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Humanity needs to tend the garden of creation, says WCC leader

05 June 2015

Humanity cannot ignore its responsibility for creation, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, has stated in Stuttgart during the German Protestant Kirchentag.

“We can care for the garden or we can destroy the garden of life,” Tveit said in a sermon at a 4 June service during Germany’s biggest Protestant gathering, which meets every two years.

“We are dependent upon what other parts of nature provide – nutrition, fresh air, light, water and material for shelter and heating,” he said at the service on the theme of “justice and peace within one world.”

The service was organized by Bread for the World – Protestant Development Service, Germany’s main Protestant humanitarian and development agency. It was opened by Bread for the World’s president, the Rev. Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel.

In her introduction, she noted how, particularly in the countries of the South, the diversity of traditional wild plants and cultivated crops is being increasingly squeezed out to make way for global food production. “In this service we want to affirm the richness and diversity that our creator has given to creation,” she said.

Tveit and Füllkrug-Weitzel were joined in leading the service by the Rev. Chris Ferguson, general secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches,  Archbishop Ephraim Fajutagana of the Philippine Independent Church and the Rev. Yusuf Wushishi, general secretary of the Christian Council of Nigeria.

The WCC general secretary recalled in his sermon how his great grandfather, who was also named Olav Tveit, had bought a small piece of land to cultivate in order to provide for his family. “He had to work extremely hard. In his life and work, there had to be an understanding of the relationship of human beings in creation.”

In fact, the name Tveit means “a place in the forest cleared for something to grow” and to live, he said.

Cultivating, sowing and planting, said Tveit, are “an expression of faith in the power of God to create life through the work of our hands.”

The power of God’s grace and forgiveness, he continued, “can renew our generation, our people, our political leaders.” It “can transform us to see the decisions that are necessary to change, to reverse climate change, to ensure the right to food for all, and the right to enjoy clean water, clean air, clean soil.”

Read the sermon by Olav Fykse Tveit in English or in German

Thousands gather in Stuttgart for Germany’s festival of faith and action (WCC press release of 4 June 2015)

Video message by Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel for the WCC Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace

WCC blog: Environment day and the pilgrimage of justice and peace

Bread for the World website

Kirchentag website