CHURCH LEADERS and environmental campaigners believe a unique ‘round-table’ discussion in Bahrain has helped them to unite and work together in a bid to help the community live in a more sustainable fashion.
Joel Kelling, the Anglican Alliance’s ‘facilitator for the Middle East’, travelled from his base in Amman, the capital city of Jordan, to address the recent inaugural gathering at St Christopher’s Junior School in Saar.
The round-table session was hosted by The Very Reverend and Venerable Dr Bill Schwartz, Dean of St Christopher’s Cathedral, who said: “The discussion was very helpful both for learning what kinds of environmental initiatives are taking place in Bahrain and identifying other ways that the community can contribute to sustainability of the environment.
“We discussed ways we can cooperate together and agreed to develop some new initiatives. We hope to meet again soon to give substance to the ideas we bounced back and forth.
“It’s important that you know it wasn’t the kind of meeting where there were proposals and resolutions and such. It was more of a fact-finding conversation and getting to know one another.”
Those present at the gathering also included Fr Xavier D’Souza – Sacred Heart Church, Pastor Isaac Inayat – National Evangelical Church, Mona Al Alawi – Bahrain Women’s Association, Esra Al Sabah – Manama Shapers, Kai Miethig – Bahrain Clean Up and David Axtell – Bahrain Anglican Church Council.
“I felt that the round-table went really well – with a lot of interest and participation across the parties represented, with a willingness to stay on and continue the conversation beyond the pre-arranged time,” said Mr Kelling.
“It was great that the need to collaborate to have the greatest impact was demonstrated by those present. There were several proposals for joint efforts on working on education, recycling, food waste and redistribution, as well as sharing ways to ‘green’ our religious spaces and practices, across the diverse faith communities in Bahrain.
“I was really encouraged by the event, and believe it is just the first of what I hope becomes a regular place of exchange between faith communities and civil society organisations to work together to respond to climate change and care for the environment.”
The round-table is set to be staged again in January, possibly with a wider base of attendees.
“The next steps are for us to continue talking, both to each other and our own groups, in order to help each other and aim to unify an approach and priorities that work for all,” added Mr Axtell.
Stanley Louis Szecowka
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