A worldwide environmental initiative – set to include tree planting, the creation of wetlands, and coastal restoration projects – was launched today by the Lambeth Conference.
Bishops from across the globe pledged their support for the Communion Forest as part of a focus on the environment.
Each area of the Anglican Communion will decide locally how they wish to create and enhance landscape protection.
This will mean the “Forest” could include woodland, grasslands, meadows, wetlands, coastal habitats and more.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, spoke of the possibility of the Communion Forest becoming the “most widespread and diverse” environmental project in the world.
Archbishop Julio Murray, Primate of Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America (IARCA), who leads the Anglican Communion delegation to the COP meetings on climate change, spoke to bishops.
He said: “The response to the climate crisis has been inadequate, in the level of resources and in the level of urgency.
“With this as part of the facts, here we are: Bishops of the Anglican Communion at the Lambeth Conference, we will have an opportunity to prepare a call to government leaders and other actors, to re-imagine actions and strategies to slow down the devastating effects on the life of human beings, locally and globally.
He added that the Church could “be influencers” on the issue of climate justice.
Bishops were meeting in London as part of a day focussing on the environment.
The Conference discussed two Lambeth Calls on environmental protection and sustainable development.
Both Calls will be taken forward for Stage Three of the Lambeth Conference.
In a video message António Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, said: “Your inspiring teams, summoning us to walk, listen, and witness together, offers a blueprint for progress.
“It calls upon all people to bring value to life not through words but through action and service to others and to deliver economic and environmental justice,” he said.
“By living these values every day we can move one step closer to the sustainable, equal and just world that every person deserves.”
The first tree of the Communion Forest was planted in the Lambeth Palace garden by Archbishops Justin and Julio, together with the Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba and Elizabeth Wathuti, a Kenyan environmental activist.
Archbishop Justin said: “Scripture is full of rich descriptions of our natural world and God’s love for His creation.
“It’s the call of the Church to treasure this gift, to stand alongside our brothers and sisters around the Anglican Communion who are already affected by climate change, and to safeguard the environment upon which all of us depend.
“I pray the tree planted today in Lambeth Palace will be the beginning of one of the world’s most widespread and diverse environmental projects.
“We hope to see landscape protection and care for creation exhibited by churches and parishes in every corner of the world as a historic legacy of the 2022 Lambeth Conference.
“Sharing the love of Christ in a suffering world means standing together to shine light and hope in the darkness and despair.
“This is at the heart of the mission of the Church and the work of the Lambeth Conference.”
Earlier in the day, The Queen dent a personal message to the Lambeth Conference.
She said: “We also live in a time when the effects of climate change are threatening the lives and livelihoods of many people and communities, not least the poorest and those less able to adapt and adjust.”
Churches can find resources and begin involvement with the Communion Forest through the official website.