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By JP Smith, Red Mountain UMC

As the hymn goes, “I can hear you calling in the night.”  My creation care story seriously began 10 years ago with the arrival of my first of two grandchildren. Looking into their eyes I saw the trust they had in me to keep them safe. But the world climate was becoming wilder and more unsettled. We were polluting the air and water faster than the Earth could react. We were not living sustainably. My calling was coming in the night as images of violent weather changes and displaced Syrian farmers replayed in my brain. What could a leaky vessel like me, that avoided public speaking, do that would make any difference?

The Climate Reality movie, An Inconvenient Truth, came out about this time and there it was: indisputable SCIENCE in the shape of a hockey stick graph. Up until now, our little group prayed, marched, and beat a drum. This would change everything. We could show scientific evidence to the skeptics, they would join our efforts and then we could slow “global warming” as it was called then. The skeptics threw our science back in our puzzled faces. Their need to identify with their “tribe” caused them to avoid science which seemed to challenge them, not enlighten them. Time to rethink our approach.

President Obama was elected and my smile was nearly as big as his while he and his government took actions that really made a difference in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are heating the atmosphere. More citizens became aware of changes in their local weather. The droughts became longer. The atmosphere can hold more moisture, causing violent flooding. And no place is safe from wildfires. Climate refugees are being forced off their lands, into cities, causing violent reactions. I facilitated three, climate education presentations at our church over two years. The Pope issued his encyclical. Hope was on the way in the form of an international climate agreement in Paris. And into this turmoil came a new, divisive President. And thus began endless protests for citizen’s rights and climate justice.

My efforts to protect our grandkids was bogging down when a climate scientist, married to an Evangelical pastor, caught my attention. She demonstrated how to get through to climate skeptics by talking about saving money and creation care. Katharine Hayhoe was connecting with folks across the country by acknowledging God’s gift of creation. She created videos named “Global Weirding.” I was also making that connection through the UMC Social Principles. It was all coming together and making sense. For our congregation, we used the Climate Justice- A Call to Hope & Action curriculum for our most recent education effort. When the email came to let me know my application to the EarthKeepers training  was approved, I knew the theology and synergy I had been missing would be provided. I traveled to Arkansas for the four days, plus two travel days, of training (the next opportunity is October in Minnesota.)

As I take my place with the United Methodist Church EarthKeepers I feel confident that we are a positive force in creation care. I answered the call and still tear up when I sing, “Here I am Lord, if you need me.” With me modeling this behavior, perhaps the grandkids will take their place in creation care?

Additional Information:

  • EarthKeepers is a part of Global Ministries, developed to a large degree by Rev. Pat Watkins and United Methodist Women. EarthKeepers participate in four days of intensive training in theology and community organizing.
  • EarthKeepers help others understand how caring for God’s creation is a core part of our identity as Christians. With group input, they develop a personal project plan.
  • EarthKeepers commit to 10 hours per month providing leadership for a community project or advocacy campaign that aims to transform our relationship to God, the earth, and one another.
  • EarthKeepers meet quarterly with a regional cohort for worship and ongoing support and training.
  • EarthKeeper’s application can be obtained by email from Rev. Susan Mullin at

Sources:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huX1bmfdkyA
  2. http://earthministry.org/advocacy/pope-francis-encyclical-on-the-environment/
  3. http://katharinehayhoe.com/wp2016/
  4. http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/the-natural-world
  5. http://www.umwmissionresources.org/products/climate-justice-call-to-hope-and-action
  6. http://centerformissioninnovation.org/event/earthkeepers-training-october/

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