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Saturday, 5 December 2015

Notre Dame de Paris filled with people praying for the future of creation

Thousands gathered last Thursday evening 4 December in the 850 year old Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. They were Christians, pilgrims and many others who were engaged in the Climate Summit in Paris, and those who simply wished to part of this ecumenical prayer service for the future of our planet.

The service was organised by the Council of Churches of France and the three Co-Presidents, Pasteur François Clavairoly (Protestant), Metropolitan Emmanuel (Orthodox) and Archbishop Georges Pontier (RC) led major parts of the service. The welcome was given by Cardinal AndrĂ© Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris. When he invited the assembly to share a sign of peace, the Cathedral was filled with voices of many nations greeting each other as one family.

Over 50 church leaders from around the world joined in the procession, including 6 Anglican bishops. Several Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church were present, a good representation of Orthodox bishops and others from Lutheran and Protestant Churches. The Archbishop of Uppsala, Antje JackelĂ©n, read the Gospel in English.

Anglican Bishops Marc Andrus (California), Nick Holtam (Salisbury), Hamid, Fred Hiltz (Archbishop and Primate of Canada), Pierre Whalon (Convocation of TEC in Europe), John Stroyan (Warwick), with Canon Dr Leslie Nathaniel
The liturgy was a rich service of psalmody, prayer and music, including choirs from Notre Dame, the Orthodox Church and a Malgache Protestant choir. The homily by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was read by Metropolitan Emmanuel. Unfortunately, the Patriarch had to cancel his attendance at the last moment. In his message, the 'Green Patriarch' underlined the need for conversion of hearts if we are to preserve our creation, stressing that Christians are called to lead in this as we are called to be the salt of the Earth and the light of the world.

Malgache Choir
A colourful procession of signs of creation was a highlight. Young people from around the world carried olive oil, a piece of pottery, cotton and flax, a musical instrument and a boat. At the end of this procession a large blue globe was brought forward as these words were read: "We are aware that creation is a gift entrusted to us and that we are responsible to future generations for the whole Earth."

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