United Methodists have many options for working to reduce harmful effects on the environment and encourage beneficial creation care.
According to a recent article by Jim Patterson of United Methodist News Service: “Efforts to address climate change are being made across the denomination. Church and Society, United Methodist Women, Wespath, Higher Education and Ministry and Discipleship Ministries are among the United Methodist entities doing significant work on the issue, Phillips said. UMCOR also has solar power initiatives outside the U.S. that are making progress.”
Efforts by these agencies are based on actions by the General Conference, the denomination’s top legislative body and the only unit empowered to act for the entire church. General Conference has adopted many policies and aspirations regarding creation care. One of the most recent, “Climate Change and the Church,” addresses the issues being brought forth through the Global Climate Strike Sept. 20-27.
The General Board of Church and Society is charged with carrying out the social stances adopted by General Conference. The Social Principles, beginning with Paragraph 160 in the Book of Discipline, describe many of these policies along with guidelines in the Book of Resolutions. Basic principles include:
Preamble, Para. 160: “All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings. God has granted us stewardship of creation. We should meet these stewardship duties through acts of loving care and respect”.
On Water, Air, Soil, Minerals, and Plants: (Paragraph 160 A) “We support measures designed to maintain and restore natural ecosystems.”
On Energy Resources Utilization: (Paragraph 160 B) “…We support and encourage social policies that are directed toward rational and restrained transformation of parts of the nonhuman world into energy for human usage and that deemphasize or eliminate energy-producing technologies that endanger the health, the safety, and even the existence of the present and future human and nonhuman creation.”
On Global Climate Stewardship: (¶ 160 C) “[We] support efforts of all governments to require mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and call on individuals, congregations, businesses, industries, and communities to reduce their emissions.”
Patterson’s article also cites the EarthKeepers program, an independent non-profit initiative affiliated with the General Board of Global Ministries. Currently there are 157 EarthKeepers. Training sessions are scheduled for Sept. 26-29 in Austin, Texas, and Oct. 24-27 in Chicago.
United Methodist Women produced a climate justice study in 2016. The Council of Bishops produced a 2009 pastoral letter, “God’s Renewed Creation” that connects pandemic poverty and disease and environmental degradation with the proliferation of violence and weapons.
More information on current resources can be found on The United Methodist Church website by searching for “creation care” and “climate change.” One of the more comprehensive is a 2017 article by Joe Iovino, Ways We Can Combat Climate Change.