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by Rev. Gordon S. Bates
HARTFORD (06/05/2007) -- At the 2005 General Synod in Atlanta, two resolutions were passed relating to environmental concerns. One was entitled “A Call for Environmental Education and Action”; the other, on the topic of energy usage, was “A Resolution on Supporting Congregations and Providing Guidance for Stewardship of God’s Creation during the Coming Period of Declining Fossil Fuels.”
Long titles, pointing to major environmental crises facing the world.
A combined Task Force on Environment and Energy has been meeting to find ways to implement the “Therefore’s” of the two Resolutions. We have discovered the following realities:
There are people who simply are not convinced that the environmental crisis is real, or if real, that it is at a critical stage. Some skeptics think nature will resolve its own problems, or that we should trust that God will take care of things, or that science will find a solution.
International scientific studies have documented beyond any reasonable doubt that global warming, energy depletion and environmental degradation of the planet is real. The physical world beneath our feet is indisputably changing, as is the thin layer of breathable air. We are approaching significant, irreversible “tipping points.” These realities must be dealt with politically, socially and personally.
As Christians, we must also rethink these problems theologically. If we believe that God is still speaking, then we must seek to understand God through the voice of nature as well as the Bible and the wisdom of the Gospel.
The Task Force on Environment and Energy will recommend to the General Synod an intentional integration of environmental and energy information throughout the UCC, as well as ways to bring a concern for the natural world into our worship services; guidelines for legislative advocacy; and resources for individuals and congregations.
On the Conference level, we welcome the participation of those interested in these issues and in pursuing these same objectives. If you work in the areas of environment or have information and expertise to share, please join us.
As stewards of the natural blessings of God, I believe we are called to repent of our past exploitation of the earth and of its resources, and to be evangelists for the environment and eco-justice. The UCC has already played a key leadership role in this struggle. In the years to come, even more will be required of us. With God’s guidance we can transform our trust in God’s everlasting love into actions that seek to rectify past and present injustices to the environment, for the benefit of all God’s creation. Let’s do it.
The Rev. Gordon S. Bates is Interim Associate Pastor at First Church of Christ, Congregational in Glastonbury, and a member of the UCC Task Force on Environment and Energy.