The Creation Care Blog

  • EEN's President Supports Senator Casey's Commitment to Clean Air

    November 20,2014, 16:07 PM

    A Statement by the Rev. Mitch Hescox
    President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network

    As a native Pennsylvanian I've never been prouder of one of our elected officials than I am today of our senior Senator, Bob Casey. While I'm also a life-long Republican and Sen. Casey is a Democrat, we share a common pro-life concern for children and their health, and it is that faith that propels both of us to overcome climate change.

    In Sen. Casey's statement today in support of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants he states:

    I strongly believe that we have a duty to preserve the environment not just so we can have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink, but because this world is in our care for our children and our children's children. As a person of faith, I believe we must act because of our sacred stewardship of this earth. If ever there was an issue that people of faith should support, it is this one that affects all life on our planet.

    I couldn't agree more.

    Sen. Casey's support of the EPA's Clean Power Plan is a courageous one given our state's history as a coal producer. Pittsburgh and the entire Ohio River Valley stand to benefit more than any other region in the country from the resulting clean air. That's good news for children and children's health.

    I look forward to continuing to work together with Sen. Casey in a bi-partisan fashion to support the EPA's Clean Power Plan as we find a way to ensure that the Plan treats each state fairly.

    One way our state could improve its position would be for Gov.-elect Wolf to fulfill his promise to lead Pennsylvania into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (REGGI). I hope Sen. Casey will support him as he does so.

  • Statement on Green Climate Fund

    November 14,2014, 15:10 PM

    Forging a Bi-partisan Consensus on the Green Climate Fund:
    Expressing Gratitude for the Leadership of President
    Obama and Senators Graham and Corker

    A Statement by the Rev. Mitch Hescox
    President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network

    There is a long tradition in our country of strong bi-partisan support for doing what is in our national interest and consistent with American values in the area of foreign relations. This has included helping poor countries with natural disasters, combating AIDS through President Bush's initiative, and tackling diseases like malaria.

    In today's political climate, shaped by renewed isolationism in some quarters and our present economic recovery, keeping our country on the right track in providing such leadership is challenging.

    That's why we are very grateful for the steadfast leadership provided by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bob Corker (R-TN) in their capacities as incoming Chairs of the most important Senate committees. Their job isn't easy or popular, and much of the time it's a thankless one. We offer our thanks to Senators Graham and Corker to begin to redress this "gratitude deficit."

    If foreign relations funding in general is challenging, that for helping the poor in poor countries overcome climate change and create sustainable economic progress via clean energy is even more so. But such funding, known as "climate finance," also has had a tradition of bi-partisan support precisely because it is in our national interest and in keeping with American values.

    Building upon the leadership of President George W. Bush on climate finance, President Obama is pledging that the United States will contribute $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund. Such a contribution is consistent with the percentage of support the U.S. provides for natural disasters and AIDS work in relation to the contributions of other countries.

    Just as we are grateful for the leadership of Senators Graham and Corker, so too are we thankful for the President's leadership for this proposed $3 billion in climate finance.

    We stand ready to work with President Obama and Senators Graham and Corker to once again forge a bi-partisan consensus on funding to help the poor create prosperity powered by clean, decentralized, homegrown energy and build resilience against climate impacts, just like the Patriarch Joseph did in the Bible.

  • Statement on Waters of the United States Proposed Rule

    November 14,2014, 07:13 AM

    Passed in 1972 and strengthened during the Reagan years, the Clean Water Act put America on the right track in defending our waters for supplying drinking water systems, agriculture, industry, and recreation. However, a number of court decisions and Congressional inaction have "muddied the waters" by thwarting our ability to protect what are known as "headwaters," or the beginnings of our streams and rivers, as well as many wetlands. What was once easily defined during the Reagan Administration now is a total mess of confusion, inaction, and failure.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have worked together to propose a new rule that clarifies the protection needed to ensure pure water, defend our children's health, and codify exemptions that have long applied to farmers.

    The Evangelical Environmental Network received 115,000 total comments from over 53,000 individuals that we have submitted in favor of protecting pure water. The petition read:

     "As pro-life Christians, we believe that it is essential that the water we give our children is clean and pure. We urge the EPA and Congress to do everything you can to make sure that all of our waters, especially our headwaters, are protected."

    "Water is life. By taking steps to cean up our waters we are protecting the health of children," said Rev. Mitch Hescox, President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.

