Kiribati Church in deep water

There is a church in Kiribati which is sitting out in the middle of the ocean.

President of Kiribati Anote Tong says there used to be a village around it.

“And why it remains there is because I’ve asked the village to build a seawall so it doesn’t go, so it can bear testimony to what is happening.”

Several years ago, as a result of rising sea levels caused by climate change, the water rushed in, ripped apart a village, and drove its residents to higher ground.

Tong talked about this in a conversation with Betsy Morais of the New Yorker.

Kiribati is a predominantly Christian nation, but its people also pay homage to spirits for the heavens and the land and the sea.

“This is why we must maintain the existence of the nation, because our spirits will have nowhere else to go,” he told Morais.

She asked Tong how his countrymen viewed the spirits now that the tides threaten them.

“The spirits haven’t created the problem,” he said. “We ask the spirits to change the minds of those people who are doing this.”

Kiribati is a collection of 33 islands necklaced across the central Pacific.
Thirty-two of the islands are low-lying atolls.

The 33rd, called Banaba, is a raised coral island that long ago was strip-mined for its seabird-guano-derived phosphates.

60-year-old Anote Tong, holds a science degree from Canterbury University in New Zealand and another in economics from the London School of Economics.

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News category: Asia Pacific.

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