In addition to recovering an authentically biblical and scientifically informed appreciation of creation, adequate Christian theology views salvation holistically, encouraging human participation in social history and the natural world as one unified reality with a destiny of shalom. With that posture, churches can undertake the following earth-community responsibilities.

  • Become informed and explore with others the environmental peril, related patterns of social inequity, and a theology and ethic of eco-justice.


  • Inculcate a sacramental respect for all creatures and careful stewardship of every place through worship, education, and service.


  • Wrestle with the vocational and moral dilemmas of shifting to less consumptive lifestyles, more appropriate technologies, and a different pattern of economic life to serve eco-justice values. Offer special pastoral care to the laity whose work should be phased out.


  • Appreciate insights from other living faiths and learn what resources they bring to the spiritual quest and vocational dilemmas of these times.


  • Face issues of political and personal responsibility that come with the environmental challenge, exploring implications for daily work, community life, and public engagement.


  • Foster constructive local responses to global problems, looking for international, ecumenical connections (for example, in response to climate change, the quest for food security, the urgent task of overcoming poverty).


  • Encourage appropriate technologies at home and abroad (become informed about some of these - for example, renewable energy systems - and how to implement them locally).


  • Explore urban and rural dimensions of ecology, participating in community organizations that care for place and act for environmental justice.


  • Advocate changes in social policy and practice that serve the goals of ecology and equity (working with civil society groups, environmental specialists, public officials, as well as business and professional people who value justice and sustainability).


  • Build communities of sustainable sufficiency, joining with others to envision and move toward reverential, sustainable development, and foster corporate responsibility consistent with this goal.


  • Express individual lifestyle integrity and foster institutional practices consistent with a spirituality of creation-justice-peace, avoiding trivial and legalistic responses.

 

From Earth Habitat: Eco-Injustice and the Church's Response, edited by Deiter Hessel and Larry Rasmussen, copyright 2001 by Augsburg Fortress, Minneapolis, Minn., www.augsburgfortress.org, 1-800-328-4648. Used by permission.

Dieter Hessel is founding director of the ecumenical Program on Ecology, Justice and Faith, Princeton. He is also an author and editor of other books.

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