A Big Role for the Church in Saving Creation

By Jim Ruyle, Hillsdale United Church of Christ
NativePlantGardenE.O. Wilson, the famous Harvard biologist, predicts that at the rate we’re going, half the species of plants and animals will be extinct or on the road to extinction by the end of this century, one fourth of the species by 2050. Wilson’s book, The Creation, is written in the form of a letter to a church pastor. Wilson asks the pastor why the church doesn’t speak out about this and surmises we are more concerned about our personal redemption than creation, or maybe we think the millennium will come before we finish off the earth. That’s not the problem with most of us. We know from scripture indicating God’s love for creation that we are called to take care of it. Our problem is that as church members, we hear such environmental predictions with a sense of helplessness as if they are too big for the church to take on.

In reality, saving creation is something we are not only called to do, it’s something the church is uniquely positioned to do better than most organizations. Douglas Tallamy, chair of the Dept. of Entomology at the University of Delaware, in his book, Bringing Nature Home, gives reason for this belief. He explains that excluding the land lost to agriculture and cities, suburbia offers sufficient space to support the remaining species of plant and animal wildlife if we restore habitat there. He urges property owners to eliminate invasive species like our English ivy and Himalayan blackberry and unnecessary grass areas that destroy habitat. He recommends we plant native species that will invite back the insects and other food sources our birds, fish and other wildlife depend on. Cities like Portland further urge us to disconnect our downspouts and run them through rain gardens, reduce our paved areas, and take other measures to reduce and filter water runoff. 

MISSION MEANS MORE

By Brenda Kame’enui, First Congregational UCC, Eugene, Oregon

Tasajera Islanders with FCC Eugene friends

Tasajera Islanders with FCC Eugene friends

Some of us in the United Church of Christ (UCC) flock tend to shrink from God/Jesus/religion talk in public. Mission is a word we’ve steered clear of since James Michener’s novel Hawaii. Webster defines mission as a “specific task or duty; calling in life; delegation; being sent on some service.” I like the American Heritage Dictionary definition: “a body of persons sent to conduct negotiations or establish relations with a foreign country.”

First Congregational Church UCC Eugene was not intent upon negotiating with a foreign country when members first went to Tasajera Island,  El Salvador in 2006. This tiny island, about an hour’s boat ride from the mainland of El Salvador, is home to a small, poor fishing village. That first group from Eugene looked forward to meaningful health care work with Salvadorans on the island, surely a “foreign” place to the North Americans.

Who knew this visit by a few doctors would blossom into a continuing relationship that flourishes on both sides of the border? Since that first trip, FCC-UCC Eugene has sent another half-dozen delegations, from 3-year-olds to 65-year-olds, who live and eat with islanders and work together on a variety of projects.

Environmental Justice

by Carol Stirling, Boise First Congregational United Church of Christ, Boise, Idaho

In early May, the most important CO2 observatory in the nation measured 400 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere, for the first time ever. The increase in carbon in the air is causing the Earth’s temperature to rise and is causing dramatic climate changes that are harming people and other life forms on Earth. The side effects of burning fossil fuels have proven to be more harmful than we expected, because the burning process releases chemicals into the air we breathe. The CO2 released into the upper atmosphere serve as a blanket over the earth that prevents the heat from escaping normally. Our goal should be to decrease the use of fossil fuels and encourage and invest in alternative energies such as solar and wind.

Idaho’s abundant renewable energy resources can fill a critical role in creating and maintaining a clean energy for Idaho. Idaho has available supplies of almost all known renewable energy resources to meet future needs. Idaho has lots of sun, lots of wind and geothermal heat that can meet our energy needs if we commit to developing these resources.