  • Statement on Deal between the United States and China

    November 12,2014, 17:31 PM

    Statement of Rev. Mitch Hescox, President & CEO, Evangelical Environmental Network:

    We are thankful that the United States has reached a historic climate agreement with China. Climate change remains the greatest moral challenge of our time and this commitment to carbon reduction from the two largest polluters is "one giant leap for all mankind." We believe that when America leads, others follow. Let's build on this news by enabling a new clean energy renaissance for America, one that creates the next generation of manufacturing jobs, while keeping our air clean and waters pure for the sake of our children's health and future.

  • THE EVANGELICAL ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORK CHALLENGES PREMISE OF SCOTT-CRIST DEBATE QUESTION ABOUT FAITH & SCIENCE

    October 17,2014, 14:42 PM

    Florida Evangelicals Recognize Science of Climate Change and are Calling for Action

    The premise of Miami Herald reporter Patricia Mazzei's question about "science [being] at odds with religion" is fundamentally flawed. As evangelical Christians throughout Florida, we believe in the science of climate change and are calling for solutions for overcoming climate change, driven by our faith to defend our children and the Biblical imperative to care for what God has created. ENN believes that caring for God's creation is a matter of life.

    Witness ENN's scientific advisor, Dr. Katherine Kahoe " a Texas Tech climatologist and evangelical Christian " who was just named to the TIME 100. She defies the notion that faith and science are antithetical. Or witness me, a registered Republican minister who once worked in the coal industry, leading an organization that is committed to Creation Care.

    Witness the over 63,000 petitions signed by pro-life Christians in Florida that we recently delivered to the governor's office, calling upon him to come up with a comprehensive plan to address not only the impacts of climate change " a topic discussed in the recent debate -- but the power plant pollution that is causing it as well. Gov.Scott continues to insist that when it comes to climate change impacts on Florida he is interested in "solutions." To that end, one immediate step he can take is to offer his support for EPA's Clean Power Plan.

    Witness the many churches across the nation showing leadership when it comes to solutions to address climate change. For instance, more than 350 pastors from across Florida have made commitments through EEN's Joseph Pledge to make their churches 'energy efficient,' 'clean,' and 'healthy'for present and future generations.

    Witness the hundreds of pro-life,pro-family evangelicals in Florida who are sharing their testimonies and speaking out directly to Gov. Scott with the clear message that it's time for all of us who are reconciled unto Christ to take personal responsibility for addressing climate change to defend the health of all God's children.

    EEN believes so strongly insolving climate change that we recently launched "testimonial" radio ads across the state, calling on Gov. Scott to address this moral, pro-life issue.

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is President of The Evangelical Environmental Network.

  • Why Pro-Life Christians Are Addressing Climate Change

    October 10,2014, 08:47 AM

    by Rev. Joel Hunter, Rev. Mitch Hescox, and Alexei Laushkin

    From the formation of a child's first tiny cell to life's final breath, all life has dignity and value because each and every one of us is made in the image of God. And that is why when we talk about being "pro-life," it's not just about a political issue. It's a world view"it's a life-view. It's a way of looking at each human life that transcends culture, class, race, age and opinion.

    --- The Dignity of Life by Focus on The Family

    We believe that creation-care is a matter of life because we see a clear scriptural ethic to protect human life at all stages; from conception to natural death. This view is anchored in historic Christian teaching on the subject and it is the same ethic that motivated early Christians to take up adoption and what motivates Christians in this age to protect the unborn from abortion.  As the recent video, The Dignity of Life, by Focus on the Family puts it: "From the formation of a child's first tiny cell to life's final breath, all life has dignity and value because each and every one of us is made in the image of God."

    For us, being pro-life includes not only defending our unborn children, but also the biblical mandate to care for all life. While the threats may be different, the injunction to protect life is the same. We are called to protect this seamless garment of life.

    Toxins and other pollutants foul our water, air, and soil, impacting the purity of life God intends. Children are especially vulnerable to many of these pollutants because their small bodies are still developing. A few years ago pro-life evangelicals spoke out on the impact of mercury on the unborn. 1 in 6 children in the U.S. were born with too high levels of mercury in their blood; here's an audio briefing on why mercury is so dangerous for the unborn. Because of the efforts of pro-life evangelicals the United States is taking a leadership role in reducing the impact of mercury on the unborn. Another important issue is water. As a recent USA Today op-ed put it if you care about life pay attention to what's happening with water.

