Planting the seeds of Creation care
From planting trees to lobbying against mountaintop removal coal mining and working to slow global climate change, evangelical Christians across America are voicing an increasing concern for the health of our planet. This rising voice is gaining national media attention by prominent journalists such as 2006 Lifetime Emmy–award winner Bill Moyers, whose recent documentary “Is God Green?” aired this past fall on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and featured the congregation at the Vineyard Boise Church in Boise, Idaho. Convinced that caring for the Earth is part of a Christian call to ministry, Vineyard Boise Church started printing its bulletins on recycled paper, organized a program to collect used cell phones, and initiated a “Tithe Your Trash” recycling campaign. These believers are joining others in the broader Christian community as part of a growing “Creation care” movement that takes Christian faith to a different level: being more faithful stewards of the environment.
What’s Growing at Messiah?
According to Joseph Sheldon, distinguished professor of biology and environmental science at Messiah College, the Creation care movement is not simply the latest church trend. “Once evangelicals actually realize how serious the problems are,” he predicts, “this shift will be permanent and pervasive.”
The roots of this movement among evangelicals actually have been growing for quite some time right here at Messiah College. “Several of us have been working on this for twenty years,” says Sheldon, who is also on the board of directors for the Evangelical Environmental Network, an umbrella organization of individuals and groups committed to Creation care.
Messiah College continues to take a leadership role in its efforts to model environmental stewardship. Earlier this year, College President Kim Phipps signed the Evangelical Climate Initiative, a statement by more than 85 evangelical leaders, including Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-driven Life; Rich Stearns, president of World Vision; and David Neff, executive editor of Christianity Today. Expressing a biblically driven commitment to take steps to curb global warming, the initiative calls for governmental legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that are contributing to global climate change.
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