Justice: Acknowledge global warming’s societal impact falls most heavily on the poor and vulnerable, and the United States disproportionately contributes to greenhouse gas, it is incumbent upon us to rectify this injustice.
Stewardship: Heed the call to be faithful stewards and caretakers of God’s creation.
Sustainability: Enable biological and social systems that nurture and support life not be depleted or poisoned.
Sufficiency: In a world of finite resources, we must make changes in our lifestyles and, particularly, in our energy consumption.
– Adapted from the Eco-Justice Program, National Council of Churches USA
“Thus says the Lord:
Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.”
– Jeremiah 6:16
LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. – John Hill came from his United Methodist General Board Church and Society office across the street from the U.S. Capitol and the Supreme Court to say, words spoken as a church about social justice and public policy don’t just sit on a desk and gather dust – they are a model for the world.
The United Methodist Church is at the crossroads described in Jeremiah, Hill said.
At the UM assembly’s fourth “Caring for Creation” conference, Hill reminded participants that it is a time of anxiety, “mismanagement of God’s abundance is catching up with us. … For too long the world has been premised upon unsustainable behavior.”
Hill said, our world is “built upon carbon, credit and consumerism. The only thing we were asked to do to perform our patriotic duty was to shop. It is time for stewardship and justice.
“We are in the midst of a radical rethinking of the role of credit and economics in our system. Greed, unchecked individualism…wreaking havoc on those without a voice, and upon God’s good earth.
Hill doubts we would get a raise if God called us in for a job evaluation on how we were caring for His creation:
- 1 billion people lack access to safe, clean water.
- By 2025, 64 percent will live in water-stressed situations.
- We are destroying 34 million acres of forestland a year.
- Mountaintops are being removed for coal mining in U.S. areas where the marginalized live.
- Carbon dioxide levels increased 25 percent in the 20th century.
“We’re making believers and not disciples; we’re transforming the church, not the world,” Hill said. “We need to be prophet-driven.”
Caring for creation’s worship was opened with a meditation by the Rev. Carl Arrington, director of African-American Ministries at Lake Junaluska.
Citing Peace in Every Step, Arrington said, “Other things outside of our bodies are essential to our lives. Thanks to plants, we and other animals can live. We are not limited to what’s within the boundaries of our skin. We dare not live as though nothing outside ourselves matters.
“We are the keepers of all God has created,” in addition to our brothers and sisters, Arrington said.
South Carolinians attending the various sessions – which covered 15 topics, from water quality to community gardens – were Wanda Bellamy, Ron Osborne, and Manny and Nina Letts of Myrtle Beach; Judith Coull and William Deemer of Columbia; and Ronald Cannon of Hartsville.