A Faith Encompassing All Creation

There is a great awakening taking place in the church today.   Christians around the world are recognizing two inter-connected truths: (1) we are in the midst of an enormous ecological crisis that calls for individual and collective action; (2) the Bible and Christian theology have a great deal to say about the value of all creation and the importance of safeguarding its health.

For 25-year-old William Morris, the awakening happened at a congregational meeting.   One of the presenters that day spoke of “environmental missions.”  And a light went on for Morris.  It was the first time he had heard a Christian explicitly link his faith with ecological concern.  Morris had grown up in a conservative baptist church that taught how climate change – like evolution – was something made up, and not to be taken seriously.  This never made sense to Morris.  He was a committed Christian but also loved scientific study and experimentation.   When Morris heard “environmental missions,” science no longer sounded like something disconnected from the church’s teaching.  He went up to the speaker after the presentation to find out more.   Soon, Morris was volunteering in Africa with a Christian conservation organization, assisting Kenyan Christians in protecting their mangrove forests, rare bird species, and coral reefs.

After reading Morris’s story, I wondered: when did I first see the connection between faith and creation care?  Was it standing out on the cliffs of the Scripps Coastal Reserve and biodiversity trail loop of my hometown?   Was it encountering the work of Ched Myers on sabbath economics and watershed discipleship?  Was it retreats out in the Sonoran Desert observing the rugged beauty of a creosote bush?  Did I hear Jesus’ call to “consider the lilies of the field,” or the words of Psalm 24, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” – and sense the call to environmental justice?  Or was it just recognizing the obvious – that “loving my neighbor” meant caring for the habitat on which that neighbor depends?  I am not sure when the light went on for me.  But Christian discipleship and ecological concern got intertwined.

For many younger Christians, the connection between faith and sustainability has long seemed a no-brainer.  So young people have proven key leaders in the Christian environmental movement.  Our congregation’s sustainability team was spearheaded by two high school students – James Curtiss and Isaiah Givens.   Under their leadership, Knox will be highlighting ecological justice for the months of April and May.  We will have an outdoor worship on Sunday, April 25th, commemorating Earth Day.  There will be a sustainability scavenger hunt as well as a Knox gardening day.  And Claire Marie-Peterson and I will be co-leading a series of workshops each Wednesday night on faith and environmental practices.  We’ll be looking together at the book A Faith Encompassing All Creation: Addressing Commonly Asked Questions About Christian Care for the Environment.

 Our faith professes God not only created the earth but sent Christ into the world to redeem it.  In response to that great love of God, may we work for the health and sustainability of a precious gift – the earth, and all who dwell therein.

Pastor Matt