American Baptist Churches
Presbyterian Church U.S.A.
Quaker (Religious Society of Friends)
Reformed Church in America
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church
American Baptist Churches (www.abc-usa.org)
Excerpted from “The American Baptist Policy Statement on Ecology,” in Our Only Home: Planet Earth. The full text can be found online here.
“The study of ecology has become a religious, social, and political concern because every area of life is affected by careless use of our environment. The creation is in crisis. We believe that ecology and justice, stewardship of creation, and redemption are interdependent. Our task is to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ until the coming of the Kingdom on Earth. All God’s people must be guided by the balance of reverence, the acknowledgment of our interdependence, the integrity of divine wholeness and the need for empowerment by the Holy Spirit to image God by our dominion over creation (Mark 10:43-45). If we image God we will reflect in our dominion the love and the care that God has for the whole creation, ‘for God so loved the world…’ (John 3:16, Romans 8:21-22, Matthew 5:43-48).”
Excerpted from Creation: Called to Care, Statement of the Church of the Brethren 1991 Annual Conference. The full text can be found online here.
“Why should Christians care about the environment? Simply because we learn in Genesis that God has promised to fulfill all of creation, not just humanity, and has made humans the stewards of it. More importantly, God sent Christ into the very midst of creation to be ‘God with us’ and to fulfill the promise to save humankind and nature. God’s redemption makes the creation whole, the place where God’s will is being done on earth as it is in heaven.
“God’s promises are not mere pledges. They are covenants. And covenants are agreements between people and between people and God. The covenants with Noah and Abraham and the New Covenant mean that people of faith are responsible for their part in renewing and sustaining the creation.
“This statement helps us to see the degradation of the earth as sin, our sin. We, the people who have accepted the redeeming love of God, have broken the covenant to care for creation. The challenge in [this] paper is to confess our sin, to take seriously our role as stewards of the earth, and to work for the renewal of creation.”
Excerpted from 70th General Convention’s Resolution entitled Affirm Environmental Responsibility and Establish an Environmental Stewardship Team, 1991-a195. More past and pending resolutions can be found here.
“Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 70th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, affirming our responsibility for the earth in trust for this and future generations:
“Declares that Christian Stewardship of God’s created environment, in harmony with our respect for human dignity, requires response from the Church of the highest urgency;
Calls on all citizens of the world, and Episcopalians in particular, to live their lives as good stewards with responsible concern for the sustainability of the environment and with appreciation for the global interdependence of human life and the natural worlds; and
“Urges all Episcopalians to reflect on their personal and corporate habits in the use of God’s creation; to share with one another ideas for new responses; and to act as individuals, congregations, dioceses, and provinces of the Episcopal Church in ways that protect and heal all interdependent parts of creation. Such action should include prayerful theological discernment and factual knowledge. It should also consider global and local links and the balance of environmental integrity with economic sufficiency for human living; and be it further
“Resolved, That the Episcopal Church, acknowledging the sovereignty of God and God’s call to us in the servanthood of Christ, continue to engage environmental issues, passionately caring for the earth and striving to live into the promises and mandates which are ours as stewards of creation; and be it further
“Resolved, That this Convention calls upon the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies to appoint an interdisciplinary, multicultural Environmental Stewardship Team, 14 members, representing each Province and a broad spectrum of Church membership, whose gifts and expertise are suitable to the task. The mission of the Environmental Stewardship Team is to educate, motivate and facilitate congregations, dioceses and provinces toward local and regional plans, advocacy and action. The Team will work with other environmental groups of common interest …”
Because the term “Evangelical” covers a wide variety of Christian denominations and non-denominational churches, there is not one Evangelical statement, per se, on creation. Below, you will find an exemplary statement, excerpted from the EEN’s publication: An Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation.
“As followers of Jesus Christ, committed to the full authority of the Scriptures, and aware of the ways we have degraded creation, we believe that biblical faith is essential to the solution of our ecological problems.
