By Jim Ruyle, Hillsdale United Church of Christ
E.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.