What's at stake in the 2016 elections? Protection for God's Creation.

What's at stake in the 2016 elections? Protection for God's Creation.

October 26, 2016
Written by Minister Jason Carson Wilson

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If you remember nothing else from Sunday School, one thing may stick with you. In the beginning, the Creator created the heavens and the Earth. Don’t take my word for it. Genesis says so. The Creator not only made the day, but our world.

Caring for it shows respect to our Creator. We remember our parents telling us that respecting our environment translated into respect for them. We’ve probably told our own children just as much.

How does your vote help the environment?

Beyond respect, caring for the environment is the key to our survival. That’s why electing people who respect the environment is crucial. Let your faith inform your vote. Queer theologian (and Chicago Theological Seminary academic dean) Ken Stone reflected on the importance of caring and fighting for the environment in May 2013 post:

“Keeping the word of Jesus and the Spirit may mean recycling, lowering our carbon emissions to reduce the impact of climate change, insuring habitat for other living creatures, protecting endangered species, lobbying on behalf of environmental regulations, and any number of other forms of creation-care that the disciples in Jesus' time could not have imagined.”

How does the UCC speak out for the environment?

The United Church of Christ is committed to “keeping the word of Jesus and the Spirit” by being good stewards and watchdogs of our Earth. That commitment compelled us to speak out against the Dakota Access pipeline, saying:

"The pursuit of the Dakota Access pipeline adds to the legacy of our government’s broken promises to Native Americans. The latest broken promise reeks of White privilege, religious freedom violations and willful ignorance of very real environmental ramifications. We stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Tribe."

Flint & “other Flints”

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The youth group of United Church of Chapel Hill held a prayer vigil that culminated at a Duke Energy power station near their church in NC.

The Rev. Dr. Brooks Berndt, UCC Minister for Environmental Justice, leads our response to environmental issues, guided by our synod witnesses. Rev. Berndt’s ministry has taken him across the nation to bear witness and speak for victims of environmental injustice, including Flint residents and members of Standing Rock tribe.

He’s also spoken prophetically about “other Flints, as the Rev. Karen Richardson Dunn, duly notes.

“In February, I met with Brooks Berndt, the UCC’s Minister for Environmental Justice, to discuss a proposal for an eco-justice ministries network within the UCC’s Southern Conference. During our conversation, the tragedy of the Flint, Michigan, water crisis arose, and Berndt made the comment that numerous “other Flints” are occurring across our country at this moment with their own terrible consequences.”

Rev. Dunn went on to identify another water crisis in her own state. She looked to the small, rural community in Rutherford County, North Carolina, whose world has been turned upside down by a “Do Not Drink” order from the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) - a result of water contamination by toxins from Duke Energy’s nearby coal ash ponds. Together she and Rev. Berndt collaborated to create a petition demanding the cleanup of the Cliffside coal ash site, which had been designated “low priority” (or “no cleanup”) by the DEQ. Over the next two weeks the petition was circulated and signed by North Carolina UCC clergy and people of faith.

Ultimately the DEQ reversed its stance and Cliffside, along with other coal ash sites along the Broad and French Broad rivers, were designated for cleanup.

A small act of faith, combined with an intentional act of democracy, contributed to great changes for the families of Rutherford County.

Letting our faith guide our vote is imperative, if we want to save the Creator’s handiwork, which we call home. When you vote, vote with the needs of Standing Rock in your mind. Vote with Flint and the other communities like it in your heart. Vote for leaders who will care for God’s great Creation as you would.

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