Threatened life – a faith response
The Church of Norway General Synod 2007 strengthened earlier statements on consumtion, justice and environmental concerns. The General Synod realises that profound changes will be needed in our way of life.
The General Synod requested the Church of Norway National Council to present a milestone plan with annual goals to the Synod's session in 2008, and to include a sustainability reform in the Church of Norway strategy plan. In the Synod`s decision the following aspects were highlighted:
- work to clarify the ecological dimension of faith in all Church activities and in ecumenical cooperation with other churches. Individuals and parishes must be assisted in promoting an "earthbound Christian practice" where they follow Christ in the service for creation and fellow human beings. The General Synod requests that material be prepared for reflection and use in the parishes; to renew the faith, challenge to involvement and action and strengthen hope. This should also be a central topic in inter-faith dialogues.
- involve and educate Church workers in this field. Parishes will need to cooperate on the deanery level, and lines of communication will have to be established for this work between parishes and the dioceses. Necessary structures will have to be established on the national and regional level. The excellent cooperation with environmental, solidarity and mission organisations must be developed further.
- develop a special field of activity in each diocese, linked to regional specialities (e.g. local food in the Diocese of Nidaros, Sellafield and oil exploration in the Diocese of Sør-Hålogaland).
- challenge employers' and employees' organisations to see their joint responsibility in countering the continued growth of consumption and rather to demonstrate solidarity with our descendants and with people in other parts of the world. The Bishops should lead these efforts.
Download the full text of the General Synod`s decision here (pdf)
The “Protection of Life”-statement from the 1989 Church of Norway General Synod states that: “As a society, we must act from the assumption that the gloomiest prediction of the experts on the moment for the ecological breakdown may prove to be correct. If we choose less radical solutions, we run a dangerous risk.”
In 1992 the report “The Consumer Society as an Ethical Challenge” was presented to the Church of Norway Bishops’ Conference. The Bishops’ Conference passed an extensive statement on the subject, and both the report and the statement attracted attention in the church as well as the political environment and the industry.
The 1996 General Synod treated the issue under the label “Consumption and Justice” and formulated a liturgical greeting in the form of a letter: “The General Synod greets all congregations and councils in the Church of Norway and everyone of good will”. The General Synod sent the resolution to all congregations. In the last resolution point, the General Synod challenged itself and other bodies within the Church of Norway:
“The General Synod encourages the staff and boards at all levels in the Church of Norway, national, diocesan and local, to implement the challenges as described in the letter. Concrete objectives should be formulated for all aspects of the work in the Church, related to the nine mentioned challenges, and there should be regular reportings to evaluate the progress.”
The 1996 resolution addresses nine areas for concrete challenges in the years to come:
In many ways this resolution was the beginning of a comprehensive work both centrally, on the diocesan level and in many congregations. This involvement has been unanimously confirmed and developed further from three General Synods with new compositions. The Church of Norway General Synod i 2001 had another discussion of the theme in light of a comprehensive evaluation of the work so far. The Synod´s resolution said that “The vision must be to make the church the world’s largest environmental movement” and that the subject “Consumption and Justice” concerns the entire congregation.
- The use of church funds,
- Introducing Fair Trade,
- Resource awareness,
- Using time and money,
- The human dimension,
- Indigenous people,
- Debt cancellation for the poorest countries,
- Green tax.
The 2003 General Synod highlighted the subject under the title “Protecting the Sea”. That discussion and the Synod´s resolution particularly dealt with the management of northern waters with a particular focus on the management of fisheries, the fish farming business and oil production. The General Synod in 2003 decided to introduce the celebration of “Creation Day/Creation Period” as an integral part of the ecclesiastical year.
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