This week religious leaders around the world responded and reacted negatively to the White House’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement/Accord. Clerics were especially vocal about how this decision impacts not only the poor and vulnerable, but encourages further destruction of the world we have been called in Genesis to be good stewards over. At the historic meeting last week between Trump and the Pope we watched as a copy of “Laudato Si”, the Pope’s sermon on climate change, was gifted to the leader of the free world—and a promise was made to “read it.” It seems, given the White House’s decision to withdraw, that the Pope’s sermonic gift unfortunately had little impact on the devastating decision. As people of faith we rely on Scripture, and although we freely interpret these texts in many ways, with the help of the Spirit, we all agree that the earth is not unclaimed—the earth belongs to the Lord; that nature is not ownerless—nature, too, belongs to the Lord; and that the earth, like all of creation, is the blessed gift of a God who breathed the Spirit upon it all and said, as Langston Hughes suggests, “…that’s good.”
What the ecological justice movement within the UCC, and within interfaith and ecumenical circles seeks to address are issues of environmental degradation and racism, climate control, food deserts, and even the responsible care of outer space (See UCC General Synod 30, Resolution 11. The movement invites the faithful to be good stewards of the gifts that have been placed before us—which means that we must care for the wetlands and the wilderness, the urban habitats as well as the deserted places. It means that we, the faithful, must take serious the science that speaks to our present situation—affirming that it is not a hoax but real—and begin to build integrative and supportive communities that are guided by faithful expressions of what it means to lease space on God’s green earth.