On 19 September 2019 throughout the WORLD Young People and others went on “Global climate strike” for the care of the planet we call home. The world scientists have been for decades warning us that we are on a collision course of permanently damaging our environment if we don’t take action immediately. All action is needed. Political action. Community Action. Individual action. Church action. God has called us to care for Creation. God calls us to action.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) has been focused on the Stewardship of the Earth for generations.
General Assembly statements dating back to the 1950s focused on “good stewardship” of natural resources and continuing with statements and actions concerning clean water and sustainable farming. In 1990 the General assembly approved a comprehensive Restoring Creation Policy. In 2008 the General Assembly called on all to become bolder in our call to reduce our carbon footprint, to do all that we can to protect God’s creation.
In 2016 the General Assembly and all PCUSA agencies agreed to the “Collaborative Agenda on Environmental Stewardship”
Here are excerpts from Our Common Call to Care for God’s Creation (2016)
Every reflection on our care for the world we inhabit must begin with this fundamental principle. The earth is a gift from God, the Sovereign Creator, and we, God’s creatures, are called to celebrate and honor its manifold glory.
Stewardship and Sustainability
Not only are we called to give thanks for God’s glorious creation, we are given the task by God to oversee what God has created. We are, according to scripture, God’s overseers and caretakers of the whole creation, which includes ourselves.
We are, at the most basic level, called to be just, loving stewards of all creation, serving and preserving the earth. (Gen 2:15). Our commitment must be to the sustainability that God has willed for God’s creation, which means ensuring that all people and all of creation experience sufficiency in the resources they need to thrive, not only now, but for generations to come.
God’s Concern for the Poor
We cannot faithfully address environmental concerns without acknowledging the disproportionate impact of environmental degradation on those least able to defend themselves from the pollution of our air and water, the impact of many extractive industries and the unjust distribution of wealth derived from the exploitation of our global resources.
Whatever plans we devise for addressing our environmental concerns, we must begin by asking how our actions will affect the most vulnerable of God’s children and maintain our commitment to stand with them in the decisions we make.
Justice and Judgment
The Scriptures are clear. There are consequences when we forget our role as God’s agents charged with care for the earth and we exploit the riches God has given us.
In contrast to the terms of judgment in the prophetic warnings, God promises both a “new heaven” and a “new earth,” indeed a full restoration for all who have sought to be faithful in the stewardship of what God has created. That includes both our care for all sorts of human communities and individuals but also the created order that God declared good at the beginning.
As the people of God, we are therefore called to work, in response to God’s calling, to see that all of God’s creation is protected, nurtured and enabled to reach the potential for which God has created it. The concrete implications of that for those of us who are a part of God’s family in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) include a call to prayer, education, advocacy and other forms of direct action to glorify God in our care of creation.