“…We and our children face a growing crisis in the health of the creation in which we are embedded, and through which, by God’s grace, we are sustained. Yet we continue to degrade that creation. …Thus we call on all those who are committed to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to affirm the following principles of biblical faith [e.g., a transcendent, yet immanent, loving Creator God created and cares for creation; humans, created in the image of God, are called to care for creation], and to seek ways of living out these principles in our personal lives, our churches, and society. …We believe that in Christ there is hope, not only for men, women and children, but also for the rest of creation which is suffering from the consequences of human sin.”
Interdenominational (www.nrpe.org, www.webofcreation.org)
As with the Evangelical churches, it is difficult to offer a comprehensive, interdenominational statement. As an interdenominational example, here is a portion of the NRPE’s mission statement.
“With a commitment ‘to be ourselves, together,’ each of our faith groups is implementing distinctive programs on behalf of a common mission: We act in faith to cherish and protect God’s creation. Our goal is to integrate commitment to global sustainability and environmental justice permanently into all aspects of religious life.”
Excerpted from “A Social Statement on Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice,” adopted by the ELCA on August 28, 1993. The full text can be found online here.
“Christian concern for the environment is shaped by the Word of God spoken in creation, the Love of God hanging on a cross, the breath of God daily renewing the face of the Earth. We of the ELCA are deeply concerned about the environment, locally and globally . . . We know care for the Earth to be a profoundly spiritual matter . . . Humans, in service to God, have special roles on behalf of the whole of creation. Made in the image of God, we are called to care for the Earth as God cares for the Earth. God’s command to have dominion and subdue the Earth is not a license to dominate and exploit. Human dominion (Genesis 1:28, Psalm 8), a special responsibility, should reflect God’s way of ruling as a Shepherd King who takes the form of a servant (Philippines 2:7), wearing a crown of thorns. According to Genesis 2:15, our role within creation is to serve and to keep God’s garden, the Earth. ‘To serve,’ often translated ‘to till,’ invites us again to envision ourselves as servants, while ‘to keep’ invites us to care for the earth as God keeps and cares for us (Numbers 6: 24-26).”
Excerpted from the 1989, “Stewardship of the Earth, Resolution on the Environment and Faith Issues,” the Mennonite Environmental Task Force. The full text can be found here.
“…Whereas: The Bible clearly teaches that God’s creation is good (Gen. 1), that God is the Owner of the earth (Ps. 24:1-2), and that nature itself praises and glorifies God (Pss. 19 and 96); Christians have been directed by many Scriptures to care for the natural creation as God’s stewards (Gen. 1:26-28; Exod. 20:8-11; Lev. 25 and 26; and Luke 4:16-22, among others);
“Christians look forward to the time when all of creation, including humankind, will be fully restored/redeemed (Rom. 8:18-25; Col. 1:15-23; and John 1:1-5, among others); and many Mennonites who have traditionally understood their role as good earth stewards and accepted the scriptural teaching have today neglected or forgotten an environmental ethic and have not been fully aware of the impact of our lifestyle on the global environment and on our sisters and brothers worldwide who share God’s earth with us.
“Therefore be it resolved that: In our individual, work, and family life we seek to become more caring about our impact on the environment, and seek to educate ourselves and act upon our best knowledge of ways to conserve the resources we use… .”
Greek Orthodox (www.goarch.org)
Excerpted from “Message of His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios on the Day of the Protection of the Environment,” Sept. 1, 1989. The full text can be found online here. More on the Orthodox Church and environment here.
“This Ecumenical Throne of Orthodoxy, keeper and proclaimer of the centuries-long spirit of the patristic tradition, and faithful interpreter of the eucharist and liturgical experience of the Orthodox Church, watches with great anxiety the merciless trampling down and destruction of the natural environment which is caused by human beings, with extremely dangerous consequences for the very survival of the natural world created by God.
