11/21/2013 12:00:00 AM
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is committed to supporting people who live in poverty and are impacted by extreme weather events, such as the recent typhoon that struck the Philippines. Many who live in poverty are disproportionately affected by changes in climate, which affects their lives and livelihood.
"Climate change is already impacting communities around the world, and the people and places that are most affected are those who live in poverty," according to Mary Minette, ELCA director for environmental education and advocacy.
"Wealthy countries have the means to withstand the intense storms, droughts and other impacts of a warming world, but vulnerable communities, like those in the Philippines who have been devastated by the recent typhoon, have fewer resources to rebuild their lives and communities," said Minette, who is attending the 19th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Nov. 11-22 in Warsaw, Poland. Minette is a delegate with Action for Churches Together Alliance. The ELCA is a member of the alliance.
Participants of the conference are discussing the framework for a global response to climate change, which includes the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions as well as actions to help vulnerable communities adapt to the changing climate.
"[Vulnerable communities] need a global commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to ensure that storms such as this do not become the norm, and they also need help to adapt to the impacts of climate change that are already occurring," said Minette.
A delegation of The Lutheran World Federation to the conference has decided to fast in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable who are affected by extreme weather events. This effort is being led by the young adults of the delegation. The action is in response to the Philippine representative Yeb Saño, who told the conference he would take up a voluntary fast until there is significant response to global climate change.
The Rev. Martin Junge, general secretary of The Lutheran World Federation and its president, the Rev. Munib A. Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, along with vice presidents from Africa, Asia, Europe and North America are joining the action, and the federation is inviting member churches to participate in this initiative to fast for one day during the course of the conference. The Lutheran World Federation is a global communion of 142 member churches in 79 countries worldwide. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.
"We are praying and fasting for the victims and survivors of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, as well as other people affected by extreme weather events all around the world, which are increasing in frequency and intensity due to climate change. Together, we call to the members of delegations and organizations at the 19th U.N. Conference on Climate Change and people of faith around the world to join us in this fasting for one day," the delegation said in a statement.
"Climate change is an important priority for Lutheran Disaster Response International,"
said Vitaly Vorona, ELCA program director for international disaster response. He said the disaster ministry "pays special attention to disaster risk reduction and climate smart community disaster management. In 2013, Lutheran Disaster Response International supported The Lutheran World Federation disaster-risk reduction trainings with 14 member churches in disaster-prone areas," said Vorona.
The storm in the Philippines "destroyed agricultural fields in many provinces of Philippines," said Vitaly. "ELCA partners continue needs assessment on the ground. According to the (United Nations') Philippines report, 2.5 million people are in need of food assistance. The provision of emergency food to families affected by the typhoon is the ELCA's major priority," said Vorona.
Minette said those who are impacted by extreme weather "will need our prayers, our assistance, and our commitment to combat climate change to recover from this storm and survive the stronger storms and rising sea levels that the future will bring."
The ELCA's social statement "Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice" expresses a call to pursue justice for creation through active participation, solidarity, sufficiency and sustainability and states the commitments of the ELCA for pursuing wholeness for creation -- commitments expressed through individual and community action, worship, learning, moral deliberation and advocacy.
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org