‘The Earth seems no longer able to heal itself’
September 12, 2019
From Sept. 1 to Oct. 4, Christians around the world celebrate the Season of Creation. Some pray, some do hands-on projects, some advocate. It’s powerfully good work that’s urgently needed.
An old farmhouse, converted into a conference center, sits atop Dem Heiligen Berg, “the holy mountain,” overlooking the city of Wuppertal, Germany. It is from this spot that many residents say Earth seems to touch heaven.
Earlier this year an ecumenical conference of 52 participants from 22 countries and many confessional and faith traditions took place in Wuppertal. The four-day gathering, “Together Towards Eco-Theologies, Ethics of Sustainability and Eco-Friendly Churches,” recognized that although God has not abandoned our planet, “the Earth seems no longer able to heal itself,” according to a statement inspired by the conference. The symptoms of the crisis are evident in the building blocks of life — water, earth, air and fire — and in climate-induced forced migration.
The statement inspired by the conference, The Wuppertal Call: Kairos for Creation — Confessing Hope for the Earth is confession-like in addressing the crisis and calling for a faithful response.
“The Wuppertal Call is an ecumenical pilgrimage toward justice, peace and integrity of Creation, one urgent step at a time,” said the Rev. Dr. Neddy Astudillo, Presbyterian pastor and organizer of GreenFaith Florida, a global interfaith organization that calls people of faith and religious institutions to take action to resolve the environmental crisis.
She said the first step is confessing our complicity in Earth’s degradation and committing to help heal Creation (2 Chron. 7:14).
Astudillo serves on the Advisory Committee of the Presbyterian Hunger Program, which produces resources, leadership and campaigns on caring for Creation, including a new Climate Care Challenge that Presbyterians are encouraged to take on as a personal commitment.
The hope is that the Wuppertal Call will lead to a global ecumenical movement to plan for a decade of ecological learning, confessing and comprehensive action to reorient the priorities of churches to 10 commitments outlined in the Call, Astudillo said.
Participants in the Wuppertal Call are also recommending to the World Council of Churches’ Executive Committee that it declare a “Decade for the Healing of Creation” with these four goals:
- To mobilize member churches to reorient their priorities to the commitments indicated in the Wuppertal Call.
- To engage with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through various alliances, networks and partnerships and to go beyond the SDG agenda to redefine notions of growth, wealth and well-being.
- To advocate to global decision makers that global greenhouse emissions should be drastically reduced as soon as possible in order to reach net-zero carbon emissions and to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
- To promote U.N. processes to create a legal framework for a binding “Universal Charter of the Rights of Mother Earth” (Cochabamba 2010), to explore possibilities of a U.N. Council for the Rights of Nature and the recognition of ecocide as a criminal offense in the International Court of Justice.
The conference in Wuppertal was organized by the Protestant Association of Churches and Mission, the Evangelical Church in Germany, the United Evangelical Mission and Bread for the World and the World Council of Churches (WCC).
The World Council of Churches gathers every eight years, with the WCC’s 11th Assembly to be held for the first time in Karlsruhe, Germany, in 2021.
“The task ahead is both urgent and immense,” Astudillo said. “It will require a courageous multifaith commitment to work together with God’s help for decades to come.” She said the next decade is critical, as documented in the 2018 report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which stated we have less than 12 years to reduce our carbon emissions to reverse the dangerous course of climate change.
“As people of faith and believers of God’s grace, we have at our advantage the practice of confession and recommitting ourselves to becoming who God calls us to be as children of God,” Astudillo said. “By [our] accepting the Wuppertal Call and any other actions to care for God’s Creation, God will be able to use us in the holy work of healing Earth.”
Tammy Warren, Communications Associate, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: The Wuppertal Call: Kairos for Creation
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray:
We give thanks to you, Lord, for your everlasting love and for the blessings that you reveal to us in this world. Help us to preserve the blessing of your holy Creation. We thank you, God. Amen.