“…In view of this situation the Church of Christ cannot remain unmoved. It constitutes a fundamental dogma of her faith that the world was created by God the Father, who is confessed in the Creed to be ‘maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.’ According to the great Fathers of the Church, Man is the prince of creation, endowed with the privilege of freedom. Being partaker simultaneously of the material and the spiritual world, he was created in order to refer back creation to the Creator, in order that the world may be saved from decay and death.
“… we . . . declare the first day of September of each year . . . to be the day of the protection of the environment. … we paternally urge on the one hand all the faithful in the world to admonish themselves and their children to respect and protect the natural environment, and on the other hand all those who are entrusted with the responsibility of governing the nations to act without delay taking all necessary measures for the protection and preservation of the natural creation. …”
Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (www.pcusa.org/)
Excerpted from the 202nd General Assembly (1990) Report: “Restoring Creation for Ecology and Justice.” More information can be found here, including how to get a copy of the the full report.
“Creation cries out in this time of ecological crisis . . . Therefore, God calls the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to:
- respond to the cry of creation, human and non-human;
- engage in the effort to make the 1990s the ‘turnaround decade,’ not only for reasons of prudence or survival, but because the endangered is God’s creation; and
- draw upon all the resources of biblical faith and the Reformed tradition for empowerment and guidance in this adventure.
“The church has powerful reason for engagement in restoring God’s creation:
- God’s works in creation are too wonderful, too ancient, too beautiful, too good to be desecrated.
- Restoring creation is God’s own work in our time, in which God comes both to judge and to restore.
- The Creator-Redeemer calls faithful people to become engaged with God in keeping and healing the creation, human and non-human.
- Human life and well-being depend upon the flourishing of other life and the integrity of the life-supporting processes that God has ordained.
- The love of neighbor, particularly ‘the least’ of Christ’s brothers and sisters, requires action to stop the poisoning, the erosion, the wastefulness that are causing suffering and death.”
“Therefore, the 202nd General Assembly affirms that:
- … Earth-keeping today means insisting on sustainability – the ongoing capacity of natural and social systems to thrive together – which requires human beings to practice wise, humble, responsible stewardship, after the model of servanthood that we have in Jesus. …”
There are many Friends’ Testimonies, Queries, and Minutes that address creation awareness and care. The following was excerpted from a Friends Committee on National Legislation policy statement (1987), as cited in Friends Committee on Unity with Nature’s organizational brochure. More can be found here.
“The earth we share is limited in its capacity to support life and to provide resources for our survival. The environment that has provided sustenance for generations must be protected for generations to come. We have an obligation, therefore, to be responsible stewards of the earth, to restore its natural habitat where it has been damaged, and to maintain its vitality. Friends’ historic testimonies on simplicity have long stressed that the quality of life does not depend upon immodest consumption. The urgency of the threat to the environment cannot be overstated.”
Reformed Church in America (www.rca.org)
Excerpted from Care for the Earth: Theology and Practice, Minutes of General Synod, 1982. The full text can be downloaded in .doc format here.
“Humanity was created by God to live in ‘shalom’ (peace, wholeness, justice) with each other and all creation. … The vision of shalom is one in which all the resources of creation are shared harmoniously among all people. So while we certainly ought to be concerned about the deterioration of land, air, and water . . . our task of caring for the Earth calls us far beyond these boundaries.
“The life-sustaining resources of creation are in peril throughout the globe. The massive consumption of our affluent societies is severely straining the resources of the Earth. Because there are finite limits to these resources, over-consumption by one group inevitably means the deprivation of other people. A pattern of reckless and unjust resource consumption lies at the heart of our environmental peril.
“We can begin caring for the Earth, then, only from a posture of repentance. The restoration of God’s shalom for all of creation requires changes in our attitudes, in our values, and in our lives. If Christ’s work of redemption extends not only to us, but to all creation, then both we and the Christian fellowships to which we belong should begin to demonstrate redeemed relationships to the Earth’s resources, and a commitment that they be shared justly with all people.”
