This is SO good to see, one level. On another level, I have been deeply concerned about the silence of the churches, most of all, our United Methodist Church – with just a few exceptions; far too few – in its communications to the world, regarding the Climate Crisis. I hope this can herald the beginning of MUCH MUCH more prioritized coverage. I am still a little concerned that it took a New York Times article to appear before a United Methodist news story appears about UM Church planters emphasizing the deep crisis we face. I would expect much more emphasis and focus on these matters from a church whose bishops penned “God’s Renewed Creation” (and there is now a Missionary position – Pat Watkins as “missionary for the Care of God’s Creation”, working at the Board of Global Ministries under the sponsorship of that Council of Bishops in an effort to bring to the fore the implications of that message for our life, theology, and ministry as United Methodists and as Christians). There are also many other efforts, such as http://www.umccreationcare.org/ and various conferences that have highlighted themselves with this as mission.
That there is such an effort underway is an occasion for great hope and encouragement. But we need to pull our church’s resources together around this kind of effort to more fully integrate our very identity as a church around such a crisis as we face with what we are doing to the ecosystem that is God’s Good Creation.
We might also make note that there will be a gathering of faith leaders, including many from UMC churches and organizations that identify as United Methodist, in Washington DC on September 24th (during the week when the Pope is visiting the U.S., to express inter-denominational support for his call to action on climate change and creation care). I attended a prior conference earlier this summer , put on by the Center for Process Studies and it’s founders at Claremont School of Theology, a UMC seminary, called “Seizing An Alternative: Toward An Ecological Civilization”. Disappointingly, there was scant, if any coverage via UMC media. This has to change if we are to play any sort of Christian church leadership role in joining with faith leaders worldwide on what is certainly a crisis that demands attention by a people who claim to be a loving people who love God and seek the Kingdom of God.
I must say that the level of concern I have has been a relatively recent turning point for me. I have to confess a long-standing form of denial , over the past 30 years or so, of what is happening to the ecosystems of our world. Certainly, in the last 8 or 9 years, since the very public “An Inconvenient Truth” and the sharp outspokenness of several leading Climate Scientists, I have read and “believed” what they were telling us, but still managed to avoid letting the reality in. Something in me really preferred to avoid thinking about the very real dangers in which we have been complicit as Chrsitians, especially in a country like the U.S. who have been “energetic” to say the least, in our use of limited resources, and in our unjust “implementations” of those “riches”. I put those words in quotes because we are increasingly being made aware of the destructive qualities and by-products of a fossil fuel-oriented econmomy. Instead of “riches”, we might more fittingly see these as “weapons of mass destruction”, and instead of “implementations” (a neutral term), as extractions and pollutants. So what I find I have to do now is to lend my voice to the rapidly growing movement and awareness to help lead us into a required new way of life. This new life requires of us a denunciation of a way of life that many will continue to proclaim as our “greatness”, “power”, and even “birthright”, but seen in the light of “God’s Good Creation”, a deeply ingrained sin of immense and destructive power that is unpredented in human history.