By the Rev. Canon Pam Hyde, Canon for Creation Care
As Episcopalians, we have some standard ministries that we are familiar with. Ministries such as children and youth ministry, or Altar Guild. Perhaps music ministry, outreach or pastoral care ministry. But creation care may be a ministry you’re unfamiliar with. Now that the diocese has a creation care ministry — and maybe your church even has one —perhaps you have questions about it or about some of the things that it covers. If you do, we’d like to hear what your questions are, and we want to provide you with some answers. And here to kick things off are a few questions we suspect that more than a few of you might have.
Q: What does “creation care” mean?
A: Caring for creation means actively loving all that God created — this earth that we call home and all life on it. That active love is manifested in the ways we live into to the responsibility first given to Adam by God as he put him in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2:15 tells us that Adam was “to till” the garden “and keep it.” So creation care means keeping the earth that God created and taking care of all life on it — protecting it, sustaining it, and ensuring its flourishing. As caretakers of God’s creation — or earth keepers, as some of us may see ourselves — we reflect the love that God has for all that he created, and we show that love through our actions.
Q: Is the science around climate change really solid or is much of it speculation?
A: The scientific consensus on climate change is extremely strong. Perhaps the best way to see this is through the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. Through its assessments, the IPCC identifies the strength of scientific agreement in different areas and indicates where further research is needed. IPCC scientists volunteer their time to assess the thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers published each year to provide a comprehensive summary of what is known about the drivers of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and how adaptation and mitigation can reduce those risks.
Although, as with all science, unknowns exist and assumptions are made from time to time, what is scientifically known about climate change is now generally known with a fairly high level of certainty. Climate change has been studied all over the world for decades, and more is known about it every day as peer-reviewed scientific studies continue to be published.
Q: Shouldn’t we Christians be about social justice and not environmental care?
A: We as Christians must be about both social justice and environmental care. These are not mutually exclusive endeavors for followers of Christ. Consider the Five Marks of Mission of the Anglican Communion, the body of churches including the Church of England, the Episcopal Church, and other churches that hold essentially the same faith, order, and worship. These Five Marks of Mission are:
1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
2. To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
3. To respond to human need by loving service
4. To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth
The fourth mark and the fifth mark are no more in conflict than are the first and second mark. We are called as Christians to both transform the unjust structures of society and strive to safeguard the integrity of creation. Jesus teaches us that being a Christian is rarely about either/or propositions, rather it is almost always about living out our lives in a both/and way. We can care about both social justice and protecting God’s creation. Our actions can serve to bring justice and wholeness to both the social structures that bind the people of this world and to the natural systems that connect all life on this earth. God’s love extends to all that he created, and we who were created in his image are called to extend our love beyond ourselves to all his creation as well.
You can find more questions and answers on the FAQ page of the Creation Care section of the diocesan website. But you all are the ones that we hope will give us the questions to keep adding to that FAQ page. What can we answer for you? What burning questions about creation care, climate change, renewable energy, how to start a creation care ministry in your church, or other such topics, do you have? We invite you to email your questions to Canon Pam Hyde!