The Church of Sweden is with 6 million members the largest member-based organisation in Sweden and the largest Lutheran denomination in Europe. In november, the General Synod decided to approve a motion to include Rights of Nature into education across the board in the organisation.
Anna Karin Hammar, Reverend, PhD in theology and member of the Genereal Synod who wrote the motion togehter with Bishop Eva Nordung Byström, says:
– It is my conviction that we must change our view of nature to see us all as God’s Creation and carriers of God’s holiness. Only then can we care for each other. In that mindset, the rights of nature have an obvious place, says Anna Karin Hammar. We wrote the motion because we are members of the Sami Council of the Swedish Church, and the Sami Parliament has in 2018 endorsed the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth. We listen to the indigenous peoples who in turn take advice from Nature.
Education is one of the four foundational ministries of Church of Sweden (the others are Worship, Diakonia and Mission). This year, the General Synod had education as the overarching theme, as knowledge about Christian faith is diminishing in Sweden. The decision to include of Rights of Nature is thus taken at the same time as a renewed focus on education of the Church of Sweden, and the General Synod is now calling upon parishes, dioceses and the whole Church for a unique effort on education and learning.
From the report of the meeting:
The motion proposes that the General Synod commissions the Board to promote climate issues and information on Rights of Nature in the programme on learning and education. The committe believes that the motion is timely and that climate change and rights of nature shall be treated from an understanding of Trinity and Creation theology, and with a special respect for indigenous perspectives. The committe therefore recommends the General Synod to approve the motion.
-This is a very exciting decision, says Pella Thiel, coordinator of Rights of Nature Sweden. You might not think so, but the Christian Church is at the forefront in the understanding of the need for the societal transformation that science is now calling for. The Pope has just called for ecocide as a international crime, the letter of the swedish Bishops on climate issues is questioning the anthropocentric worldview and within World Council of Churches there is an initiative for Rights of Nature at the very higest level, including endorsement of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. The ecological crisis is a challenge to our cultural understanding of ourselves and the world, and the Church of Sweden has a deep understanding of such existential issues. We will do our best to support this inspiring decision.