The Season of Creation is once again upon us! On September 1st, faith communities around the world will join in a collective recognition of God’s sacred creation. From its beginning as an Eastern Orthodox celebration initiated by Patriarch Dimitri in 1989, the liturgical season has grown to a global ecumenical festival involving 2.2 billion Christians, as well as countless other faith communities sharing in the annual celebration of God's gift.
The month-long event begins with Creation Day (also World Day of Prayer for Creation Care) on September 1st and ends with St Francis of Assisi Day – Blessing of the Animals – on October 4th. Following the season, which includes Ocean Sunday, Fauna and Flora Sunday, Storm Sunday, and Cosmos Sunday, the Jewish High Holidays begin with celebrations that offer their own climate-minded activities to help people of faith keep the momentum going. See the full calendar here and get useful materials to host or find a Season of Creation event in your area.
Organizations like our partner, Greenfaith have recently joined the festivities as collaborators, as well as, and Creation Justice Ministries who is hosting a Prayer Teleconference on September 1. Creation Justice Ministries even built a toolkit to get faith leaders ready the Season of Creation and World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
Catholic Bishops of the Philippines in 2003, the Third European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu in 2007, the World Council of Churches in 2008, and Pope Francis in 2015 have helped expand the celebration around the globe. Last year, Pope Francis released a powerful video that immediately went viral on social media, explaining the Vatican’s involvement in the Season of Creation.
Pulling from his own Encyclical, Laudato Si, Papa Francisco encouraged viewers to not only pray for creation but to care for our common home by acting on climate change. Timely situated between the release of his groundbreaking edict and the Paris Climate Agreement, the short video was powerful, to the point, and grounded in solutions. Masterful climate communications, if you ask me.
While Pope Francis’ climate leadership is influential, I’d be remiss not to highlight the climate leadership of his Eastern counterpart, The Ecumenical Patriarch His All Holiness Bartholomew, lovingly referred to as The Green Patriarch. During a press conference last November, the Patriarch surmised his climate message by sharing, "Basic human rights such as access to water, clean air, and sufficient food should be available to everyone without distinction or discrimination. We are convinced that we cannot separate our concern for human dignity, human rights or social justice from the concern for ecological preservation and sustainability."
The Green Patriarch’s influence within the wider Orthodox Christian community is only part of his leadership, as his words and ideas were influential in the drafting of Laudato Si, which used them to highlight the collective need for people of faith to act on climate change.
Similarly, Rev. Dr. Robert Shore-Goss, a pastor of United Church of Christ (UCC) in North Hollywood, recently penned an article encouraging the vast array of UCC communities to participate in this year’s Season of Creation. Citing the leadership of the Green Patriarch, Rev. Shore-Goss explained how “observing the Season of Creation for the last few years at the church at which [he] serves as pastor,” has reinforced his congregation's “commitment to Earthcare” and serves as an ideal “time to introduce…environmental issues through sermons, prayers, educational programs, and children programs.”
Rev. Dr. Robert Shore-Goss and the North Hollywood congregation have a long history of climate leadership, working closely with our partner Interfaith Power and Light. Learn more about how this partnership has transformed their congregation and facility into a “green Christian community of faith.”
Many UCC leaders have already adopted creation care as an integral part of their ministry, including Rev. Dr. Jim Antal, who serves the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ as the Conference Minister and President, and Rev. John C. Dorhauer, the ninth general minister and president of the United Church of Christ. Both leaders are active in raising awareness about climate change, regularly addressing the issue on national and congregational stages.
Many churches will use The Season of Creation to reignite their creation care committee or climate strategy, but, for some, it is a time to introduce the discussion of climate change to their congregation for the first time. If you would like to join in the festivities, there are many easy ways to get involved.
You can find a ton of great resources for hosting your own event or locate festivities in your area here. Additional resources, including liturgies, songs, videos, and educational materials may be found here.
If you have resources, events, or campaigns pertaining to the Season of Creation, make a comment below and we’ll be sure to share them with our partners and leaders.
Happy Season of Creation!
Ryan Smith is a writer at Blessed Tomorrow. He received his master's degree in Religious Studies with an emphasis on faith and climate change from the University of California, Riverside. Click here to email Ryan.