The New Republic headline declared, “Pope Francis Won’t Save the Planet.” Maybe not, but we can! It is time to stop unchecked climate change. The life you save could be your own.
Pope Francis may be the best known and the most beloved planetary leader ever. His flock is over one billion strong, and they represent about half of all Christians. Catholics and Protestants alike are inspired by his dedication to the poor, and belief in the full humanity of prisoners and immigrants. His outspoken encyclical on climate care, his willingness to meet with sex-abuse victims, and to clean up the Vatican bank are all historic expressions of accountability as well as compassion.
The trip to the United States by the Pope is timed perfectly for a lead-up to the United Nations Sustainable Development meeting, which is considering a plan to eliminate hunger and poverty in 15 years. We can do it if we choose. But will we?
Climate is central to any such efforts. Sea levels are rising, violent storms are increasing, and poor people are literally at the brink of being swept away. Even middle class survivors of hurricanes Sandy and Katrina will tell you that everything you own can be swept away in a day, and you awaken to face poverty and homelessness.
The Pope is awake. A Reuters article in July quoted Pope Francis who said, “Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its effective control is a moral imperative for humanity.”
Churches and institutions of higher education are beginning to take this moral imperative seriously. There are people of good will who are making changes, and there are decent people whose highest priority is to protect investment portfolios–not the planet.
Fossil fuel investments do not look good on their own merits. The signs are everywhere if you have eyes to see and ears to hear. Carmakers are shifting to plug-in cars as fast as they can create them. Oil companies have been drilling fast and furious, and decimating communities with impunity with a boom-and-bust mentality in places like the Dakotas. Today, with plummeting prices, it’s time to get out of oil and coal.
Right now, there is a growing movement of universities and religious institutions todivest from fossil fuel. In denominational settings, the arguments against fossil fuel divestment echo the arguments against divesting from South Africa at the height of Apartheid: “You will hurt the people who are most vulnerable.” “We need to stay invested so we can be at the table to change policies.” “You don’t know enough about investing to tell us how to invest.”
Today, personal choices about energy use and energy investments have a political impact. Our choices impact our neighbors; they impact the world.
A church colleague of mine announced on Facebook recently, “I am off the grid!” Did it cost money? Sure! It was an investment–a good one. Between solar panels and a plug-in car, one person divested herself in major ways from fossil fuels. You can be sure she will support legislation in her denomination to divest.
As the Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, I have asked our Creation Care Team to urge our members and congregations to commit to the Paris Pledge, and reduce their carbon emissions 50 percent by the year 2030. If the world makes this pledge, we can keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius and avoid tragic environmental consequences.
May we stand together with faith communities around the globe to practice what we preach. We also need to CHANGE what we preach.
In his papal encyclical, “On Care For Our Common Home,” Pope Francis upends the belief that people can exploit, decimate, and despoil our environment based on Genesis 1:28, where God gave humankind dominion over the earth and all creatures.Dominion thinking gave birth to movements that idolize unrestricted use of private property and melds American nationalism with beliefs that Christians will rule the world.
Pope Francis’ challenge to dominion thinking is grounded in scripture, as well. In the introduction of the encyclical, he repeatedly quotes his predecessor pontiffs to remind readers that many Popes and saints expressed love for God’s earth. In the section on dominion, Pope Francis quotes no one but scripture and breaks new ground. This is a new interpretation, a life-saving interpretation. The excerpt from paragraph 67 of thepapal encyclical, “On Care for Our Common Home,” says:
“We are not God. … We must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures. …Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations. …God rejects every claim to absolute ownership: ‘The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with me.’ (Leviticus 25:23)”
When I read this dramatic shift in understanding our place in creation, I realize there is so much to do and so little time to do it. Blessed Tomorrow is a coalition of faith leaders who are working with the congregations and with national leaders to mobilize all people of faith to address climate change.
Those of us in the United States have a bigger responsibility. We represent 5 percent of the world’s population, and we use 25 percent of the world’s energy. How do we reduce our consumption by 50 percent? Here are 50 ideas, and here is a Blessed Tomorrow Action Workbook for congregations.
What you do every day makes a difference. How you drive, the settings on your water heater, how you wash and dry your clothes, all make a difference. Most importantly, how you think makes a difference. If you think you do not matter, you are part of the problem. If you shift your thinking to “everything counts,” you will know that every act of conservation–a light turned out, less aggressive driving, added insulation–reduces energy consumption.
The time is now. It is the only moment we have. Pope Francis is using his moment to help the world come to its senses. How about you?