    We believe climate change to be a profound pro-life issue, and Florida is ground zero when it comes to climate change. Cities across the state are already spending millions in taxpayer dollars to install new sea level pumps, bolster sea walls, and protect from salt water intrusion. While it is good to respond to current challenges, it is even more cost effective to spend funds ahead of time to prepare for present changes in the climate, including extreme weather events. Let's upgrade Florida's water pumps and building codes today before we have to clean up a bigger mess tomorrow. Given the dollars already being spent and scale of the cost, if you care about taxpayer money and limited government you should care about climate change. We are also concerned about worsening air pollution under climate change. Duval County alone has almost 18,000 cases of pediatric asthma. That number would be dramatically lower if we were better stewards of God's world.

    When we see the present impacts our pro-life ethic kicks in. Let's empower individuals to take the lead when it comes to entrepreneurial business solutions that create a cleaner environment. We need to see climate not as an issue about politics or partisanship, but as a moral concern. God has given us all the tools to be good stewards of God's creation. It's time for Florida to come together to come up with a plan to address climate change. The church in Florida is already starting to take the lead through the Joseph Pledge. As the church starts to take on climate change more directly, it's also time for clean businesses to take the lead. The cost of solar has plummeted, yet Florida is still well behind where it could be when it comes to clean energy. We need to do what we can to transition away from expensive fossil fuels and toward cheaper and healthier technologies. These actions should include putting together a plan for Florida to play a part in achieving the Clean Power Plan and finding conservative solutions to addressing carbon pollution.

    Every concern mentioned in the video by Focus on the Family is impacted by our poor stewardship of God's creation, whose consequences are borne by our children in their bodies and the future we bequeath to them. If creation isn't stewarded well how do we expect the poor to have access to fresh food and to live free of toxins in their neighborhood? Our poor stewardship of God's world is a reflection of how seriously we take God's teaching. That's why creation-care remains integral to being pro-life. As the Focus video states, being pro-life is "not just about a political issue. It's a world view " it's a life view."

    Rev. Joel Hunter is Senior Pastor of Northland Church, A Church Distributed in Longwood, FL. Rev. Mitch Hescox is the President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network and Alexei Laushkin is the Vice-President of the Evangelical Environmental Network.


  • Life in God's World

    September 18,2014, 08:23 AM

    by staff

    I've recently been challenged about the role of lament in the life of the Christian. Lament over broken relationships. Lament over brotherly and sisterly strife. Lament over a creation the longs for God's people to be awake.

    There's a tendency in this more secular age to not name sin. I can remember a conversation I had a few years ago where there was severe brokenness in a relationship, but no language to describe the sin.

    We have gotten away from the language of sin, but not from the tendency to assign blame for relationships that break down. We just have new explanations. Whether it's because we now say we can't reconcile because that brother has a mental problem or I can't reconcile becuase I have exhausted all options when it comes to that sister, we don't really get the ministry of reconciliation. Such a ministry is based on the Lord Jesus himself who reconciles all things to Himself.

    A lot of what we see in the world today is a reflection on the internal life of people.

    That's an important starting point if we are going to address the challenges to God's people and God's creation from a biblical, scriptural point of view.

    Ultimately our hope stems from our understanding of the Risen Lord who works through all things. When the Life of the world comes and does His work through His people than His creation can be cared for and stewarded in the way God would have us do so. May we pray "Lord Jesus more of you in our life and less of ourselves." Amen.

  • Knowing What's Right in North Carolina

    August 27,2014, 12:32 PM

    By Alexei Laushkin

    The state of North Carolina has had some of the worst environmental spills of any state in 2014. State leaders can't seem to agree how to clean up what is a significant failure of stewardship. There's division in the realm of politics, division in how responsible certain industries are willing to be, and there's divison on what it even means to steward well.

    Yet, we don't find these kinds of divisions with our Lord Jesus Himself. In John 1:4 we find:

    "In him was life, and the life was the light of men"

    North Carolina has a lot of Christians who believe in Jesus. So where is that Life; the Life of Christ. Is it evident in our care of God's creation in North Carolina? As someone told me yesterday "we know what's right, we've just turned a blind eye."

    So, where is that great sleeper, the church? Where are God's people to say that we need to stop the quarelling, stop the division, and start loving our neighbor, start protecting our children, and start stewarding this land so that it too can flourish.

