Goroka Declaration on Christians and the Environment
Interfaith document, 23 May 2003:
An inter-church commitment to care for the environment in Papua New Guinea - undergirded by the Evangelical Alliance of PNG
We Christian leaders who have met in Goroka for a week (May 25-30, 2003) of consultation on the theology of the environment declare that from now on we are making a serious commitment to promoting care of the environment in PNG through education, advocacy, motivation and practical support. We will preach the message in our churches and provide a variety of relevant written materials.
As followers of Jesus Christ, committed to the full authority of the Scriptures, we confess we have not always taken an active and positive role in the solution of our ecological problems. We are aware that many environment conservation initiatives are being undertaken by individuals and organisations, both government and non government, and we acknowledge and applaud these efforts. We believe it is now time for the churches to play their part more strongly than in the past, and therefore we commit ourselves to acting strongly and wisely to this end, giving full consideration to our special cultural and physical context.
We declare that:
• Because we worship and honour the Creator, we seek to cherish and care for the creation.
• Because we have been ignorant we have failed in our stewardship of creation; therefore we repent of the way we have allowed the destruction of the Creator's work.
• Because, in Christ, God has healed our alienation from God and extended to us the first fruits of the reconciliation of all things, we commit ourselves to working in the power of the Holy Spirit to share the Good News of Christ in word and deed, to work for the reconciliation of all people in Christ, and to extend Christ's healing to suffering creation.
• Because we are called to be stewards of God's creation as commanded in Genesis 1:28 and 2:15, we commit ourselves to action that is caring, informed and constructive.
Many concerned people, convinced that environmental problems are more spiritual than technological, are exploring the world's ideologies and religions in search of non-Christian spiritual resources for the healing of the earth. As followers of Jesus Christ, we believe that the Bible calls us to respond in four ways:
• First, God calls us to confess and repent of attitudes which devalue creation, and which twist or ignore biblical revelation to support our misuse of it. Forgetting that 'the earth is the Lord's', we have often simply used creation and forgotten our responsibility to care for it.
• Second, our actions and attitudes towards the earth need to proceed from the centre of our faith, and be rooted in the fullness of God's revelation in Christ and the Scriptures. We resist both ideologies which would presume the Gospel has nothing to do with the care of non-human creation and also ideologies which would reduce the Gospel to nothing more than the care of that creation.
• Third, we seek carefully to learn all that the Bible tells us about the Creator, creation, and the human task. In our life and words we declare that full good news for all creation which is still waiting 'with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God' (Rom. 8:19).
• Fourth, we seek to understand what creation reveals about God's divinity, sustaining presence, and everlasting power, and what creation teaches us of its God-given order and the principles by which it works.
We believe that in Christ there is hope, not only for men, women and children, but also for the rest of creation which is suffering from the consequences of human sin.
• Therefore we call upon all Christians to reaffirm that all creation is God's; that God created it good; and that God is renewing it in Christ.
• We encourage deeper reflection on the substantial biblical and theological teaching which speaks of God's work of redemption in terms of the renewal and completion of God's purpose in creation.
• We seek a deeper reflection on the wonders of God's creation and the principles by which creation works. We also urge a careful consideration of how our corporate and individual actions respect and comply with God's ordinances for creation.
• We encourage Christians to incorporate the extravagant creativity of God into their lives by increasing the nurturing role of beauty and the arts in their personal, ecclesiastical, and social patterns.
• We urge individual Christians and churches to be centres of creation's care and renewal, both delighting in creation as God's gift, and enjoying it as God's provision, in ways which sustain and heal the damaged fabric of the creation which God has entrusted to us.
• We recall Jesus' words that our lives do not consist in the abundance of our possessions, and therefore we urge followers of Jesus to resist the allure of wastefulness and over-consumption by making personal lifestyle choices that express humility, forbearance, self-restraint and frugality.
• We call on Christians to work for godly, just, and sustainable economies which reflect God's sovereign economy and enable men, women and children to flourish along with all the diversity of creation. We recognize that poverty forces people to degrade creation in order to survive; therefore we support the development of just, free economies which empower the poor and create abundance without diminishing creation's bounty.
• We commit ourselves to work for responsible public policies which embody the principles of biblical stewardship of creation.
• We invite Christians - individuals, congregations and organizations - to join with us in this Christian declaration on the environment, becoming a covenant people in an ever-widening circle of biblical care for creation.
• We call upon Christians to listen to and work with all those who are concerned about the healing of creation, with an eagerness both to learn from them and also to share with them our conviction that the God whom all people sense in creation (Acts 17:27) is known fully only in the Word made flesh in Christ the living God, who made and sustains all things.
• We make this declaration knowing that until Christ returns to reconcile all things, we are called to be faithful stewards of God's good garden, our earthly home.
Belden Kepi, Research & Conservation Foundation
Pastor Boisen Asi , Christian Revival Crusade
Bishop Clarence Kapali, United Church Highlands Region
Bishop Denys Ririka , Anglican Church of PNG
Major Dinunu Nenewa, The Salvation Army
Pastor George Manman, Christian Outreach Centre
Pastor Gireva Gireva, Christian Life Centre (Pinewood Ch.)
Pastor Martin Wayne, Baptist Union of PNG
Pastor Mathew Tapus, Christian Apostolic Fellowhip
Captain Patrick Wascu, The Salvation Army
Pastor Simon Agateva, Open Bible Church
Pastor Simil Hondolwa, Tiliba (Good News) Christian Church
Rev. Siulangi Kavora, United Church Goroka
Rev. Taiya Zawia, St John's Lutheran Church, Gka
Pastor Tamat Irarue, Lihona Village Representative (CLC)
Pastor Wilson Reré, Foursquare Church
David Kima, EAPNG, General Secretary
30 May 2003