UCC General Minister and President Geoffrey Black (center) signs the shared statement on climate change while James Hazelwood, Bishop of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, look on.
Leaders of the United Church of Christ, The Episcopal Church, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the American Baptist Churches USA joined together at the Climate Revival Fesitval in Boston on April 27 to sign Lazarus, Come Out: A Shared Statement of Hope in the Face of Climate Change.
"It is essential that we, as religious and spiritual leaders, speak up, because climate change is a moral and justice issue. The choices and actions of human beings are largely responsible for driving climate change, and all of us need repentance and conversion. We can no longer remain blind to the fact that our sinful natures, driven by greed and lack of concern for our sisters and brothers, are at the center of this crisis," says one part of the statement.
350.org Found Bill McKibben addressed several hundred religious leaders and church members via video at the Climate Revival: An Ecumenical Festival to Embolden the Renewal of Creation on April 27, 2013, at Old South Church in Boston. This was his message.
Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, gave a powerful sermon on climate change at Trinity Church in Copley Square. She wove her comments with the threads of the Lazarus story in the Gospel of John. Film and editing by Dr. Robert A. Jonas.
Denominational Leaders reading and signing the Climate Statement.
Reviving the Climate
By The Rev. Eric S. Anderson, Minister of Communications and Technology for the Connecticut Conference UCC
They came from all over New England, and from several Christian traditions. Some were lay, some were ordained, some were church leaders at the conference or diocesan levels. Some were hopeful, some were joyful, some were distressed, some were afraid: What they shared was a conviction that it is time, and past time, to serve and revive our home planet, Earth.
Held in the midst of the UCC's Misson 4/1 Earth initiative, raising awareness and performing practical Earth care during the Easter season, the Climate Revival was planned by UCC and Episcopal leaders in Massachusetts. The day's two preachers led the denominations themselves: UCC General Minister and President the Rev. Geoffrey Black addressed the morning worship service at Old South Church UCC, while the Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katherine Jefferts Schori, preached at the afternoon service in Trinity Episcopal Church.
Moving between the two churches, the worshipers passed the spontaneous memorial to the Boston Marathon bombing and its victims. With the re-opening of Boylston Street, the tributes had been moved to a corner of Copley Square. Members of the procession placed daffodil blooms at the memorial as they passed.
The day's Scripture, John 11:38-44, is the story of the raising of Lazarus. Both Black and Schori found great inspiration in the text. Black observed that though Jesus weeps at the death of his friend, he does not stop with grief. "I cannot end on the note of grieving," he declared. "This is a revival, and we are people of hope."
"We take our cue from Jesus, and move from grief to action."
Schori, a trained marine biologist, stayed with the reality of the body in her sermon. "The gaping maw of our greed is already making life harder for our human brothers and sisters," she said. "We were not created to be solitary beings."
"Now breathe, blow, bellow for Lazarus," she urged the congregation, "that that body may be set free to renew the Earth."
Worshipers also heard addresses via video from 350.org founder and organizer Bill McKibben and from the Most Rev. Desmond Tutu, retired Archbishop of Johannesburg, South Africa. Quoting Exxon Mobil's CEO, who said that his philosophy was to make money, McKibben insisted that Christianity's philosphy must be "to make sense." We're called to repentance and action; "If it's wrong to wreck the climate," he declared, "it's wrong to profit from it."
Similarly, Archbishop Tutu noted that Adam and Eve were commanded to tend and keep the Garden of Eden, not to destroy it. "We are God-carriers made for each other. Yet, we are worshipping money rather than God."
"We must demand that for once we put planet and people ahead of profit."
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