People around the world are taking the threat of climate change seriously. In all countries, people, governments, and nongovernmental organizations are making plans and taking actions. On August 3, 2015, President Obama released the "Climate Action Plan" to reduce carbon pollution from power plants by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. It is an aggressive but much needed plan to make this planet a safer and sustainable place for all of us to inhabit.
Other organizations and religious groups such as the World Council of Churches, 350.org, Fast for Climate, Religions for Peace are involved in working towards climate justice and sustainability. The Lausanne Movement, a global network of evangelical Christians, is another group that takes creation and climate change seriously. The Lausanne Movement "connects influencers and ideas for global mission, with a vision of the gospel for every person, an evangelical church for every people, Christ-like leaders for every church, and kingdom impact in every sphere of society."
Since 2010 the Lausanne Movement has intentionally embraced creation care as an integral part of the gospel mission. One results of this initiative is Lausanne's Global Campaign for Creation Care and the Gospel, a five-year, $500,000 effort to establish evangelical creation care movements around the world. The campaign, which has already been to Southeast Asia and East and Central Africa, came to Canada and the United States recently by means of a conference at Gordon College, near Boston, from July 27-30, 2015. The Rev. Edward Brown, Global Campaign and Conference Director, said,
"Our goal was to bring together the best scientific, theological and practical minds in the US and Canadian evangelical communities. I think we achieved that." Brown continues, "What was a surprise to me was the extent to which this group embraced both 'lamentation' and hope, that is, genuine grief and distress at the extent of environmental devastation and degradation in the world, but also a confidence that with hard work and dependence on God, creation can in fact be healed."
The conference, which included approximately 100 theologians, scientists, creation care practitioners and evangelical leaders, involved lively discussions, presentations, prayer times and breakout groups. All these activities brought a renewed commitment and dedication to how individuals, churches and organizations can recommit themselves to creation care, fossil fuel divestment, climate justice and sustainability. One example of this unified commitment to creation stewardship is a national movement in the United States called Climate Caretakers that launches publicly on August 11, 2015. Climate Caretakers is a community of believers committed to faithful prayer and regular action in order to respond to the challenge of climate change. This grassroots campaign aims to connect ordinary Christians with biblically-based, real world solutions to climate change.
One of the organizers of the conference, Brian Webb, the Director of Climate Caretakers, states
"The time for silence on climate change within the church has passed. No longer simply a political or even a scientific issue, climate change is now a moral imperative that the church must respond to. Rather than arguing the science or debating the details, the Lausanne Creation Care and the Gospel conference focused on aligning our actions with real world, biblically-based solutions. We believe that Christian faithfulness demands action on environmental challenges, that these challenges are solvable, and that Jesus provides hope for a time of crisis. Ultimately, we are motivated to care for creation by love--God's love for us and our love for our global neighbors."
Long-time creation care advocate and founder of Restoring Eden, Peter Illyn, highlighted the conference with his call to love God and serve others by caring for the creation. Rejecting the old-style linear relationships of God above humanity above nature, Illyn argued that we need to view creation as a triangle--God at the top, with humans and creation as the bottom corners.
"It's the gospel of reconciliation between God, humanity, and creation," says Illyn. "The good news is that because Jesus died on the cross, these three relationships can all be reconciled. We won't get our theology right until we understand the loving relationships between each of these."
Faithful stewardship means creation care. As Christians and as world citizens, it is urgent that we come together to care for the earth that God entrusts to us. It doesn't take one church or one organization, it takes all of us to save the planet.