In honor and memory of Earth Day, Church Women United reflects on what is means to be a Good Samaritan to our earth. Across our country and world people continue to question whether climate change is real, while governments set policies and standards for our economy and living that wreak havoc on our environment. The people of Flint Michigan continues to have undrinkable water contaminated with lead from a decaying pipe system, which has not been addressed for over a year. The importance of our environment and our earth’s future is definitely something discussed in our culture and politics.
Caring for our earth and our earth’s importance is mentioned as well in our scriptures. As a fellow Church Woman pointed out in our 1989 “Policy Statement on Safeguarding the Health of the Earth and the integrity of Creation”, she says:
“The Scriptures portray the relationships between God and creation as covenant and inclusive: God, humans, and earth. “This is a sign of the covenant which I make between me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I set my bow in the cloud, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Gen. 9:12-13). The earth was included in the covenant!”
In is in the vision of the covenant faith, that Church Women United has long made social policies and stances that call for environmental justice and protections and care of the earth.
To witness the longevity of our commitment to caring for nature, we can go back to a social policy made in 1945 against the creation and distribution of atomic bombs. When I first looked at this policies, I wondered how they would be considered environmental policies. But as I continued to research our past, it seems that more than 10 policies were made in the span of a decade trying to respond to the harmful effects of atomic bombs and nuclear energy, both in the use of war and in the damages to the environment. Our history shows church women calling out to the US government and UN to stop the creation of bombs, stop nuclear testing, and rightful awareness of the destruction of atomic energy.
Church Women did not stop there. They continued making social policies to protect the environment. Their work culminated in a four-page, beautifully written document of our 1989 “Policy Statement on Safeguarding the Health of the Earth and the Integrity of Creation”.
Today we are being called to choose life anew by “coming home” to who we really are. It is necessary to “come home” theologically and geographically — to become participating members of the life community of the earth where we live. The rationale for dealing with our ecological cries in the way this policy statement attempts to do is the firm conviction that we are all in some way polluters, subduers and dominators, not because we are evil, but because we are in need of deeper understandings of our connections to the Source and web of life. We members of Church Women United are being called upon to recommit ourselves to the covenant relationship with Yahweh, sisters and brothers, and creation. In covenanting, we accept responsibility for each other, the earth, and the whole creation. We covenant to respect and love differences, uniqueness, and the community. Therefore, Church Women United calls its members:
To be inclusive of creation, incorporating the earth’s wisdom and ways into our everyday lives and activities.
To view ourselves as participating members of the community of life, not as its dominators.
To accept healing, inspiration, and support from the earth.
To use, whenever possible, only those products that the earth can recycle naturally.
To plant gardens if only in flower pots and share the experience with our families and others.
To work legislatively for stronger laws to protect the water, air and soil systems that the earth may be restored.
To encourage and model conversation and responsible use of energy in all areas of life.
To learn more about the laws of differentiation, interiority and communion that guide the earth’s unfolding of life and integrate these principles into our work for justice and peace.
To work to protect all people, in particular the poor and those receiving the greatest impacts from the pollution and poisoning of the earth.
To spread the intent of this policy statement and to write even better for our own particular church and constituencies.