As the World Council of Churches executive committee was meeting in-person for the first time in two years, they gather at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute for meetings and prayers.
During a Sunday service on 14 November, they heard a sermon by Bishop Sally Dyck of the United Methodist Church (USA), who spoke on “Neighbors Everywhere.”
Dyck talked about expanding our definition of our neighbor. “Who is our neighbor and how are we called to act in love and justice?” she asked. “When it comes to climate justice, I came to realize, our neighbor is definitely near—others who experience the same drought, intense storms, fires, toxic disasters, and other environmental disasters as we do—and our neighbor is far—on the other side of the country or continent or world.”
From opposite ends of the globe, we have neighbors who are vitally connected to each other, Dyck reflected. “Our neighbors are our grandchildren and their children,” she said. “Our neighbors are those who come after us and rely on us to work for climate justice out of love for them.”
As COP26 ended, Dyck continued, there is the risk of more talk than action to avoid the melting permafrost and the rising sea waters. “As countries return home, especially mine, putting promises into action will make all the difference in the world—literally life or death—for those who live at the poles and all of us in between,” she said. “What action verbs are we implementing to care for our neighbors in the future?”
What will people who contribute the most to carbon emissions sacrifice out of their own means and convenience? “What are our action verbs that insure climate justice for our neighbors—near and far, now and in the future?” she asked. “Everywhere creation is groaning from our lack of action; lack of love and justice; everywhere our neighbors are hurting from climate change; everywhere there is the need to engage in love and justice for our neighbors near and far, now and in the future…yes, everywhere, for everyone.”