Earth preservers

Limiting carbon emissions cares for God’s creation

Jun 23, 2014 by

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Though we have sung “this world is not my home,” it’s what we have for now, and others will inherit it when we are gone. Keeping the house in good repair — or, by now, limiting the damage — is our sacred assignment.

The psalmist wrapped it up in five words: “The Earth is the Lord’s.”

Our duty to preserve the world God made motivates support for a new Earth-care effort: curbing carbon emissions that fuel climate change. On June 2 the Environmental Protection Agency announced regulations to restrict coal-fired power plants’ carbon pollution. The proposed rules represent an important first step to limit our consumptive lifestyle’s negative impact on the environment. The target is modest: a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. But it is hoped that this will be the start of something bigger, giving the U.S. the credibility to push other countries to enact similar measures.

Diverse people of faith are applauding this step to address the leading environmental issue of our time. Awareness has grown that climate change is a Christian ethical concern, not a hoax perpetrated by godless scientists. Young Christians especially expect their faith communities to do their part to safeguard future generations’ quality of life.
As habitual conservers of resources, Mennonites often find environmental stewardship comes naturally. It just feels right to grow some of our own food and burn less fossil fuel — and, not coincidentally, pay less at the grocery store, the gas pump and the electric meter.

But green Christianity arises from deeper sources than a culture of thrift. A 2013 Mennonite Church USA resolution calls caring for God’s creation “an essential part of the good news of Jesus Christ.” It cites Scripture to testify that “God’s mission is creation-encompassing: It is to recreate creation, to bring new creation.”

Global problems like greenhouse gas emissions need local solutions as well as national ones. In Kitchener, Ont., Glencairn Mennonite Brethren Church is setting a good example. On June 8 the congregation celebrated the installation of solar panels on its church roof. The array is expected to generate 10,000 kilowatt hours of power per year — clean energy that will be fed back into Ontario’s power grid. A grant from Solar City Initiative, a Mennonite Central Committee Ontario-supported program that encourages faith communities to practice conservation, helped fund the $44,000 project.

The congregation describes its motive: “Caring for God’s creation is a way to show thankfulness and respect to God. Being a good steward of creation also helps people in poverty around the world who are often most affected by climate change.”

Glencairn MB Church put up solar panels to show its love for God and neighbor. Locally or nationally, that is the Christian motive for addressing climate change.

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