by Heidi Regier Kreider, WDC Conference Minister
Recently in Kansas I have observed the rising and setting sun as a big red ball on a horizon obscured by haze from wildfire smoke drifting from the west coast; this is the worst fire season on record for the west coast (over five million acres burned so far). Meanwhile WDC folks in Houston, Texas have been on alert repeatedly as hurricane winds and heavy rain inundate coastal communities; the most recent, Hurricane Beta, was the 9th named storm to make landfall in the U.S. this year (tying a record set in 1916), with two months of hurricane season yet to go.
These are just two examples of the impact of climate change in our world, being caused in large part by greenhouse gases due to human activity. Whether it be flooding or increased heat and drought, more extreme weather is one sign of climate change. Other evidence is in melting icebergs, rising sea levels, worsening air quality, changing growing seasons and shifting animal habitats. The impact on human beings includes health problems, displacement from home communities, economic stress, and conflict over depleted resources.
Why should Mennonites in Western District Conference care about this? First, because we are people of faith and part of the human family. As stewards of God’s good creation, we are called to care for it, and to repent (change direction) where we have failed in that responsibility. Secondly, because we care about justice. Globally (and in our own nation) those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change are generally the ones least responsible for causing it. To care about climate change also means advocating for the wellbeing of refugees, immigrants, and indigenous communities, working for racial justice, supporting people in poverty, and caring for children. And speaking of children: A third reason to care about climate change is because we have hope for the future. We are called to participate in God’s work of redemption, seeking shalom not only for ourselves but for many generations to come.
One good way to get involved in creation care is to connect with Anabaptist/Mennonite organizations such as Mennonite Creation Care Network (see https://mennocreationcare.org/), and the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions, a collaborative initiative of Eastern Mennonite University, Goshen College and Mennonite Central Committee to lead Anabaptist efforts to respond to the challenges of climate change (see https://sustainableclimatesolutions.org/). Currently, CSCS is conducting a congregational survey, as they develop strategies for faithful climate change advocacy. Pastors and other church leaders are most ideally suited to responding to this survey. If your congregation has not yet participated, click here to Take the survey. Survey responses should be submitted by October 10.
Looking for other ideas? Consider these: Start a creation-care discussion and action group in your congregation using materials from the WDC Resource Library or other sources. Get involved in environmental and social justice movements in your local community or region. Advocate to your state and national legislators for creation-friendly policies and programs. Join with other concerned members of WDC to launch a WDC Creation Care Task Force (contact the WDC office for more information). Include prayers, sermons and songs in worship affirming God’s creation and our stewardship of it. Celebrate ways that your congregation and its members are practicing faithful stewardship of the earth – and seek new ways to support each other in this important work.
Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it – the world, and all who live in it.” As God’s people, may we care lovingly for this world that God so loves!