We are delighted that the Communion Forest has got off to a great start! We are beginning to hear about how bishops are taking the initiative back to their dioceses and taking action. For example, immediately after the Lambeth Conference, the bishops of Iowa (USA), Swaziland (Eswatini) and Brechin (Scotland) planted a tree for the Communion Forest in celebration of their three-way companionship link.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the world in Brisbane, Australia, Bishop Jeremy Greaves presented trees to those he received into Anglican Church at the Lakes Anglican Church as his contribution to the Communion Forest.
The Anglican Church of Southern Africa pledged its support for the Communion Forest in a resolution passed by its Provincial Standing Committee and requested each diocese to commit to tree growing and incorporating tree or plant growing as part of confirmations, baptisms, marriages, funerals, patronal festivals, conferences and other events.
Already, dioceses and organisations within the province are taking action. Bishop Marajh of the Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman planted a tree in memory of his late parents at St Francis Parish, Kimberley, described as “a powerful moment of launching the Communion Forest in the Diocese”. The Anglican Youth Guild of the Diocese of Mthatha in South Africa heard about the Communion Forest at their annual conference and planted two palm trees to form part it.
In Lesotho, Eco-culture (the Diocese of Lesotho’s environmental care body) organised an ecumenical ecological walk and prayer service on 1st October in a forest that needs protecting. In September, they worked with members of Mother’s Union in the Cathedral of St James and St Mary’s Parish in Maseru to establish an orchard.
The Episcopal Church of the Philippines (ECP) has also embraced the Communion Forest. In his recent address to the Executive Council, Prime Bishop Brent Alawas reflected on the Lambeth Conference and how they can already start acting on some of the calls. He said, “First, there is the Anglican Communion Forest symbolically launched through the planting of a tree seedling at the garden of Lambeth Palace. This is a global initiative that affirms and enhances the various activities of forest protection, tree growing and eco-system restoration being undertaken by provinces, diocese and individual congregations to safeguard the integrity of creation.
He continued, “This is not a new thing for us in the ECP as we see not only our individual members planting trees and doing various activities towards ecological protection but also we now have a collective forest of 150,000 trees planted by our congregations and communities participating in our carbon offset program since 2013. One distinguishing feature of this program is the commitment of participants to ensure that trees planted will not be the first casualty of any developmental activity. Too often we see trees planted and growing nicely but are cut down with no qualms to make way for church buildings and other physical structures. Our program therefore comes with a long range visualizing and intentional planting of these trees in areas with the lowest potential for future physical development activity, such as boundaries, roadsides and open spaces not suitable for developmental purposes. We shall intensify this program which now forms part of the Anglican Communion Forest.”
We have also heard of many more environmental initiatives, which, whilst not explicitly Communion Forest projects, are very much the kinds of things the Communion Forest exists to encourage. For example:
- In the USA, the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California is urging its churches to undertake community partnerships, with a special emphasis on how church land is used for the benefit of others. Many community gardens have been established as a result.
- In Kenya, the Revd Dennis Nthenge Baraka described how pleased he was to take part in the planting of 50 trees (mostly fruit trees) at All Saints Primary School, Nairobi, with the Mission Director of All Saints Cathedral Diocese and climate activist Elizabeth Wathuti in attendance.
- In Mozambique, orange trees were planted at the enthronement of Bishop Augustinho Buque at the Cathedral of St. Augustinho in Maciene.
Please share your stories with us, so we can highlight them on the Communion Forest Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts: firstname.lastname@example.org