way if it is proper dynamic between the care for the environment and the need for more justice,” he said.

United Methodists headed to Paris

A delegation from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries will be in Paris during the midpoint of the summit, Dec. 2-9. The team will connect with partner organizations like ACT Alliance, offering worship and prayer support, said Rev. Pat Watkins, the board’s creation care missionary.

“Our focus will be to get messages back to the churches here,” he said, noting that team members will think about how to translate what happens in Paris to the six different regions they represent.

It is a continuation of the work done when the team traveled to Lima, Peru, where a climate change conference took place last December. “In Lima, everybody committed to making an action plan to how they could do some organizing in their part of the world,” Watkins explained.

The mission agency’s creation care team includes Sotico Pagulayan, Cambodia; Rev. Marietjie Odendaal, Switzerland; Anahi¢ Alberti D’Amato, Argentina; Jefferson Knight, Liberia; Cliff Bird, Fiji, and Rev. Susan Mullins, Minnesota. 

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