Dear Ones in Christ,
As I scrolled through the newsfeed on my phone last weekend, I was astounded by the number of stories related to our environment – all of them bad. The earth and humanity are crying out for relief and healing. Here are just a few examples but in no way a comprehensive list. The devastating flooding in Eastern Kentucky. Record-setting rains in Mississippi are causing the Mississippi River to flood, pouring water into businesses and homes. Four low-pressure areas in the Atlantic are being monitored for possible formation into tropical storms after a very quiet hurricane season thus far. A record heat wave has scorched southwestern China for the past two months, causing serious drought and disruption. Devastating floods have surged across Pakistan due to unusually heavy monsoon rains, killing more than 1,000 people since mid-June. Finally, the war in Ukraine has led to growing alarm about a potential radiation disaster as shelling continued around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
As followers of Jesus Christ, what does all of this call us to be and to do?
Let’s start with just a few reminders from Jesus our teacher, savior and Lord.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. …
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. …
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
Our United Methodist Social Principles are also clear about our responsibility:
“We acknowledge the global impact of humanity’s disregard for God’s creation. … The adverse impacts of global climate change disproportionately affect individuals and nations least responsible for the emissions. We therefore support efforts of all governments to require mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and call on individuals, congregations, businesses, industries, and communities to reduce their emissions.” (Global Climate Stewardship, ¶160.D)
“We believe war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ. We therefore reject war as an instrument of national foreign policy. We oppose unilateral first/preemptive strike actions and strategies on the part of any government. As disciples of Christ, we are called to love our enemies, seek justice, and serve as reconcilers of conflict. We insist that the first moral duty of all nations is to work together to resolve by peaceful means every dispute that arises between or among them.” (War and Peace, ¶165.C)
Jesus’ words, and those of our United Methodist Social Principles, are meant to spur us to action.
As disciples of Jesus Christ must choose to place the wellbeing of our fellow humans above our own convenience. We must embrace a lifestyle of humility, of mercy, and of peace. To that end, I invite you to join me in working to heal and care for our planet and its people in the following ways:
- PRAY – Pray for those affected by natural disasters and war around the world, as well as for those working for justice and peace.
- LEARN – Learn how you as an individual, as well as your congregation, can make small (and big!) changes that will make a big difference in caring for God’s creation. Here are a few places to start: Sustainability Booklet (westohioumc.org) or Climate • GBCS (umcjustice.org)
- JOIN – Join other United Methodists who care about our planet through the Global Ministries’ Creation Care Network (Global Ministries | Global Ministries Creation Care Network (umcmission.org)) or the UM Creation Justice Movement (Home | UMC Creation Justice (umcreationjustice.org)).
- ADVOCATE – Contact your elected officials to let them hear your voice as a person of faith. To help you prepare, learn more about the issues from the General Board of Church and Society: Peacebuilding • GBCS (umcjustice.org) and Climate • GBCS (umcjustice.org). You can find your representatives here: Elected Officials | USAGov
- GIVE – Support disaster response and United Methodist relief efforts in the Ukraine through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)
- U.S. Disaster Response - #901670
- International Disaster Response - #982450
- Give online here Disaster Response | West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church (westohioumc.org)
I urge you, as committed Christ-followers, to take seriously our shared responsibility to work for a more just, humane, and peaceful world.
Your servant in Christ Jesus,
† Bishop Gregory V. Palmer