Roman Catholic (conservation.catholic.org/)
Excerpted from Pope John Paul II’s The Ecological Crisis: A Common Responsibility. The full text can be found online here.
“Respect for life and for the dignity of the human person also extends to the rest of creation, which is called to join man in praising God.”
“We cannot interfere in one area of the ecosystem without paying due attention both to the consequences of such interference in other areas and to the well-being of future generations.”
“It is manifestly unjust that a privileged few should continue to accumulate excess goods, squandering available resources, while masses of people are living in conditions of misery at the very lowest level of subsistence. Today, the dramatic threat of ecological breakdown is teaching us the extent to which greed and selfishness – both individual and collective – are contrary to the order of creation, an order which is characterized by mutual interdependence.”
“Simplicity, moderation and discipline, as well as a spirit of sacrifice, must become a part of everyday life, lest all suffer the negative consequences of the careless habits of a few.”
From “Letter from the Bishops,” in Let the Earth Bless the Lord: A Catholic Approach to the Environment.
“In following Jesus, the Church seeks to live a consistent ethic of life fully reflective of his example of an all-embracing love, particularly for those who are most in need . . . The Church recognizes that the web of life and the promotion of human dignity are linked to the protection and care of God’s creation. It is this integral approach that marks our effort as a distinctly Catholic vision of environmental responsibility.”
Unitarian Universalist (www.uua.org)
Excerpted from Principles and Purposes of the Unitarian Universalist Association. The full text can be found online here.
“We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: … Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” (This is the “Seventh Principle.”)
Excerpted from General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association [UUA], 1997 General Resolution: Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. The full text can be found online here.
“BECAUSE the seven principles of the [UUA] connect the values of democracy, personal growth, and social justice to a recognition of the interdependent web of all existence; and
WHEREAS safe air to breathe, safe water to drink, and a sustainable environment are essential for life; and
WHEREAS government support for environmental protection and energy conservation programs is inadequate;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the [UUA] urges its member congregations, affiliate organizations, and individual [Unitarians] to increase their efforts to:
1. Protect threatened and endangered species and their habitats;
2. Advocate for clean air, both indoors and outdoors, and clean water;
3. Promote the protection of public lands and water resources, and the responsible stewardship of private lands;
4. Support and practice energy and water conservation and the use of renewable sources of energy;
5. Use and advocate the use of public transportation and other environmentally sound alternatives;
6. Reduce the waste of resources in our homes, congregations, and communities by recycling, using recycled products, and reducing consumption;
7. Educate ourselves and our congregations on the need for these efforts and how best to undertake them; and
Increase government support for environmental protection and energy conservation programs.”
United Church of Christ (www.ucc.org/)
Excerpted from the UCC Network for Environmental and Economic Responsibility’s web site.
“We believe that our planetary future is radically jeopardized by economic competition and growth unrestrained by a sense of limits about our place in the whole. Our love for our children and our children’s children requires us to raise serious questions about the level and methods of production and the wasteful style of consumption in the United States and other affluent nations and people. We affirm that a responsible, global economic system must distribute goods more equally and must recycle more effectively. We look for sustainable development and transparent, participatory decision making. We affirm the use of technologies which cooperate with the non-human roots of life on earth, instead of polluting and destroying them.
“We seek to cultivate attitudes of sacred covenanting among peoples and between humanity and the non-human creation. We call upon all members and instrumentalities of the United Church of Christ to display courageous leadership in:
- modeling ecologically responsible life-styles;
- developing a communal spirituality able to connect persons creatively to the one, good creation of God; and
- advocating for economic and technological change so that our earth has a green and sustainable future of just peace for all.”
United Methodist Church (umc-gbcs.org/)
Excerpted from the current UMC Social Principle, “The Natural World.” The full text can be found online here.
“All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings. Therefore, we repent of our devastation of the physical and non-human world. Further, we recognize the responsibility of the Church toward lifestyle and systemic changes in society that will promote a more ecologically just world and a better quality of life for all creation.”