    This morning and yesterday Christians in and around Raleigh took some time to pray for the care of God's world and North Carolina's environmental woes. Scriptures and prayer were offered at sunrise at the North Carolina State Capitol.

    Many of North Carolina's legislators are Christians as are many of North Carolina's businessmen and businesswomen. Prayers were especially offered for them. We know what's right before the eyes of God when it comes to stewardship. Whether it's water pollution, air pollution, coal ash spills, chemical spills, where we place our toxic dumps, where we get our energy and how we address concerns around climate change, we know what we ought to be doing.

    So let's start by recommiting ourselves and our ways to Christ. Creation care is about discipleship because the life of faith needs to resemble the life of Christ in all of its ways. Amen.

    Alexei Laushkin is the Vice-President for the Evangelical Environmental Network

  • [ClimateWire] Evangelical leader says Fla.'s governor is being 'very frustrating' on climate change

    August 22,2014, 06:25 AM

    re-published with permission

    (All content is copyrighted and may not be reproduced or retransmitted without the express consent of E&E Publishing, LLC)

    Evan Lehmann, E&E reporter
    Published: Friday, August 22, 2014

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott is being pressed by more than just scientists to act on climate change. The religious Republican is also being courted by an evangelical reverend who delivered 60,000 signatures to his office last week.

    So far, it's been a challenging effort to get the governor's attention, said the Rev. Mitchell Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network. The goal of his conservative group is to reorient climate change from a political issue to a moral one. Getting the support of someone like Scott, who co-founded the evangelical Naples Community Church, would make a big impact, he said.

    "I'm a lifelong registered Republican. I'm a conservative at heart," Hescox said. "I would love to see the governor follow his faith to see this is not a political issue and draw everybody together."

    Hescox, who lives in Pennsylvania, said the petition he left with the governor's office last Wednesday was signed exclusively by Florida "pro-life Christians." It asks Scott, who expresses doubt about people's contribution to climate change, to be a leader on the issue.

    He also left a Bible at Scott's office that was signed by 70 Latino evangelical pastors who attended a religious event in Miami last week on climate change. He's been trying unsuccessfully to schedule a meeting with Scott.

    "It became very frustrating when I got a 'no' from his staff and then a 'yes' from his staff and then his general counsel emails me back saying, 'Notwithstanding other offers you may have received, the governor is too busy to meet with you,'" Hescox said.

    Scott's office didn't respond to a request for comment.

    Climate change took on greater political dimensions this week when Scott met with five scientists who asked for a meeting to discuss the impacts of warming on the Sunshine State. They made the request after Scott said that he's "not a scientist" when asked in July about his beliefs on climate change.

    Yesterday, three of the scientists repeated the presentation they gave to Scott for reporters. It reviewed carbon dioxide's effect on warming, a description of sampling ice cores for old carbon, the drivers behind sea-level rise, and the evidence for warming from human activity.

    'I'm not a scientist, either'

    Jeff Chanton, a professor of oceanography at Florida State University, showed the governor a graph with two lines representing CO2 concentrations and temperature. They follow the same up-and-down path over 800,000 years, passing through eras of glacial and non-glacial states.

    "These two things run together. There's no doubt about it," Chanton said of CO2 and temperature.

    All through that timeline, the concentration of CO2 pingponged between 180 parts per million and 280 ppm, he said. Now it's at 400 ppm, said Chanton, who had shown a graph with a line for temperature that climbed rapidly upward since the early 1800s, when the industrial era began.

    Ben Kirtman, a professor of meteorology at the University of Miami, said the scientific principles of climate change are "very robust."

    "It's solid science. We need our policymakers and our politicians to acknowledge that," he said. "When our leaders deny that it's happening, it makes it very difficult for communities to figure out how to respond because someone from the top is saying, 'Oh, don't believe in it.'"

    It's not clear what Scott believes. When asked by reporters Wednesday if the meeting changed his mind, he said, "I'm not an expert on this." Instead, he said he's focused on finding solutions like stronger beaches, cleaner drinking water and a healthier Everglades.

    That opened him up to criticism from Charlie Crist, Florida's former governor who is challenging Scott as a Democrat in this fall's gubernatorial election.

    Crist's official Twitter account yesterday publicized the governor's meeting with scientists and then asked, "why won't he listen?"

