The Earth is My Parish

by | Mar 7, 2012 | 2 comments

John Wesley famously said, “The world is my parish.”
I believe this generation of Christians is called to claim the whole Creation as ours.
Even as people are suffering from hunger, thirst, the effects of war, unemployment, and a dizzying array of natural disasters, the Earth is suffering too. Climate change, polluted oceans, disappearing species, melting poles, and deforestation are taking their toll on the interdependent web of life God created.
Our fates are tied. We are seeing with greater clarity that what we do to the Earth, we do to each other. And what we do to each other ripples out throughout Creation.
Resurrection Sunday and Earth Day are just around the corner. Both focus on fresh, new life. This is a perfect time to start a green ministry in your church!
But don’t worry about biting off more than you can chew or gulping more than you can swallow. Instead take the “S.I.P.” approach.
1. Start! Even if it means starting small. Many churches recycle. Now take the next step and close the recycling loop. Stock the restrooms with 100% recycled paper products. I like Marcal’s Small Steps toilet paper. Or switch from regular coffee and tea to Fair Trade. Or make sure lights and equipment are turned off when not in use. Small steps build consciousness and momentum.
2. Make it Intergenerational. A recent Barna poll shows that young Christians leave the church in part because the church seems anti-science, and doesn’t deal with the problems of the real world. You can address that. Take a Mother Earth Mission trip and connect with the youth and young adults in your church and community. Clean up a local river or waterway. Pick up trash. Plant trees. Include boomers and seniors, too. This is a concrete way to reach out beyond the walls of your church while making a statement that Christians care about the environment.
3. Preach! Pastor, your impact is larger than you know. Fossil fuels create a sizable carbon footprint. But you have an even larger spiritual footprint in people’s lives. When you preach or pray something it becomes REAL. Check out Green Church: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rejoice! for sermon ideas. Or try incorporating a simple refrain,in your weekly prayer concerns like, “For the gifts of earth and heaven we are grateful. Help us hear the cries of creation, and teach us to be wise stewards of this good gift.”
Six years ago I preached a sermon on recycling. It was summer and most folks were gone. As far as I could tell it was a big fat dud. But one person was listening and it touched something in him. He started a little recycling ministry. That grew into a small business. One that is continuing to this day. It has changed the consciousness of that town. You never know the power of your words!
Here’s to the Resurrection and Renewal of all Creation! Including your congregation. 🙂

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  1. Duane Short

    You probably don’t want to hear this but, Rebekah… you are awesome! Thanks for all your great work and the clarity you bring to the connection between the inseparable spiritual and physical components of our existence on this great planet earth. Duane Short

  2. Rebekah Simon-Peter

    Hey Duane, glad you found something of use here. We ARE deeply interconnected on this little globe. Your work at Biodiversity Conservation Alliance tells the other end of the story. Hats off!