Eco-Journey is the blog of the Environmental Ministries Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It includes a wide array of environmental topics: upcoming environmental events, links to interesting articles and studies, information on environmental advocacy, eco-theology topics, and success stories from churches that are going “green.”
Author Rebecca Barnes is the Associate for Environmental Ministries at the PC(USA). She is a graduate of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary with an MDiv and Master of Arts in Religion (MAR) dual degree.
Designated by Orthodox communities through Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios in 1989, recently instituted as "World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation" by Pope Francis, and even more recently by the World Council of Churches, we are encouraged to set aside September 1 as a day to pray for all God’s people and whole creation.
Thanks to pastors at Limestone Presbyterian Church for providing this wonderful bulletin insert that churches or individuals may use for prayer on September 1st--or the Sunday preceding or following--to join in this world day of prayer.
Bulletin Insert materials:
September 1st – World Day of Prayer for the Care for God’s Creation
Pope Francis recently proclaimed September 1st as the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation,” joining Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I of Constantinople, who earlier extended an invitation for Christians to offer together ”every year on this date prayers and supplications to the Maker of all, both as thanksgiving for the great gift of creation and as petitions for its protection and salvation.”
Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, the World Council of Churches General Secretary, wrote: “Pope Francis’s ecumenical initiative reinforces the growing emphasis on prayer for the care of creation among all the churches. We welcome the opportunity to join our efforts with those of the Ecumenical Patriarch and now the Catholic Church, and through prayer to sharpen our awareness and commitment to God’s creation, ‘our common home,’ as Pope Francis has called it.”
All-powerful God, You are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one. O God of the poor, Help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace. Amen.
“Laudato Si’ (“Praise Be to You”): On Care for Our Common Home,” 2015 Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis.
The Bible and Caring for God’s Creation
The fundamental mandate for creation care comes from Genesis 2:15, where God places Adam in the garden to "till it and keep it" (NRSV). A better translation from the Hebrew is "to serve it and to preserve it." In Genesis 1:26-28, God blesses humankind with dominion over the earth. This acknowledgement that humanity is the most powerful species on earth does not, however, give license to dominate and exploit the planet. Indeed, the following verses affirm the right of animals to share in the bounty of the earth's produce (Gen 1:29-30). Human "dominion" as intended in Genesis is best practiced in care for creation, in stewardship, which according to Genesis Noah fulfills best by implementing God's first endangered species act. More-over, the great creation psalm of the Psalter views humanity as one species among many animal species, all meant to flourish together (Psalm 104:14-23). The psalmist exclaims, “O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (v. 24).
Scripture affirms that God created the world in wisdom and out of love, and it is also out of love for the world that God gave Christ to redeem it (John 3:16). In Christ “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17), and “every creature under heaven” is to receive God’s good news (v. 23). According to Revelation, God’s work in the world is “make all things new” (21:5), to bring about a new creation that does not destroy the old but transforms it, renews it. If the church is the sign of the new creation, then the church must lead the way in caring for creation.
---Dr. William P. Brown, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary, (Copied from the Biblical Background for the 2015 Overture to add “Caring for God’s Creation” to G-1.0304 The Ministry of Members, Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware)
Caring for Creation and Life(Book of Order, W-7.5003)
God calls the Church in the power of the Holy Spirit to participate in God’s work of creation and preservation. God has given humankind awesome power and perilous responsibility to rule and tame the earth, to sustain and reshape it, to replenish and renew it.
In worship Christians rejoice and give thanks to God, who gives and sustains the created universe, the earth, all life, and all goods. They acknowledge God’s command to be stewards. They confess their own failures in caring for creation and life. They rejoice in the promise of the redemption and renewal of the creation in Jesus Christ, proclaimed in the Word and sealed in the Sacraments. They commit themselves to live as God’s stewards until the day when God will make all things new. (W-1.0000)
As stewards of God’s creation who hold the earth in trust, the people of God are called to
a. use the earth’s resources responsibly without plundering, polluting, or destroying,
b. develop technological methods and processes that work together with the earth’s environment to preserve and enhance life,
c. produce and consume in ways that make available to all people what is sufficient for life,
d. work for responsible attitudes and practices in procreation and reproduction,
e. use and shape earth’s goods to create beauty, order, health, and peace in ways that reflect God’s love for all creatures.
In gratitude for the gifts of creation, the faithful bring material goods to God in worship as a means of expressing praise, as a symbol of their self-offering, and as a token of their commitment to share earth’s goods. (W-2.5000; W-3.3507; W-5.5005; W-5.6000).
The Earth is the Lord’s
ST. DENIO 188.8.131.52 (“Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”)
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”
Creation reminds us, O God, of your love.
By grace we are learning, as year leads to year,
We’re called to be stewards, your caretakers here.
Your rainforests nurture the world that we share.
Your wetlands give animals shelter and care.
Your coral reefs cradle the life of the sea.
You’ve shown us, in love, what your good world can be.
Too often, O God, we abuse your good earth.
We fail to remember its beauty and worth.
We take from creation much more than we need,
We threaten your world through indifference and greed.
May we be good stewards of all that you give,
Protecting creation wherever we live.
May we be a church that renews and restores
And lovingly cares for this earth that is yours.
Biblical References: Genesis 1- 2, Psalms 8 and 24.
Tune: Welsh Folk Hymn, Adapted in Caniadau y Cyssegr, 1839
Text: Copyright © 2001 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Permission is given for free use of this hymn for the Annual World Day of Prayer for Caring for God’s Creation
Email: email@example.com Website: www.carolynshymns.com
The hymn is available online with the music as a free download.
Rebecca Barnes, Associate for Environmental Ministries (PCUSA)
Phone: 502-569-5624 Toll-free: 888-728-7228, ext 5624
Presbyterians for Earth Care
Phone: 828-277-7342 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our newest PC(USA) certified Earth Care Congregation, St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Portland, OR, already has a well-established and holistic earth care ministry. From working with a local farm to partnering with Bharati Integrated Rural Development Society (BIRDS) in India, this church is making a huge difference in individual lives and global witness. Involved in hunger and poverty alleviation, disaster response, environmental justice, and interfaith learning, St. Mark Presbyterian Church connects the issues that make social-ecological-economic justice work an important part of Christian discipleship.
During the summer of 2014, the church spent 10 weeks worshipping around the theme of ...
New Life Presbyterian Church (formerly North Como Presbyterian Church, and Knox Presbyterian Church) in Roseville, MN continues their faithful earth care work. They continue to make great strides in worship, education, facilities, and outreach activities. In addition to recycling, fair trade coffee, sharing their building, here are some of their accomplishments:
Reflections from Brant S. Copeland, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Tallahassee, FL. www.oldfirstchurch.org
I have been serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Tallahassee for almost 30 years. Throughout my pastorate our congregation has been deeply engaged in environmental stewardship. In 2006 our Session responded to the General Assembly’s call to become a “carbon neutral” congregation. We have accomplished this goal through the generosity and dedication of our members.
In order to accomplish our goal we conducted a capital campaign and made major changes in our historic sanctuary and other buildings. A central feature of our transition ...
Noah Wilding is a rising sophomore at Trinity High School who is fully committed to ending climate change. He is operating a totally green lawn care business. He has a solar panel for charging his electric mower, trimmer, and weedwacker, and he rides his bike to his mowing jobs, pulling his equipment in a cart behind him. Bill Young is a retired research scientist and is a volunteer in the PC(USA) Environmental Ministries office. Both Bill and Noah are members of the Earth Care Team at their home congregation, Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. CHPC is one ...