A diverse group of selected faith leaders from four provinces in South Africa met virtually on Thursday 20 May to launch a three-year project in eco advocacy.
The Faith and Energy Eco-Justice project has four geographically diverse legs – in Greater Cape Town, Karoo, Eastern Cape and Western Cape. The groups will work separately on eco-justice issues relevant to their areas, and then come together to share experiences, insights and learnings and to explore the interconnectivity of their respective focus areas.
The project contains elements of information sharing both at community level and at government level, so that groups become a conduit for transformative policy change by letting policy makers know what people are asking for.
The faith leaders who were accepted for the project gathered to introduce themselves to each other and start thinking together about eco-justice, climate change and the signifance of the faith voice in eco-justice. They discussed whether eco advocacy is a scripturally defined function of the faith leader. All present agreed that there is a moral imperative on the faith leader to speak for the earth and to consciously teach and preach about humanity’s relationship with and treatment of nature. Humanity sees itself as separate from nature, but yet is fully dependent on it.
The meeting was opened with a prayer by Rev Berry Behr who will lead the project. SAFCEI Executive Director Francesca de Gasparis then set the context by telling some of SAFCEI’s story over the past 16 years, and invited the Faith Leaders to consider some of the eco-justice issues of our times that had both national and local impact.
We asked each person to give their name, their area, and a colour that represented how they felt that day. Most also added information about their skills, qualifications and passion, making us realise that once again SAFCEI has attracted a wide range of highly experienced, motivated and skilled faith leaders who bring a passionate desire for continued engagement into this space of peer learning.
We also noted that the Covid-19 pandemic 3rd wave would make us need to think creatively about how to develop this project as we may not be able to undertake the planned site visits this year.
By the end of the session the faith leaders were already engaging in their respective geographic groups and brainstorming about what they would like to achieve in their three year engagement together.
Rev Berry Behr
SAFCEI Faith Leader Liaison