A World of Worship
Sunday, as every Christian knows, is a day of rest. Well, for Caroline and I, it was anything but. It did include lots of worship, though!
We went to a Methodist church in one of the townships on the outskirts of Durban. It was a very moving service, and also one of the longest I’ve ever been to (nearly 3 hours!). The congregation was super welcoming, both during the service and after. We all introduced ourselves, and Lungelo (from South Africa) from our group translated the Zulu sermon for us. After the main part of the service, a woman came up and gave an informative talk about HIV/AIDs, including the use of condoms, to the congregation.
After the service, Caroline and I went downtown, back to the Diakonia Centre, for a meeting with KAIROS partners (some of whom are also UCC partners). It was an interesting journey to get there, which involved a jaunt in the back of a pick-up truck throughout the township. I was asked how I got out of the pick-up truck (I was wearing a dress). My answer: gracefully. Really, it was anything but.
Jim Davis, of KAIROS, has written a fabulous blog post on the discussion we had.
Next, we headed over to the interfaith service. Caroline Foster has written a great summary of this service:
The multi-faith service this evening represented the diversity of voices from religions around the world. I especially enjoyed the meditation component where we sent good vibes into the atmosphere for all of creation. Finally, relax. Take three deep, long breaths. Sit comfortably. I will leave you with some words from the service that I hope you can use today to send out your own good vibes:
There is enough for everyone’s needs, but not for everyone’s greed – Gandhi
There were great songs throughout the service, as well as readings and reflections on the scriptures from different faiths. It really showed that, while we have our differences, we can come together on the important issue of climate change.
Then on Monday, I went down to the ICC (International Convention Centre) for the first time. There’s a big part at the entrance to the ICC where anyone can go, filled with cool art installations on climate change and lots of booths on the issue. I’m trying to get accredited, but I’m not yet, so I can’t go right inside, where the other delegates go.
Monday was also the day I went to a Women Religious Leaders and Climate Change panel at the Diakonia Center. The panelists were Ela Ghandi (who happens to be Mahatma Ghandi’s granddaughter) from the World Council of Religions for Peace, Rev. Gugu Shelembe of the Thukela Amajuba Mzinyathi Christian Council, and Rev. Priscilla May McDougal, from the USA (United Church of Christ).
Some key quotes from the participants (note: I’m not sure if I have these written down verbatim):
Ela Ghandi: “I would like to believe that few women are involved in the spread of hatred…We build our faith around love, compassion, goodwill and tolerance.”
Rev. Gugu Shelembe: “We need to reflect theologically, to invite people to understand our call to be stewards of nature…It all begins with me, with my influence on my family.”
Rev. Priscilla May McDougal: “Women have a certain compassion that we are born with, saying ‘This child is mine and I want it to live.'”
The most powerful feeling I was left with, and it was one of despair mixed with a new passion to get things done, was after Rev. McDougal said, while breaking down, “This conference is telling us that in 2020, this won’t be an issue anymore because we’ll all be burned…I have a beautiful granddaughter and I want her to live in a world where she won’t be cooked.
“We need to stop being hopeless. We need to act. Walk to the sea (referring to Ghandi and the salt march).”