Print

Press release: Ash Wednesday Declaration

Bishop Richard Chartres explains the significance of the Ash Wednesday Declaration to Revd Nick Mercer outside St Paul's.

February 2012: Leaders representing the UK's mainstream churches have called for repentance over the prevailing 'shrug-culture' towards climate change.

Rt Hon Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury; Rt Rev Richard Chartres, Bishop of London; Most Rev Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales; Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh and leaders of the Methodist, Baptist and URC churches are among those signing Operation Noah's Ash Wednesday Declaration.

A short public service of prayer and dedication to launch the Declaration was held on Ash Wednesday, 21st February 2012, at St Mary-Le-Bow, Cheapside, London (5pm), and at numerous churches around the country.

'Traditionally, Christians commit themselves to repentance and renewed faith in Jesus Christ on Ash Wednesday,' said David Atkinson, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Southwark. 'We must live out that faith in relation to our damaging consumer economy, over-dependence on fossil fuels and the devastation we, as a species, are inflicting on God's world. We believe that responsible care for God's creation is foundational to the Gospel and central to the church's mission.'

The Declaration, also signed by Most Rev Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, is framed around seven biblical themes and argues that, to be a Christian is to accept the call to radical discipleship and to work through the implications for church life of a real change in lifestyle.

Mary Grey, Emeritus Professor of Theology at the University of Wales, believes the Declaration - subtitled 'Climate Change and the Purposes of God: a call to the Church' - comes at a key moment.

'A second Earth Summit is being prepared and the world seems apathetic towards the real threat to all planetary life,' said Professor Grey.

Bishop David, who leads Operation Noah's theological think tank, points to specific, historical confessions calling the church back to its biblical and theological foundations - notably, the Barmen Declaration of the confessing church in Nazi Germany.

'Various confessions also addressed apartheid in South Africa,' he said. 'We believe that this is a time of urgency for the church. The threat of runaway climate change is the most significant moral question facing us today.'