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“All who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matt. 23:12

Environmental Ministries
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Rebecca Barnes
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PC(USA) environmental policy

This 1990 policy is a foundational policy for the work of the Environmental Ministries program of the PC(USA). It has great, inspiration language useful for congregational liturgy, personal prayer, and reflection. Here are some excerpts:

Creation cries out in this time of ecological crisis

  • Abuse of nature and injustice to people place the future in grave jeopardy.
  • Population triples in this century.
  • Biological systems suffer diminished capacity to renew themselves.
  • Finite minerals are mined and pumped as if inexhaustible.
  • Peasants are forced onto marginal lands and soil erodes.
  • The rich-poor gap grows wider.
  • Wastes and poisons exceed nature's capacity to absorb them.
  • Greenhouse gases pose threat of global warming.

Therefore, God calls the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to

  • respond to the cry of creation, human and non-human;
  • engage in the effort to make the 1990s the "turnaround decade," not only for reasons of prudence or survival, but because the endangered planet is God's creation; and
  • draw upon all the resources of biblical faith and the Reformed tradition for empowerment and guidance in this adventure.

The church has powerful reason for engagement in restoring God's creation:

  • God's work in creation is too wonderful, too ancient, too beautiful, too good to be desecrated.
  • Restoring creation is God's own work in our time, in which God comes both to judge and to restore.
  • The Creator-Redeemer calls faithful people to become engaged with God in keeping and healing the creation, human and non-human.
  • Human life and well-being depend upon the flourishing of other life and the integrity of the life-supporting processes that God has ordained.
  • The love of neighbor, particularly "the least" of Christ's brothers and sisters, requires action to stop the poisoning, the erosion, the wastefulness that are causing suffering and death.
  • The future of our children and their children and all who come after is at stake.
  • In this critical time of transition to a new era, God's new doing may be discerned as a call to earth-keeping, to justice and to community.

Therefore, the 202nd General Assembly affirmed that:

  • Response to God's call requires a new faithfulness, for which guidance may be found in norms that illuminate the contemporary meaning of God's steadfast love for the world.
  • Earth-keeping today means insisting on sustainability-the ongoing capacity of natural and social systems to thrive together — which requires human beings to practice wise, humble, responsible stewardship, after the model of servanthood that we have in Jesus.
  • Justice today requires participation, the inclusion of all members of the human family in obtaining and enjoying the Creator's gifts for sustenance.
  • Justice also means sufficient, a standard upholding the claim of all to have enough — to be met through equitable sharing and organized efforts to achieve that end.
  • Community in our time requires the nurture of solidarity, leading to steadfastness in standing with companions, victims and allies and to the realization of the church's potential as a community of support for adventurous faithfulness.

On the basis of these findings and affirmations the 202nd General Assembly (1990)

  • Recognizes and accepts restoring creation as a central concern of the church, to be incorporated into its life and mission at every level.
  • Understands this to be a new focus for initiative in mission program and a concern with major implications for infusion into theological work, evangelism, education, justice and peacemaking, worship and liturgy, public witness, global mission and congregational service, and action at the local community level.
  • Recognizes that restoring creation is not a short-term concern to be handled in a few years, but a continuing task to which the nation and the world must give attention and commitment, and which has profound implications for the life, work and witness of Christian people and church agencies.
  • Approaches the task with covenant seriousness — "If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God ... then you shall live ..." (Deut. 30:16) — and with practical awareness that cherishing God's creation enhances the ability of the church to achieve its other goals.
  • The 202nd General Assembly (1990) believed God calls the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to engage in the tasks of restoring creation in the "turnaround Decade" now beginning and for as long as God continues to call people of faith to undertake these tasks.

Social Witness Compilation of the Advisory Committee for Social Witness Policy

The Presbyterian Church has passed many other resolutions about caring for creation. Among them are “Hazardous Waste, Race, and the Environment” and “Hope for a Global Future: Toward a Just and Sustainable Human Development.” To find more information on any caring for creation policies passed by the PC(USA), search the Social Witness Policy Compilation.


Mission Policy Guide for PCUSA

 PC(USA) environmental policies can be found through the PCUSA mission policy guide. This Guide can be searched by key word.


Anthology of all PC(USA) environmental policies through 2003

View this list, and the content, of PC(USA) environmental policies through the year 2003. This anthology was developed ecumenically, so  you may also look for other denominations’ policies or see what categories of concerns for which we have had policies.”

Responding to the General Assembly 2006 recommendation on being Carbon Neutral, check out the "Guide to Going Carbon Neutral" and the Presbyterian Women "Peace Links" on going carbon neutral.


Link to the 2008 PCUSA Energy policy: "The Power to Change"

Comments

  • Dear Pamela, Thank you for sharing a statement from another communion and for this reminder to be sensitive to our diversity. The above policy comes directly from the General Assembly resolution from 1990. We have simply copied some of its rich and meaningful text above. keeping the formatting as is. There is much more background to this statement, for those interested in reading the whole thing. Feel free to contact me at the above email if you'd like to read the full report (111 pages). by Rebecca Barnes-Davies on 01/11/2012 at 1:00 p.m.

  • I really like how the "Southern Baptist Environment & Climate Initiative" addresses the divisions of opinions about climate change and then proceeds to explain why they are going with best environmental practice. It doesn't ignore how many Baptists (and Presbyterians) feel- that climate change is not a human-caused phenomena. It addresses the feelings of its more conservative members, however unscientific & unsubstantiated those feelings may be. It's also more readable and not a series of bullets. by Pamela Mounce Glaze on 09/04/2011 at 5:02 p.m.

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