Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Greenland, Icebergs and...the Greek Orthodox Church?

Greenland, icebergs and…the Greek Orthodox Church? You betcha. Last September Patriarch Bartholomew sponsored his seventh water-borne symposium in the series “Religion, Science and the Environment.” The Patriarch is committed to being a good steward. To that end he has sponsored symposia around the world. This past symposium was titled, “The Arctic: Mirror of Life.”

The symposium highlighted a timely ecological crisis while bringing together religious leaders from around the world. They included Jews, Christians, Jains, Sikh, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus. For this year Inuit and Saami leaders from the arctic also joined the symposium.

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew lead the leaders in common prayer. The icebergs and the coast of Greenland were the backdrop for this group of world spiritual leaders. While the services were moving the reason for being there was sobering.

The most dramatic change was been the rapid rate at which the ice shelf is melting. The ice shelf is the smallest on record and the meltage is believed to be the result of global warming. The loss of ice will effect the culture and way of life of the Greenlanders. It will also result in rising water around the world. The fear is that the result will be the disappearance of smaller island nations and the swamping of lowland coastal areas such as Bangladesh and Florida.

The members of the symposium sailed around Greenland, a trip of over 750 miles. The trip ended with services at the ruins of Tjodhilde’s Church. This is the site of the first church in North America. It was built in 1000 C.E. by Eric the Red’s wife, Tjodhilde.

Patriarch Bartholomew stated, “What must immediately take place is repentance, together with the change of life that accompanies repentance.” May it be so.

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