We will be linking our prayer time each week to an action:
· 6th Smartie tubes to save for Toilet twinning (Smarites are a type of sweet in the UK. They come in a cardboard tube, which is great for collecting coins in. We aim to raise enough over the month, to twin at least one toilet in the church building – http://www.toilettwinning.org/
· 13th – Ideas for using less water or less fuel/energy
· 20th – Go for a walk in a green space and appreciate your environment. Take a carrier bag along with you and pick up litter
27th – Harvest collection for the People’s Kitchen and return of the Smartie tubes
Rev. Elder Cecilia Eggleston
In French we say “Mais Oui” (Yes!) and in English “May WE”
Throughout our history, Metropolitan Community Church has made a stand and courageously led on issues of our times, in particular those around social justice. It is that time again.
Climate change has already had a devastating impact on communities around the world, with dire effects on nature and creation, our siblings and neighbor. It is time to be the ‘good stewards’ that God has called us to be and to care for that which God has entrusted to our care. It is time.
Today, we say MAY WE be the ones to stand together with MCC leadership and other faith communities around the world in taking the Paris Pledge in the movement toward necessary and vital creation care. The time to act is now.
The Paris Pledge is a commitment, made individually and by our congregations, to reduce carbon emissions 50% by the year 2030. This will keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius and avoid tragic environmental consequences. MAY WE stand together with faith communities around the globe to practice what we preach.
When the U.N. Climate Change Conference convenes in Paris this December, the pledges will show that we commit to doing our part and, in turn, demand the same (or better) commitment from global leaders. MAY WE take the Pledge today, by visiting this link: http://www.parispledge.org/ where you will also find resources and actions you can take to save money while reducing carbon emissions.
Then, email: email@example.com and let us know you have taken the Pledge, so your congregation will be listed as a pledge-signer on the MCC website!
MAY WE join together (once again), to respond to God’s call in this restorative ministry — so we and future generations may not only survive but thrive. The “Garden” is where we started and it is to God’s garden that we are called to return. The time is now. MAY WE respond with a commitment to act and a promise to CARE.
MCC Creation Team Co-leads
Reverends Aaron Miller and Rich Hendricks
Pope Francis, when you arrived for the first time in the United States, it was my privilege to be among the throngs of people welcoming you to our home. It was so gratifying to know you would be visiting a prison, and addressing the U.S. Congress, and the United Nations on Climate Care. Your challenges to people of faith to address the needs of the poor inspire me to say YES to you as a Pope of the people.
Your encyclical, LAUDATO SI’: On Care for Our Common Home, will help the world of faith and civil society face our climate crisis caused by human beings. Your passionate insistence on facing the facts, with faith and courage, is truly a miracle of our time. Your work to galvanize people of all faiths to shift away from a fossil fuel dependent world could literally save us.
Read the full article on Huffington Post.
So many people don’t think about climate change, and this is a huge problem if we want our politicians to act. That’s why we’re backing Earth Hour this year.
Earth Hour takes climate, an incredibly complex issue, and makes it simple in one expressive moment involving millions of people all over the world. Amazing. It’s fun and a beautiful and symbolic event.
Just last week we were reminded how vital it is to stop runaway climate change. The small island nation of Vanuatu was ravaged by Cyclone Pam. They’re used to storms but not like this one. Decades of development was swept away in just a few hours. If we want to stop this extreme weather increasing, destroying the livelihoods of vulnerable communities – we need to take a stand.
So this year, as well as the fun of turning lights off, we’ve made space for reflection too. We’ve put together a set of prayers and resources for everyone to use and share. We hope they’ll act as a catalyst to other readings you want to share, or to you writing your own.
Our faith and values can guide us in times like this, and steel our resolve to act. It can also help us show leadership to those around us. Take this Earth Hour to talk about climate change with family and friends and see what ideas you come up with. As people of faith we need to make our voices heard, lifting up the moral, just, call for climate action. For the sake of our children, and for the sake of Vanuatu.
P.S. Be sure to share any photos you take with us on social media. Use the hashtag #YourPower and tag @ourvoices2015 to make sure we see them, and can share them on!
World leaders are gathering again to develop next steps in addressing the global climate change crisis. Earlier this year, Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson, Presiding Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, helped lead a diverse coalition of faith groups participating in the People’s Climate March. The march called on world leaders gathered for the UN Summit on Climate Change to take an aggressive stand against air pollution. These leaders will assemble again in Lima, Peru (1-12 December 2014) for the Framework Convention on Climate Change. As part of the 20th Convening of the Parties, they will identify the broad areas of international agreement around carbon emmissions caps, financial support for clean energy production, and workforce development for “green” economies.
Faith groups will be present to ensure they produce a framework that reflects our core values of justice, broad enviornmental stewardship, jobs for all, protection for the vulnerable, and relief from poverty. We must be bold.
Because of the work and advocacy of activists the world over, Global leaders ARE LISTENING. This week, China and the United States of America, two of the world’s largest air polluters, announced a new program to reduce carbon emissions over the next twenty years. We must keep up the pressure so that these nations fully implement the plan and that other nations join in the effort.
