The Earth is the Lord’s: New Policy on Preaching and Teaching about Climate Change from the 2018 Presbyterian Church in the USA General Assembly

By Karyn Bigelow
Last month in St. Louis, the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly passed another new policy on engaging with issues of climate change - through preaching, embodying, advocating, and proclaiming eco-justice. The Presbytery of Monmouth overtures the 223rd General Assembly (2018) to:
  1. Call upon the whole church to raise a prophetic voice regarding the urgency of healing the climate of the earth, our home and God’s gift for the future of all life, human and nonhuman.
  2. Call upon the whole church to engage prayerfully with the following priorities as we seek to initiate a new moral era:
    1. Let our clergy accept the mantle of moral leadership. Now is the time for clergy to speak from their pulpits about the moral obligation of our generation to protect God’s creation.
    2. Let the world know that we who follow Jesus will not back away from God’s call to protect our common home. When the powers that be deny or obscure the truth, we followers of Jesus will proclaim the truth to protect our common home.
    3. Let all of us incarnate the changes for which we long. Now is the time for congregations and for every person of faith to set a moral example through our own words and actions. As individuals and as communities, let us commit to making decisions of integrity in our energy choices, even as we commit to hold all our religious, political, corporate, and global leaders accountable to do the same.
    4. Let us proclaim truth in the public square. We are now living in a John 18:37 moment, in which we must hold to the truth we understand from the Bible and from the sacred book of nature, recognizing that when truth is compromised, only power prevails.
    5. Let our communities of faith be bold and courageous as we address one of the greatest moral challenges that the world has ever faced.
    6. Let us do all we can to change America's understanding of the story that our generation is writing. Let us begin a new story—a story that is not dependent on increased greenhouse gas emissions or on wealth for the few and misery for the many.
This overture was inspired and based on the resolution, “The Earth Is the Lord’s—Not Ours to Wreck, Imperatives for a New Moral Era” passed by the United Church of Christ National Synod on July 3, 2017. Now is the time to encourage deeper ecumenical cooperation to lift up our collective moral voice. We are partnering with Blessed Tomorrow, a program designed to provide us with the tools and resources to engage on climate change, in order to support our congregations to preach, embody, advocate, and proclaim this moral imperative. Through this partnership we will be able to offer new messaging, training, and other resources to reduce energy use and lift our voices in advocacy for climate solutions. We will be updating our website, blog, and social media with new helpful resources, so keep watch in the next few weeks and months for new content! Accepting that it is up to us, whether in the streets, at our State Houses, in the halls of power, with our phones, emails, technology, and social media by committing our time, financial resources, and prayers—let us pour ourselves out to bend the moral arc of justice, with joy in our hearts, beauty in our sights, and hope for the children. To read the rationale behind the overture, see https://www.pc-biz.org/#/search/3000298.

The Presbyterian Church in the USA is a proud partner of Blessed Tomorrow, a coalition of faith leaders committed to serve as faithful stewards of creation. Founded by ecoAmerica, Blessed Tomorrow offers tools, resources, and communications to demonstrate visible climate leadership, inspiring and empowering faith leaders to speak about, act on and advocate for climate solutions. Learn more about our partnership and the resources available to you here.

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