    For his part, Hescox said that a religious person can rely less on scientific studies and more on the Bible. He said it's clear that people could treat the Earth better.

    "We believe we cannot be a disciple of Jesus unless you take action to care for his creation," he said. "I'm not a scientist, either. I'm a pastor, a theologian and now the leader of a Christian nonprofit. But I have eyes to see what's going on."

  • Coverage of EEN Florida Outreach

    August 18,2014, 11:26 AM

    Here's a breakdown of some of the coverage from the last week.

    TV

    Coverage  from WCTV Tallahassee.

    Newspaper

    Coverage from The Sun Suntinel.

    Radio

    Please continue to pray for Gov. Scott. We need conservative solutions to climate change.

  • Florida's Governor Lukewarm on Creation Care

    August 07,2014, 08:10 AM

    By Rev. Mitch Hescox

    Governor Scott of Florida recently released his environmental agenda for the upcoming years. It shows progress by the Governor in at least talking about caring for God's creation. But, to paraphrase Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, it is one small step for the Governor's image, but hardly the giant leap needed to protect Floridians and God's creation. It fails to address current creation-care needs and ignores climate change and its current impacts to Floridians and the increasingly more severe threats. It's a lukewarm attempt at best.

    The Governor rightly focuses on water, but oddly enough fails to mention that climate change is a major driver for water challenges. From salt water intrusion to high precipitation events, Florida's water infrastructure needs a significant overhaul, especially as Florida continues to grow and attract new people and businesses to the state. In South Florida alone the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), which includes significant water infrastructure upgrades, will cost over $10 billion over the course of 30 years.1

    Water management is a significant stewardship issue and Floridians are already paying the cost. Miami Beach voted on measures totaling $400 million to keep water off its streets and has already identified an additional $200 million in water quality improvements.2

    Protecting Florida's water is vital as numerous wells along Florida's southern coast are already impacted from salt water intrusion as sea levels rise. If climate action isn't adopted, costs will soar to over a billion dollars and more. Florida needs a comprehensive plan to address the rising sea levels, decreased fresh water, more extreme weather, increased vector borne diseases, and higher temperatures. Just as important is a plan to mitigate carbon pollution and limit the amount of damage to homes, farms, and coasts.

    Scripture states that being lukewarm is worse than being hot or cold (Rev. 3:16). This current plans seems to move the Governor from cold into the lukewarm temperature range. That might be good enough for some, but as fellow evangelicals we understand the Bible's answer for those that are lukewarm.

    Revelation 3 also clearly states forgiveness and reconciliation for those that open the door and transform from lukewarm to hot. For several weeks, I have been knocking at the Governor's door to discuss both a plan and the opinions of 60,000 pro-life Christians who are asking for Governor to make action on climate change a priority. But Governor Scott has not opened the door to receive the comments of his constituents.

    Working with the Governor's office has been frustrating. First, after requesting a meeting with the Governor, I was sent a form letter telling me to contact my Florida legislator.

    Thank you for contacting Governor Rick Scott's office and sharing your concerns. The Governor asked that I respond on his behalf.

    Governor Scott wants to know how Floridians feel about the many critical issues we face and your input is important to him. You can influence legislation by contacting your local legislative delegation. To contact your legislators and track bills as they proceed through the legislative process, please visit www.leg.state.fl.us.

    Thank you again for taking the time to contact the Governor's office. Information about the Governor's administration and initiatives can be obtained online at www.flgov.com.

    It does make one wonder how much of the Governor's correspondence is even read. After forwarding the form email to a senior staffer, I received an apology and the promise for a meeting with Gov. Scott. Then after patiently waiting for ten days I received a new reply on Wednesday, August 6, 2014:

    Reverend Hescox,

    Your request for an appointment with Gov. Scott has been referred to this office.

    Regrettably, the Governor's schedule is filled with travel throughout Florida and matters related to governance of our State. Accordingly, not withstanding any expectation otherwise, your request cannot be fulfilled.

    Peter Antonacci
    General Counsel

    It's amazing that a request to pray with Governor Scott went to the Governor's lawyer for an answer, especially since he shares my evangelical faith and that of the 60,000 pro-life Christians who are asking him for a plan to address climate change.

    Just as in the parable Jesus told concerning the persistent widow and judge, I'm going to keep knocking on the Governor's door, keep praying, and trusting in a miracle. So next week, I plan to show up in Tallahassee at the Governor's office to deliver in person the request of those 60,000 Floridians, and spend time in the Capitol's Chapel in prayer.

