Zambian minister urges care for our "community of creation"

A Zambian minister, who is an expert in the theology of caring for creation, visited Scotland this week as a guest of the World Mission Council, to see how churches are working together to solve the problems of climate change.

Rev Dr Lackshon Chiyube
Rev Dr Lackshon Chiyube examines the snow pack. Photo by Rev Donald Walker.

Rev Dr Lackson Chibuye, United Church of Zambia minister for the 900-member Chelston Church in the Zambian capital Lusaka, as well as a suburban church with 350 members and a village church of 50 people, has studied the environmental impact of copper mining as part of his doctorate degree in Eco-Theology.

“What I recognised is that the Church must have a voice in whatever we do to the environment and we have a voice in the lifestyle we choose to live,” he says. “We must think of ourselves as a community of creation.”

Religion guides science

During his visit, Dr Chiyube travelled to Aviemore, Cromarty and Selkirk, met representatives of the Scottish Parliament’s climate change committee and spoke to the Scottish International Development Alliance about the relationship between religion and science.

“I told them that while science informs religion, religion guides science in the ethical way to go about its work,” Dr Chibuye said. “They were very happy to hear that the church is interested in mitigating climate change.

“Development without paying attention to our environment may not be sustainable.”

Praise for Eco-Congregation Scotland

Dr Chibuye said he was impressed by the energy efficient design of Selkirk Parish Church and to hear about the work Christian Aid is doing in Bolivia, through the Guild-supported Caring for Mother Earth project.

Now, he says, he will take back some things he has learned in Scotland to help his work in Zambia.

“When I return we want to implement a project and we need to work with other churches. Eco Congregation Scotland is not just one church it is an ecumenical movement and I want to replicate that in Zambia.

“We’d like to promote tree planting and identify people in congregations across the country who want to be involved in being stewards of creation.

“I have developed worship materials on caring for the earth and caring for its creatures and I hope to translate them into other Zambian languages.”

A first sight of snow

While in Aviemore, Dr Chiyube looked at how climate change is affecting the Cairngorms National Park and the measures being taken to prevent the park from being damaged. It also gave him his first experience of snow.

“That was very fascinating,” he says. “We never get snow in Zambia. It snows a little in South Africa but never in these quantities.”