Years ago, I was walking up to my office in The United Methodist Building where we were hosting a prayer service celebrating Earth Day. As I approached, I noticed small yellow signs poking out of the grass. As I drew even closer, I could clearly read their message: “Keep Off – Pesticide Application.” Here we were hosting a public witness to demonstrate our faithful commitment to preserving and protecting God’s good creation and participants were standing on ground – holy ground - that had been defiled with toxins.
I learned a few lessons that morning. First, the work of environmental stewardship involves continuous education with colleagues and building management to ensure our policies and practices are followed. Second, I understood more deeply the power of symbols and the ways in which we can communicate our values – of stewardship and justice – not just with our words but also through our physical presence.
The United Methodist Building has stood directly across from the US Capitol (and our newer neighbor, the Supreme Court) since 1923. It serves as a hub of advocacy for peace and justice for United Methodists and many faith partners and non-profits. In recent years, we have invested in improvements to integrate environmental stewardship throughout the building – from switching to 100% renewable energy to replacing plastic water bottles with water refill stations.
While we continue to advocate for climate solutions and policies to shift to a clean energy future, we are working to model climate stewardship through our own practices and presence. Many of these changes – including our installation of a green roof – were profiled in this short video.
The 19th century preacher William Ellery Channing famously said “may your life preach more loudly than your lips.” May all of us remember that as we preach and teach the importance of faithfully addressing the climate crisis, we must also be attentive to the ways in which our lives and the practices of our organizations communicate these values.
The United Methodist Church is a proud partner of ecoAmerica’s BlessedTomorrow, a program by people of faith, for people of faith, to offer ideas, tools, and messages that help us serve as faithful stewards of creation and act on climate change. Learn more about our partnership and the resources available to you here.