    ______

    1 http://www.evergladesplan.org/docs/fs_first_5_yrs_english.pdf
    2 http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/south-florida-rising-sea-levels/

  • Testimony at Pittsburgh EPA Hearing

    July 31,2014, 13:55 PM

    Testimony of Rev. Mitch Hescox, President & CEO, Evangelical Environmental Network
    To Be Delivered Friday August 1, 2014

    "See!" he said to all the people. "This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God." Joshua 24:17

    Good Morning,

    I am the Rev. Mitchell Hescox, President/C.E.O. of the Evangelical Environmental Network, a native and resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, an evangelical pro-life Christian, and life-long registered Republican. I am here in support of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) purposed Clean Power Plan and to offer my unique perspective not only as an evangelical Christian but as someone who spent eighteen (18) years as a local church pastor, fourteen (14) years as a professional in the coal and power industries, and who is also a father and grandfather.

    Today marks the opportunity for a new day. We have a choice to make: will we as citizens of the United States of America defend the lives and health of our children and provide them the opportunity for new clean energy economy, or will we burden them not only with a national monetary debt but the even more harmful burden of an increasing climate changed world? Will we stop the special favors that the coal industry has enjoyed and allow the real cost of coal to affect our energy decisions?

    With four (4) children and five (5) grandchildren, I have a considerable interest in their future and the future for all God's children. My kids have never experienced a June below the 20th century average June temperature, and with June 2014 as the hottest June in history and marking the 352nd month above the 20th century average, my grandchildren already live in a changed world. The future is upon us, and the question remains, will we cling to a threatening past or stretch for a new future?

    There are many good people testifying today that also are concerned for their children. They fear the loss of jobs and a way of life. At the same time, we must be concerned for coal miners and power plant workers and find ways to address their fears. Circa 1900 there were similar fears as the third largest industry in terms of workers and dollars, the horse industry, faced a similar situation from the quickly developing automobile industry. But living in a country whose economy is market based means we must allow the markets to work to create new opportunities and brighter futures, and not be hindered by political roadblocks from special interests.

    For years, we have subsidized the cost of coal generated electricity in the brains, lungs, and bodies of our children and privatized the profits. Asthma, cancers, autism, birth defects, and brain damage have a direct link to the use of fossil fuels and petrochemicals. Even today, according to the American Lung Association 2014 State of the Air Report, Pittsburgh's air still flunks, and over 26,000 children live asthma-impeded lives - with climate change making smog worse. These threats to our children make caring for God's creation a matter of life and Christian discipleship.

    The proposed Clean Power Plan begins a market correction that is long overdue. Some wish us to believe that coal provides cheap electricity. But according to several studies, when you add in the cost to our health in medical bills, lost lives, property damage and the like, coal electricity is at least triple what you pay at the meter. Coals appears cheap, but each of us pays the price in our children's health, insurance premiums, fouled air, and polluted water.

    Providing pure water and clean air shouldn't be a hindrance to our economy, jobs, and future. In fact, having a fruitful creation enhances existing industries, new industries, the attractiveness of communities, and satisfied employees. If Pennsylvania, for example, takes advantage of the standard's flexibility, there will be an equal amount of employment created in the natural gas industry as lost from fuel switching.[i] More importantly, 13,000 new jobs will be created by 2020 based on Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) Act of 2004. And if Pennsylvania's implementation plan for the Clean Power Plan returns the Commonwealth to its former leadership position, renewable energy jobs in solar and wind will increase significantly.[ii]

     Job creation is vital, but defending life remains paramount, and the proposed Clean Power Plan accomplishes significant pollution reduction in both carbon and additional co-pollutants, including particulates, SO2, and NOx. According to a recent Syracuse University and Harvard medical study, Pittsburgh and the entire Ohio River Valley will benefit with the greatest improvements in air quality from EPA's Clean Power Plan.[iii] This is something to celebrate; and with cleaner air, our out of pockets expenses will decline and so will our electric bill. The Analysis Group's recent report on EPA's new standard supports EPA own analysis that electric rates might increase slightly in the short term but will decline overall.[iv]

    The Clean Power Plan is a key aspect of a needed comprehensive national effort to mitigate and prepare for climate change's threats to the United States. The Clean Power Plan makes economic sense as well. Harvard's Robert Stavins wrote recently:

