The Time has Come for Every Pastor and Congregation to Join the Pope in Restoring Creation


Jim Antal

9/14/2015

None of us should be surprised that the Pope himself has to show up to get the leaders of the most powerful nation in the world to focus on our relentless destruction of creation.  While President Obama has marshaled his executive authority to launch several essential initiatives, the fossil fuel industry continues to provide a gold-plated safe harbor to any Congressperson who will ignore science and promote the status quo. 
 
Climate change is the greatest moral issue humanity has ever faced.  If you are a pastor who has yet to engage the issue from your pulpit, the time has come.  If you are in a congregation which is yet to engage the issue and step up to the defining challenge our generation is facing, the time has come to speak with your pastor and chart a course of commitment.
 
Climate leaders from churches throughout New England invite you and your church to join A NEW AWAKENING – A Season of Prophetic Climate Witness through preaching, prayer and practice.  Commit to preach at least one sermon on climate sometime between October 4, 2015 (Feast Day of St. Francis) to February 7, 2016 (the last Sunday of Epiphany).  The Mass Conference UCC together with NEREM (New England Regional Environmental Ministries) are offering all the resources you or your congregation may need to effectively engage the opportunity this moment presents. 
 
Bound in covenant, driven by love, buoyed by hope, informed by science – clergy can play a crucial role in assuring that the Eden into which we were born will be more than a grief-stricken memory for our grandchildren.  Preaching actually matters!  A 2014 Survey on Religion, Values, and Climate Change makes it clear that people of faith who have heard a sermon on climate change are more inclined to accept climate change as real and more willing to take action. 
 
Here are several opportunities for pastors to join colleagues seeking to identify how God is calling you to engage this issue in your preaching and ministry:

In affirming the scientific consensus, Pope Francis has declared that our world needs a new moral trajectory.  And it is impossible to contemplate how the citizens, towns, corporations and countries of the world will make the necessary changes unless they are inspired by religious leaders and communities who are responding to God’s call.
 
We all know from past examples that this is how major culture-change unfolds -- the abolition of slavery, the end of child labor, the winning of the civil rights act, the reconciliation of post-Apartheid South Africa, and the advancement of marriage equality and other GLBTQ concerns -- all of these cultural transformations were the result of religious leadership.
 
Now is the time for religious leaders to articulate this new moral trajectory, and in doing so engage a new vocation for the church.
 



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