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Wednesday, 21 March 2007 00:00

Initiative puts a new face on an important issue

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Being environmentally conscious has become mainstream, but we still have a long way to go before mankind figures out how to live and prosper without negatively impacting the very earth that sustains us. A relatively new front raising awareness in this arena is coming from organized Christian religions, and an upcoming conference at Lake Junaluska is a great example of a progressive movement whose time has come.

 

Caring for Creation is the name given to a national initiative whose mission is “to engage the Christian community in efforts to move society toward a more sustainable path. The premise is that earth and its ecosystems are a gift from God that should be respected, not degraded and destroyed by man.”

That sounds so logical that it shouldn’t be something new and different. Unfortunately, for several reasons it is.

For one, there has also been a biblical mandate that God put the earth here for mankind to use for his benefit. In times past, that was fine. Our collective impact on the environment was barely noticeable. All that changed in the last 100 years as we entered the technological age. Populations have exploded, and our ability to live sustainably is now very much in question.

Even more recently, however, political realities have led many Christians away from environmentalism. Sometime after Richard Nixon’s administration helped create and sign into law the Clean Water and Clean Air acts in the 1970s, the Republican Party began demonizing the environmental movement. At the same time, many organized Christian churches became open advocates for Republican candidates. Taken together, this has prompted many churches to look disdainfully at environmental stewardship.

Caring for Creation is helping to change this paradigm. Among the seminars scheduled for the conference set for April 12-15 at Lake Junaluska are these: Canaries In The Coal Mine: Protecting children against environmental threats; Interfaith Power and Light: Learn more about this national nonprofit working to help people fulfill their stewardship responsibility for the earth; Green Building: How to be more earth friendly in congregations, renovations, and new construction of facilities; Communicating With Congregations About Global Warming.

The bottom line is that this movement is a way for Christians to re-establish a more fundamental relationship with their roots and their ancestors who relied on the earth for survival. And since about 83 percent of Americans consider themselves to be Christians, its success could have a profound effect on the way this country sets environmental policy.

Politics can kill a good cause. Caring for the earth, though, is too important to be hijacked by any single political party or to be ignored. Caring for Creation should help bridge the divide that now exists when it comes to environmentalism, and that bodes well for this country and its future.

The conference will be held on the ground of Lake Junaluska. It is sponsored by the SEJ Ministry Team, the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, and United Methodist Women of the Southeastern Jurisdiction. For more information or to register, please call Loy Lilley at 828.452.2881 or go to www.sejumc.org and click on “events.”

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