    The combined U.S.-only estimates of annual climate impacts of CO2 ($3 billion) and health impacts of correlated pollutants ($45 billion) greatly exceed the estimated regulatory compliance costs of $9 billion/year, for positive net benefits amounting to $39 billion/year in 2030.[v]

    His analysis focusing on U.S. benefits states what is obvious to many of our nation's businesses. Act now before it's too late and the costs skyrocket.[vi] Delaying action simply costs more, but procrastinating also removes the great opportunity in creating a new clean energy economy. Businesses like Caterpillar, Dow Chemical, General Electric, General Motors, Procter & Gamble, Sprint, and Walmart all have climate action plans. They have a clear vision of both the costs of climate change and the vision for the future.[vii]

    All God's children deserve a future where they can breathe freely, think clearly, and pursue their dreams for a brighter America and an entire world not threatened from the food insecurity, water scarcity, foul air, extreme weather, forced migration, and sea-level rise. We can do nothing less as a nation.

    Addressing carbon pollution from the largest single polluter, the power industry, is an essential step in facing climate change's threat and embracing the opportunity of a new future. But it is one of many steps. We need a comprehensive plan to:

    • Police methane leaks from production, distribution, and transportation of natural gas;
    • Provide coordination in preparing for the climate impacts already upon us;
    • Unify research efforts to set our American creativity and ingenuity free to be the world leader in clean energy design and manufacturing;
    • Set reasonable standards and accountability for coastal development;
    • Protect American workers from those nations who fail to establish their own climate plans.
    • Focus our assistance to the majority world in terms of renewable, locally operated electricity.

    The Clean Power Plan, once promulgated, will be the most important action to date in overcoming climate change. It shows our nation's resolve in doing the right thing, the moral action. It returns The United States to the leadership position and sets the standard for a worldwide clean energy economy. This provides the signal the market needs to spur development and action. It removes the burden of cost from our children's health and begins to establish true costs for electric generation.

     The simplest and most enforceable action to reduce carbon pollution would include a carbon pollution fee. This would simplify state implementation and be the most accountable direct market mechanism to price carbon. As such, we ask the EPA to include explicit language in the final standard assuring states the option for a carbon tax/pollution fee.

    Now is the time to act. We are quickly approaching the deadline to keep God's marvelous creation below the two (2) degree Celsius maximum urged by experts and agreed to by the United States in the international climate negotiations. While some understand climate action as political, from my evangelical Christian faith it's a scriptural and moral imperative. In the opening of this testimony, I quoted a portion of a longer biblical passage. The patriarch Joshua calls the nation together and commits to a plan to follow God and work together for the betterment of all. He even states the rocks will act as witness. Creation already witnesses our changed and changing climate. Looking out your kitchen window and going for a walk it is easy to see the changes.

    Let's join together as Christians, as people of all faiths, as Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, and become Americans, Americans working together to solve the great moral challenge of our time and to begin the greatest energy and economic revolution. Then maybe our kids and grandkids will commend us for helping them reach their American Dream, instead of a nightmare.

    _____

    [i] http://csis.org/event/remaking-american-power
    [ii] http://cleanenergywins.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/CleanEnergyWins_PolicyRoadmap.pdf
    [iii] Driscoll, C.T, Buonocore, J., Reid, S., Fakhraei, H, and Lambert, K.F. 2014. Co-benefits of Carbon Standards Part 1: Air Pollution Changes under Different 111d Options for Existing Power Plants. Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY and Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. A report of the Science Policy Exchange. 34 pp.
    [iv] EPA's Clean Power Plan: States' Tools for Reducing Costs and Increasing Benefits to Consumers
    Analysis Group -Paul Hibbard, Andrea Okie, Susan Tierney, July 2014
     http://www.analysisgroup.com/uploadedFiles/Publishing/Articles/Analysis_Group_EPA_Clean_Power_Plan_Report.pdf
    [v] http://www.robertstavinsblog.org/2014/06/19/what-are-the-benefits-and-costs-of-epas-proposed-co2-regulation/
    [vi]http://riskybusiness.org/uploads/files/RiskyBusiness_Report_WEB_7_22_14.pdf
    [vii] http://www.ceres.org/resources/reports/power-forward-2.0-how-american-companies-are-setting-clean-energy-targets-and-capturing-greater-business-value

  • Gov. Scott Doesn't Open the Door (Update)

    July 24,2014, 08:44 AM

    by Rev. Mitch Hescox

    UPDATE (July 25th 2014, 3:46pm)

    Gov. Scott has agreed to meet with me in the near future. Date to be determined. Please continue to pray.

