Nearly three years ago, I held my seven-day-old great-granddaughter, Penelope, for the first time. As Penny’s tiny sleeping body snuggled against my chest, I felt like her heart and mine began beating as one. In that sacred moment of connection, I felt great joy and deep sadness. The joy of the miracle of a new life was in my arms. She was a brand new creation! No one like her has ever existed before! Simultaneously, sadness about the condition of the earth in which Penny will live as an adult casts a shadow on that sacred event.
In that moment, I experienced a renewed, passionate call to find a way to do more to care for the earth and future generations of human and sentient beings.
Before that day, I had read two books:
(1) Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? Written by United Methodist layman, Bill McKibben
(2) Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change. Written by Jim Antal, United Church of Christ activist and public theologian.
I had participated in a Denver Climate March and I was a member of the Green Team of Arvada United Methodist Church. I joined that team because I was impressed with its track record of educating about and implementing sustainable policies as well as installing solar panels on the church roof. At home, Tom and I increased our efforts to live a sustainable lifestyle, consume less, and compost more.
As a retired United Methodist pastor, I began to wonder what my much valued United Methodist Denomination was doing to be a prophetic voice on behalf of creation. I was pleased to read the proposed 2020 Social Principles document entitled The Community of All Creation. In the document is a necessary acknowledgment that we are facing an existential crisis and a call to repurpose the church into a prophetic form of mystical activism focused on love of creation. I believe it is a love that will not let us go until we lean into becoming a beloved community which includes, heals, and cares for all creation.
I am convinced that climate change is the umbrella issue which hovers over and around all the challenging issues of our day. People of color are disproportionately affected by climate change. Racism and climate change go hand in hand. COVID-19 is a warning of other potential threats. Consumption, deforestation, and pollution caused by humans are graphic reminders that we are destroying ourselves and that the earth will be just fine without us. Human division in politics does not provide for the worldwide cooperation needed to fully replenish balance and provide sustainability of our earth.
Because I am a person of faith, I still have hope and believe that we as a church can be part of a team of global stakeholders who choose to “call into existence the things that do not exist.” Romans 4:17.
So, I sat down at my kitchen table and wrote a proposal to Bishop Karen. With a few re-writes from other UMC members, four of us presented the proposal to Bishop Oliveto on Earth Day April 22. Her response was, “Let’s do it!” On that day the Mountain Sky Conference gave birth to a newly created Creation Justice Task Force. We are launching this important ministry because of our love of creation! We are seeking task force members. Come join us! Let’s do it for the children!
Rev. Sharon McCormick, Arvada UMC Green Team