Aug 2 2009

The Greening of the Church

IndianapolisThe picture to the right probably doesn’t look much like a nature photo, even though there is green grass, trees, blue skies and beautiful clouds.  Actually, it is a picture I took a couple of days ago from my hotel room in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I have spent the past five days in Indianapolis attending the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). 

You may be wondering why I am writing about this on a site called “Seeing Creation.”  There is a reason.  In Indianapolis I discovered just how committed the Disciples of Christ are to promoting environmental stewardship.  Every Assembly service drew our attention to the beauty and wonder of God’s Creation and to our need to care for it.  Songs were sung celebrating Creation, children’s sermons were presented helping kids better understand our calling to care for the earth, and a resolution was passed calling our churches to respond proactively to climate change.  The Assembly also made several efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of this gathering of some 6,000 people.

One of the workshops offered at the Assembly was called “It Isn’t Easy Being Green.”  The featured speaker was Dr. Matthew Sleeth, author of Serve God Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action.  (I encourage you to check out his website at   Dr. Sleeth says “It is right to change our behavior and to start caring for God’s creation.  It is wrong to continue destroying that which belongs to God and to future generations.”  He emphasized the need for the church to do more to care for the earth.

Unfortunately, there have been many over the years who have pointed an accusing finger at Christianity, claiming that we are much to blame for the environmental crisis.  There is no denying that the church has been slow to get involved in “creation care” but there has always been a recognition among some that we have a divine obligation to be good stewards of the earth and that “having dominion over the earth” involves caring for Creation, not destroying it. 

Thankfully, more and more Christians are beginning to realize that the environmental crisis is a moral and spiritual crisis too.  I am grateful to be a part of a denomination that is striving to make a difference and am praying that the “greening of the church” will come sooner rather than later.