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Global Evangelicals Side with Pope’s Concern for Climate Change

The Lausanne Movement, representing evangelical Christians in almost 200 countries, announced today its anticipation of, and gratitude for, the papal encyclical Laudato Sii on climate change and the environment due to be released Thursday by Pope Francis. “We evangelicals will be eagerly reading ‘over the shoulders,’ so to speak, of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics […]

The Lausanne Movement, representing evangelical Christians in almost 200 countries, announced today its anticipation of, and gratitude for, the papal encyclical Laudato Sii on climate change and the environment due to be released Thursday by Pope Francis. “We evangelicals will be eagerly reading ‘over the shoulders,’ so to speak, of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to whom the letter is addressed,” said Ed Brown, director of the Creation Care Network within Lausanne. “While there are small marginal groups within evangelical Christianity who are often quoted in the press in opposition to climate change action, almost all major global evangelical bodies including the Lausanne Movement have declared their commitment to care for God’s creation and to serve the poor affected by climate change impacts.”

The Lausanne Movement first addressed climate change during Cape Town 2010, the third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, in what has been called the most representative gathering of Christian leaders in the 2000 year history of the Christian movement (Christianity Today). Four thousand Christian leaders representing 198 countries attended the Congress in Cape Town, South Africa and collaborated to produce the Cape Town Commitment, which among its many declarations about the care of God’s creation includes this specific comment on climate change: “Probably the most serious and urgent challenge faced by the physical world now is the threat of climate change. This will disproportionately affect those in poorer countries, for it is there that climate extremes will be most severe and where there is little capability to adapt to them. World poverty and climate change need to be addressed together and with equal urgency.” (Cape Town Commitment II.B.6)

A subsequent Lausanne Consultation on Creation Care and Gospel which met in St. Ann, Jamaica in 2012 produced a Call to Action which urged the world’s evangelical Christians towards: “Radical action to confront climate change. Affirming the Cape Town Commitment’s declaration of the ‘serious and urgent challenge of climate change’ which will ‘disproportionately affect those in poorer countries’, (CTC II.B.6), we call for action in radically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building resilient communities. We understand these actions to be an application of the command to deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Christ.”

Since then, climate change has been addressed at every regional conference that comprises Lausanne’s on-going Global Campaign on Creation Care and the Gospel. Members of the Lausanne Creation Care Network from around the world will be traveling to Paris this December to be present at the COP 21 Climate Change negotiations. “Our focus in Paris,” Brown says, “will be on prayer, on the discipleship of a new generation of Christian climate activists, and on communicating back to churches everywhere that, while man-made climate change is real and urgent, our hope is in Jesus Christ, the creator, sustainer, and redeemer of all creation.”

Michael Oh, Executive Director/CEO of the Lausanne Movement, states, “We urge all followers of Christ to recognize that care of creation is indeed ‘a gospel issue within the Lordship of Christ’ as The Cape Town Commitment affirms. I hope this significant statement from Pope Francis will be an opportunity for many to join our Lausanne Creation Care Network as they seek to address today’s environmental crisis in the context of God’s global mission.” The Lausanne Movement is just one global body of evangelicals to make such an affirmation. The World Evangelical Alliance and A Rocha International will also be issuing statements of support for Pope Francis and the encyclical Laudato Sii.

BACKGROUND
Lausanne is a global movement that mobilizes evangelical leaders to collaborate for world evangelization. It grew out of the 1974 International Congress on World Evangelization convened in Lausanne, Switzerland, by Rev Billy Graham and Bishop Jack Dain. John Stott was chief architect of The Lausanne Covenant. The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (October 2010) in Cape Town, South Africa, brought together 4,000 Christian leaders representing 198 countries. The resulting Cape Town Commitment serves as the blueprint for the Movement’s activities.

RELATED LINKS
The Cape Town Commitment
Section II B 6: “Christ’s peace for his suffering creation.”
Section I 7 A: “We love God’s World.”
Lausanne Creation Care Network
Jamaica Creation Care Call to Action