Churches urged to observe Earth Day


Resources available to help with planning

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Earth Day reaches a major milestone this year — its 50th anniversary — as the world goes through a tumultuous period of change due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) hopes churches will find ways to mark the occasion, either this month or later in the year, with the help of a downloadable educational resource from Creation Justice Ministries, focusing on “The Fierce Urgency of Now.”

The materials include liturgical resources, faith-rooted interpretation of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and stories about congregations involved in climate action.

“The resource talks a lot about kairos,” said Jessica Maudlin, PHP’s Associate for Sustainable Living and Earth Care Concerns. “The concept of ‘kairos’ reflects the overarching understanding of hope found in the Bible. Over and over again, its pages present us with the seemingly impossible becoming possible amid the most difficult of circumstances.”

The coronavirus has wreaked havoc around the globe, killing more than 134,000 people worldwide and forcing many people to shelter at home to reduce their risk of becoming infected.

The world’s most vulnerable populations are facing the worst effects of this pandemic, in a similar way that climate change and environmental destruction always hits oppressed communities first and hardest, said the Rev. Rebecca Barnes, PHP coordinator.

The Rev. Rebecca Barnes

“By now we know that human suffering is connected to how well or poorly we care for all of God’s Creation,” Barnes said. “The church’s call is to care for all Creation and all people in it.”

She added: “Listening and responding quickly to early warning signs from experts related to the coronavirus can save more lives. Similarly, if we listen to the scientific evidence of how serious the implications of climate change are and make appropriate changes now, we will save more lives. There is a fierce urgency to this virus response and there is a fierce urgency to climate change.”

Maudlin also commented on potential lessons to be learned.

“We are seeing now how taking careful, intentional actions can make an impact, how the Earth can heal when changes are made and the power that we have when we share a common focus,” she said.

In Genesis 1:28, God’s “first commandment to humans was to ‘replenish the Earth … and have dominion’ over other creatures,” Maudlin said. “Although the passage giving humans ‘dominion’ over nature and animals has often been cited as a right to control, dominate, or even despoil the environment, the mandate clearly refers to human stewardship responsibilities over the Earth, to care for and protect God’s handiwork, to be a good steward of the natural world.”

Getting involved

Who: You and your church

What: Earth Day

When: Earth Day is April 22. Churches may observe Earth Day Sunday on April 19 or 26, or any date of their choosing.

Alternate days include Aug. 30, the Sunday nearest Sept. 1, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, or a Sunday between Sept. 1 and Oct. 1, the period known as the Season of Creation.

How: Earth Care teams and others interested in planning Earth Day observances or celebrations can find additional information on these sites:

The work of the Presbyterian Hunger Program is possible thanks to your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing. PHP is one of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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