August 16, 2023
“We first mourn the many people and families caught suddenly in the racing flames of this historic fire, fanned and fed by furious winds driving down from the hills to the sea,” wrote WCC acting general secretary (during the vacation) Marianne Ejdersten. “We grieve the incalculable loss of lives of people simply going about their daily activities and of their families, along with the thousands who still do not know the fate of those they love and cherish.”
The WCC is also mindful of the many brave rescue workers, first responders, volunteers, and churches, added Ejdersten. “And of course we see the devastation inflicted by the ferocious flames, incinerating houses and cars and the whole town of Lahaina,” she wrote. “It will take years and years to rebuild what can, in fact, never be fully replaced.”
In a pastoral letter, Ejdersten acknowledged that Maui is no ordinary place. “An island paradise, it is also the seat of the ancient Indigenous culture and the soul of Hawaiian Indigenous religions,” she wrote. “For many of us, it symbolizes the ageless Indigenous quest for a creation spirituality that situates us with God and in God’s great handiwork.”
We do not have ready answers or easy explanations for this large-scale tragic loss, Ejdersten wrote.
“A natural disaster such as this poses huge questions to the unfathomable mystery in which we live and move,” she wrote. “We know that we Christians around the world, as stewards of God’s good earth, must honestly take responsibility for addressing and mitigating climate change and its widespread effects.”