- Time for Creation: "Robust Hope"
- Thanksgiving: Good News on Transparency
- Short Update: Praying for the Middle East
- Short Note: Ebola
- Preview: Racial Justice Sunday
Speaking the truth about sin. It's often uncomfortable, but the passages from Ezekiel and the Gospel in this week's Revised Common Lectionary readings call on believers to do it - with each other and with the wider community - as a first step towards repentance and reconciliation. How ready are we to speak? And how ready to hear when we are spoken to?
Time for Creation: Robust Hope
"Today, we are in the midst of major biodiversity loss and extinction. There is an accelerating pace of deforestation worldwide. Exposed hillsides are vulnerable to subsidence and in tropical areas, the soils are quickly degraded. In many places, denuded scrub and landslips have replaced fertile forests. In addition, the impact of climate change is catapulting every creature on Earth into an unknown and unpredictable future. Is there any hope?"
This is the question posed by theologian Margot Hodson in her reflection "Why I care about the environment" (attached). In response to the question, Margot introduces the concept of "robust hope," a hope that grows from suffering and perseverance, that can endure, and that "brings the ultimate hope of restored harmony of creation into the present." Read the reflection to find out more, and ...
- in thanksgiving for the gift of creation and the hope that we have in Christ
- that all people will understand the need to care for creation, and will take action to do so
- that Christians may embrace the challenge of "bringing new creation to our suffering world."
Further Resources: Elizabeth Perry, whose pictures were so popular last week, has offered us three pictures and verses (attached) to assist with reflection on this week's Time for Creation material.
This piece is the first in a pilot project. CCOW is commissioning short essays entitled ‘Why I care about….’ in which Christian experts write about what motivates them to care about their particular area of concern, and how their Christian faith informs that passion. We hope that these deliberately short essays will be used for personal reflection, small group discussion, reproduced in church magazines and used in church services. Please feel free to share them with your friends, colleagues and congregations. If you want to reprint this reflection and would find a Word version helpful, please email us.
Thanksgiving: Good News on Transparency
We are currently seeing remarkable progress in making extractive industries more transparent. Last summer, the EU published revised Accounting and Transparency directives (AD text) that will require EU-listed and large privately owned companies in the extractive industries and forestry to publish what they are paying governments on a country by country and project by project level … and to do so in a standardised format so that civil society groups can access the information and use it to fight corruption.
Each EU member state is responsible for introducing legislation to implement the directives, and the hope has been that all would do so quickly. A few weeks ago, the UK government took the lead and announced regulations to implement the Accounting Directive. The new regulations require large UK-based extractive companies to disclose payments of £86,000 and above on a project-by-project basis in all countries, without any country exemptions. Companies that fail to report fully, truthfully and accurately will face criminal penalties. Companies will be required to start reporting their payments from 1 January 2015; the data will be publicly available from 2016 onwards. (Coverage: Publish What You Pay; Global Witness)
While concerned about clauses that enable the Secretary of State to veto criminal prosecutions for non-compliance, transparency campaigners have welcomed the UK Government's moves, and hope that the high standard they set will be met by other countries.
Why does all this matter? To take an example, anti-corruption group Global Witness recently revealed that its search of corporate filings in the US showed that BP and its partners have paid about $175 million dollars to the Angolan national oil company Sonangol for a research centre ... of whose existence Global Witness could find no evidence. (Global Witness, Forbes) With increased disclosure of payments, the hope is that anti-corruption campaigners will be able to increase transparency, accountability ... and people's ability to benefit from their countries' natural resources.
- give thanks for the UK's rapid implementation of the Accounting Directive and pray that any remaining questions may be resolved well
- give thanks for the work of everyone - individual campaigners, campaigning groups, academic experts, supporters within government and industry - who has contributed to the transparency successes
- pray for the process of implementation in other countries, including France and Germany
- pray that the EU's action may strengthen the resolve of other countries considering legislation, such as Canada (background, recent update) and Australia ... and may have a positive impact on the ongoing work on implementing the Dodd-Frank legislation in the US (background, recent update)
- pray for increased transparency and integrity in Angola's government
Action: Could you campaign on transparency? Sign up to hear from Publish What You Pay or campaign with Christian Aid, Tearfund, or ONE ...
Short Update: Praying for the Middle East
The news this week continues to call for prayer ... and in addition to the prayers in "In Times of Conflict," we'd suggest the following new resources ...
If you are praying for Syria:
It's worth noting that in addition to the much-reported issues around the Islamic State, there continue to be reports of civilians dying in attacks by the Syrian government and other armed groups - please keep all caught up in the conflict in your prayers.
If you are praying for Iraq generally and for the Christian community displaced by the Islamic State:
A prayer for Iraq written by Archbishop Louis Raphael Sako, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch
Please don't forget to give thanks for the many people and groups - including churches and religious communities - who are offering assistance to people who have been displaced. Thank God especially for those communities and churches that are witnessing to Christ by living out Christ's commandment to love our neighbours.
If you are praying for the region as a whole:
Tearfund's prayer for the Middle East, written by a staff member in Jordan, also available as a prayer powerpoint.
Action: could you donate to one of the many agencies that is active in providing assistance to communities affected by the violence in the Middle East? Many are dealing with multiple humanitarian crises that are straining their resources.
As the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to claim lives and create widespread social and economic disruption, please continue to pray:
- for those who are affected by the Ebola outbreak, especially those who are infected, have lost loved ones, or are living precariously because of the economic and social disruption associated with the outbreak
- for those who are trying to assist the affected and contain the outbreak (There's a very moving account of a young "burial boy" here)
- that faith groups may assist in spreading public health messages and strengthening good practice in their communities
A number of medical experts have also emphasised the extent to which the outbreak highlights global inequalities in healthcare - both in terms of funding to develop basic healthcare systems and in terms of research and development relating to neglected diseases. (Lancet editorial, Paul Farmer interview) The Lancet has further noted that the WHO's much-criticised response to the crisis might well have been affected by severe recent cuts in its funding.
- that countries with developed health systems will offer more assistance to those fighting the outbreak in West Africa
- that governments, businesses and individuals around the globe will provide increased funding for neglected diseases, the creation of stronger and more resilient health systems in individual countries, and the global rapid-response system
- in thanksgiving for the dedicated work of health professionals and researchers working in the affected countries
Preview: Racial Justice Sunday
Next weekend, Sunday 14th September, is Racial Justice Sunday. This year the resources are from the Welsh churches and encourage Christians and churches to reflect on the welcome they can offer to minorities in their midst, particularly migrants fleeing conflicts and persecution.
Next week's email will have this as a focus, but if you would like to prepare, a church service plan including several Celtic prayers can be found on the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland website.