Have dominion, said the Genesis storyteller, clearly laying the health of the planet at our feet. We hear it and think of plastic, fracking, coal, fossil fuels, Styrofoam.
The big picture is that the planet is dying and we’re the ones holding the plastic bag over its head. But there is something else that makes a huge impact. If we are serious about environmental justice, we need conversations about the animal industry.
As a doctor and as a person of faith, I believe the only prescription for methane pollution is action. I believe it must be rapidly reduced for the sake of our global neighbors impacted by climate change, for the sake of our children inheriting this world, and for the sake of our earth and its diminishing ecosystems.
In 2015, the UCC General Synod passed a resolution on Responsible Stewardship of the Outer Space Environment. Through a regular series of articles, the UCC maintains its commitment to addressing the serious threats posed by space debris.
It has been said that climate change is essentially a water issue, because it results in some places getting too much water, while other places get too little. On the one hand, you have hurricanes, floods, and rising sea levels, while on the other, you have droughts, famines, and wildfires. Some might argue that the climate movement would benefit from framing our climate crisis more in terms of water than in terms of warming temperatures. In our churches, we can also frame climate as a theological issue that takes us back to the flood waters surrounding Noah and the parched lands surrounding Moses.
While any social movement owes its existence and power to countless persons, there are those who play pivotal roles in a movement's inception and development. If one person were to be named "the mother of the environmental justice movement," a persuasive case could be made for Dollie Burwell. In 1978, Burwell teamed up with Debra and Ken Ferruccio to organize community meetings for local residents concerned about the possibility of PCB-contaminated soil being dumped in Warren County, North Carolina. Burwell played numerous influential roles over the course of the coming years as the environmental justice movement came into existence, and one of those roles was to involve faith communities.
With media coverage that swivels its focus at a dizzying speed, the attention span of adults has become a shrinking phenomenon when it comes to the pressing events of the day. Arguably, there is a positive side to some of this. Out of concern for those in the Caribbean and Florida, this past weekend I found myself repeatedly checking for live updates on the destructive path of Hurricane Irma. I was grateful for the minute-by-minute reports, but I also realize there is a significant downside to current media trends, and I fear the children affected by hurricanes may be among those who suffer the most.
Progressive Christian leaders such as Cameron Trimble and John Dorhauer have been leading a discussion about the historical trajectory of churches and what the future holds as the body of Christ evolves. In his book Beyond Resistance: The Institutional Church Meets the Postmodern World, Dorhauer summarizes the conceptual framework proposed by Trimble by describing the pre-Reformation Church as Church 1.0, the post-Reformation Church as Church 2.0, and "whatever is emerging as Church 3.0." A number of emerging churches have a notable emphasis on creation care and justice.
As I whisked my two-year old daughter to the restroom at our local nature center, my eyes landed upon a fantastic discovery: on a windowsill, there was a flier on actions I could take to help pollinators. As many of you know, these wonderful creatures of God, who make one out of every three bites of food possible, have suffered staggering declines in recent years. As a result of my restroom trip discovery, I can now share with each of you a web address, so that you can also learn of ways to make a difference as caretakers of God's creation: www.pollinator.org.
Thirty years ago Charles Lee was principal author of the landmark report "Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States." This frequently cited work pioneered a new field of study as it demonstrated the pervasive reality of environmental racism across the country by documenting the disproportionate presence of toxic waste near communities of color. To mark the 30th anniversary of the report, I interviewed Lee.
In 2016, a farm church called The Keep & Till was founded in Carroll County, Maryland. The stated vision of the church is "to see rural renewal through sustainable agriculture and environmental responsibility informed by radical Christian faith." The church’s pastor is the Rev. Sam Chamelin, and I interviewed him as part of an ongoing series focused on church leaders who are envisioning and bringing to life new ways of being the church while having a notable emphasis on creation care and justice.