The United Church’s “A New Creed” reminds us that we are called to live with respect in creation. Not respect “for” creation, as a separate entity. But respect “in” the creation that is all around and within us. That is our origin story, we people who were formed of soil and of one another.
As global temperatures rise, and destructive weather patterns become more frequent; as poor and vulnerable regions become more vulnerable; as the call to live into reconciliation rings out across this sacred land… How can we faithfully respond?
The United Church sent three delegates to COP21 in Paris, lifting up the church’s conviction that climate action is a moral and spiritual issue, and standing in solidarity with those most affected by climate change, particularly Indigenous people and partners in the global South.
The climate crisis is serving to highlight the interdependence of all life on earth. And the climate justice movement, globally, is growing in response. At the COP21 climate negotiations we heard clear calls to join in the struggle in defense of both future generations, and current generations. To resist notions that climate change is inevitable, to overcome nearly paralyzing despair and fear, to challenge the powers that seek to keep us reliant on unsustainable energy.
In this critical moment, remaining radically hopeful is an important act. And so is speaking truth to power – through local organizing, political advocacy, and maybe even civil disobedience.
The United Church, at GC42, voted to divest the church’s treasury funds from the top 200 fossil fuel companies. While many celebrated the move, it was also lamented, particularly by members in resource dependent regions. Moderator Jordan Cantwell recently held up those concerns, in a statement “On Fossil Fuels and Living into Decisions Made,” naming that “while the church is encouraging investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, we also want a ‘just transition for workers and communities’ affected by the shift away from oil.”
Learn more about the United Church’s work on climate justice:
- The 1992 ‘One Earth Community’ statement
- The Canadian Council of Churches’ 2015 statement “On Promoting Climate Justice and Ending Poverty in Canada”
- The 2015 Storforsen Appeal
Learn more about the diverse efforts by communities of faith to call attention to creation care, climate change, and global justice in the article “Faith Communities Organize to Save the Planet at COP21.”
Christian climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe says that the science tells us that climate change is happening, and that we rely on our faith to tell us how to respond.
How can we faithfully respond? How is your faith community responding?
-by Christine Boyle
Christine is the Director of Programs and Engagement at Fossil Free Faith Canada and was a United Church delegate to the UN Climate Conference (COP21). Read more about Christine.