Here are some actions you can take, wherever you live in the world, to maintain the momentum leading up to the Lima conference:
Reflecting our sacred duty to exercise stewardship over all of God’s creation, MCC stands in solidarity with environmental justice advocates around the world.
For more information, contact the Public Policy Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support the People’s Climate March
Activists have organized the largest-ever gathering of people marching for climate justice, to take place on Sunday, September 21, 2014 in New York City. This march is being held in advance of the September 23rd UN Summit on Climate Change. The UN summit seeks to build international agreement ways to reduce global warming. If you are in the DC area, groups are providing transportation to the march:
On Friday, September 19th at the Metropolitan Community Church of New York, MCC Presiding Moderator Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson will give an address on why LGBTQI people of faith care about climate change, “A Queer Response to Climate Change.” She will be joined by activist and queer performance artist Peterson Toscano.
If you cannot participate in person in the march or hear Moderator Wilson’s address, here are actions you can take:
. The plan would cut carbon pollution produced by power plants by requiring operators to identify and utilize utilize the best and cheapest ways to reduce pollution, especially from fossil fuels. While some states have taken aggressive action to curb power plant emissions, the EPA proposal would create new national standards that elevate all states to the same level. Under the plan, the EPA estimates that by 2030, the country’s power operators would emit 30% less carbon pollution than it did in 2005. .
This action alert was prepared by the Public Policy Team of
Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute.
For more information, contact the Public Policy Team at email@example.com.
The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson is the Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), which has ministries in over 40 countries. Dr. Wilson was part of the first LGBT faith delegation to meet with U.S. White House staff in 1979, and she served as a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
As the U.S. government rolled out its historic report on global climate change, it was announced that the Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, would be part of a team of twenty-one top ecumenical and interfaith leaders to spearhead an effort to mobilize religious communities to address environmental concerns and to provide “how to” guidance and an extensive array of free resources to their networks.
The team launched Blessed Tomorrow (http://www.blessedtomorrow.
“I believe it is time that we look at our actions. God’s love will never change, but we have an eternal mandate to be in relationship to our natural environment and this paradise we call Earth,” said the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson. “We hold the future of our children in our hands and can come together to bring in an era of cooperation never seen in the history of humankind to embody a blessed tomorrow.”
“Metropolitan Community Churches was founded in 1968 and made history as the first church to perform same-gender marriages,” said Dr. Wilson. “MCC is known as ‘The Human Rights Church’ internationally and works worldwide to challenge discrimination based on race, gender, class, and sexual orientation. Many MCC congregations around the globe are supporting a sustainable climate through their practices. The Blessed Tomorrow partnership will provide a rich interaction across lines of faith and tradition that will help everyone grow.”
Blessed Tomorrow emerged out of EcoAmerica MomentUs efforts to connect with business, health, faith, and other constituencies with mutually beneficial strategies to reduce the effects of climate change. Faith communities will expand the use of climate change solutions that align with their faith tradition and values. Blessed Tomorrow provides simple, proven resources faith leaders can use right away to empower their members and communities.
Central to this initiative is helping congregations create a Path to Positive plan, which will provide free resources to guide them to be better stewards of God’s creation, for the sake of the most vulnerable populations and future generations. Each congregation or ministry is encouraged and empowered to create their own Path to Positive: http://blessedtomorrow.org/
Founded in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) has been at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change, aging, and global human rights. MCC was the first to perform same-gender marriages and has been on the forefront of the struggle towards marriage equality in the U.S. and other countries worldwide.
gases have increased.” Further, the IPCC concludes that the warming trend is unequivocal, reporting that “each of the last three decades have been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850.” Now more than ever, citizens and policymakers need to act to make possible a sustainable future for generations to come.
In the face of the reality of rapid ecological crises and degradation, we believe that as people of faith we are called to tend to God’s good creation, seek justice for the vulnerable and oppressed among us, and be good stewards of the bounty and beauty of the Earth.
This year, the focus for Earth Day is on Green Cities, an effort to encourage lawmakers, businesses, and citizens to make sustainable investments in clean energy and advocate for public policies that promote energy efficiency and limit greenhouse gas emissions. The IPCC has concluded that efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development and equity can be improved by limiting the effects of climate change. The Moderator’s Public Policy Team agrees and calls on our elected officials and concerned people of faith to advocate for policies and practices that help us create a healthier environment for a sustainable future for all.
On Earth Day, April 22, we can all do our part to act as good stewards and advocates for the environment, ensuring that later generations will be able to benefit from all the beauty and bounties of the Earth. You can reaffirm your commitment to protecting the environment by volunteering, letting your representatives know that you support sound environmental policies, or making a small lifestyle change to reduce any negative impact on the environment. If everyone chooses to do something small, together, we can create a better world for future generations.
To help you further reflect on God’s earth as gift, we are please to share the following resources:
This statement was prepared by the Public Policy Team of
Metropolitan Community Churches/The Global Justice Institute, Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.
For more information, contact the Public Policy Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.