The Church and Climate Change

There are a lot of things happening at Annual Conference this year – a lot of important conversations for our church to be having. From human sexuality, to the war in Afghanistan, to the issue of climate change – there is a lot of important business on the slate this year.

Last night I had the opportunity to co-lead a workshop with David Radcliff of New Community Project on the Query on Climate Change that will be an item of business on the floor this afternoon. It was thrilling to have a standing room only crowd in the room, and a good and robust conversation around the variety of issues surrounding climate change – is it real? what can we do? who has financial vested interests in seeing it affirmed or denied?what is actually going on?

In the midst of all of these, the one that hit home the most for me was the question – is this something the church should even be addressing? Shouldn’t we leave this to the environmentalists and scientists?

This is why, for me, talking about climate change from a faith perspective, from a position of my faith, is as much of a no-brainer as it is. Because at its root, the human struggle with climate change isn’t actually about the science – it is a reflection of our faith. Of how we live as transformed people in this world. It is, at its root, a matter of our souls. Whether or not the science is exactly right, we are living in a way that isn’t sustainable and in relationship with the rest of God’s Creation – what climate change does is put on display for us the impacts of how we have been living. And it is up to us, as the church, to lead a moral and soul searching shift in our manner of living.

And, as was noted last night, the Church of the Brethren has a message to share here. Of simple living and community. Of another way of living – with each other and with the rest of Creation around us. To some extent, we turn to the scientists and environmentalists using their God given gifts to tell us what is going on, and in what ways we can make a difference. But it is a matter of our faith and our souls that we decide to change the way we live – and live as beings created in the image of God, who declared the entirety of this Creation good.

Why Annual Conference Matters

This went out in the last newsletter from Peace Witness – Called to Witness – but I thought I would post it here, too. It feels to me like a good reminder of why Annual Conference is such an important time for us as Brethren. Who are we, when we gather together? What message do we have for each other, and for the world?

You are getting this newsletter a mere 3 days before Annual Conference 2011 kicks off. Its a time of community, fellowship, worship, and action with one another as a whole communion of Brethren. If you can’t make it, there are so many ways to follow along. Keep track of things on Twitter, with the hashtag #CoBAC2011. Track Newsline updates. Or check out the Brethren blog, where I will be posting an update or 2. There will be workshops from this office on climate change, what is happening in DC, and selective conscientious objection– not to mention many, many more from Global Mission Partnerships. Come visit us at a workshop, or at the booth.

But what, might you ask, does Annual Conference really have to do with the content of this newsletter, and the advocacy work we do to witness for peace in Washington and around the world? Only everything!

Hopefully you have noticed by now that every action alert you get from this email list has at the bottom Church of the Brethren policy that applies to that particular call to action. Friends, the actions we take together – whether they be directed at Congress, the White House, local and state governments, or society has a whole – are based on what we say together at Annual Conference. This is where priorities are set for what we can work together on as Christians in the Brethren tradition.

So, what does this really mean? It means if you want to see an action alert about something that you haven’t seen yet, you have the power to make that happen! Just work on a resolution to send to Annual Conference. Of course, it is a bit more complicated than that (you need the support of your church,
district, ect.), but it is also just that simple. The issues you hear about from Peace Witness Ministries are the ones we have said together that we want to hear about and work on. It is part of our Christian witness and mission with one another as Brethren.

So, what is going to happen next week? It is hard to say. New business includes a query on global climate change from the Pacific Southwest District, from
which could grow calls to action personally, congregationally, as well as opportunities to speak to those in government. From the Ministry and Mission Board could come a resolution on the war in Afghanistan – from which there will certainly be opportunities for action. But the point really is, from these weeks we spend together each year comes the foundation of all the work that we do for the rest of the year. Annual Conference matters. And I hope to see you, or at least hear from you, while I am in Grand Rapids!