    UPDATE (July 25th 2014, 11:00am)

    This morning I heard from Gov. Scott's Director of Executive Staff, Diane Moulton. She apologized and said she would be in touch about a meeting.

    I am thankful that the Governor's staff acknowledged my emails and accept their apology. My hope and prayer remains that Governor Scott will receive me on Tuesday, July 29, and the over 60,000 comments from pro-life Florida Christians who are asking Governor Scott to take action on defending Florida's children from the current and future threats.

    We would ask all Floridians and evangelicals Christians to pray for Governor Scott and that his heart would be open to addressing the great moral challenge of carbon pollution.

    _______

    Gov. Scott doesn't answer the knock on his door from fellow evangelicals. Yesterday, I received a less than gracious reply (see below) to meet with Florida's governor on a conservative approach to addressing climate change. Recently, I sent a letter (see below) to Governor Scott through his scheduler Rebecca Wood, and also through the Governor's website. I tried reaching out to the Governor to convey the request of over 57,000 pro-life Christians who believe Florida needs a plan to address climate change.

    Climate change already impacts Floridians, and over 57,000 pro-life Christians have asked Gov. Scott to make a plan to defend our children and protect human health and well-being. Climate change is a moral issue that threatens our life, our health, and even our wallets. For us caring for God's creation and God's children is a spiritual issue and not some political football. We believe the issues transcends political parties and all Americans need to find common ground and work together for overcoming the challenges and seeking the opportunities.

    After receiving the reply, I forwarded the answer to Rebecca Wood and Diane Moulton, Director of the Governor's Executive Staff, asking if this was the Governor's response to a fellow Christian (no response).

    So, I am going to knock again. On Tuesday, July 29, I will knock on the door of Government Scott's office in Tallahassee, provide the staff our request and the thousands of Floridians asking for help. Then I will go and pray for the Governor's heart and that the door be opened for the need to defend our kids from our changing climate.

    My Original Letter

     July 16, 2014
    Governor Rick Scott
    State of Florida
    The Capitol
    400 S. Monroe St.
    Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

    Dear Governor Scott:

    You and I share two common and profound allegiances that unite us together: love of country and love of Jesus Christ.

    Our shared belief in Jesus calls us to love our neighbors, protect the vulnerable ("the least of these"), and care for God's creation. These commands are directly linked to a great moral threat to humanity, climate change.

    The Lausanne Movement, founded by Billy Graham and John Stott, states in the Cape Town Commitment:

    Probably the most serious and urgent challenge faced by the physical world now is the threat of climate change. This will disproportionately affect those in poorer countries, for it is there that climate extremes will be most severe and where there is little capability to adapt to them. World poverty and climate change need to be addressed together and with equal urgency.

    We know of your outstanding mission efforts in Africa and caring for those in need, especially children. We too share those values and are working with the Assembly of God in Malawi to adapt and mitigate the climate change's current impacts. (You can learn more from this brief video.)

    Climate change just isn't in faraway places. Florida, your home, literally represents "ground zero." Sea level rise, more extreme weather, saltwater contaminated wells, loss of farm land and increased air pollution all pose significant threats to the health and well-being of Floridians.
    This points to why for us Creation Care is a Matter of Life, human life. For we share another value, life. As committed evangelicals our understanding of Scripture calls us to protect life from conception until natural death. As Focus on The Family recently put it, "It's a world view...it's a life-view. It's a way of looking at each human life that transcends culture, class, race, age and opinion""

    Unfortunately, a few in our nation are attempting to portray addressing climate change as liberal issue. It's not "it's a moral challenge to all Americans. It is a call to follow our Risen Lord and act to prepare for the impacts, many of which are already happening, and to work to reduce our carbon pollution to help our children, now and in the future.

    While a great challenge, overcoming climate change is also a great opportunity for clean energy, new technologies, increased employment, and restoring American leadership in manufacturing and business. One of the rising stars in this clean energy economy is Florida's own Algenol.

    Preparing for climate change impacts and making plans to address the cause are not just my concerns. To date, over 50,000 pro-life Christians in Florida are asking you lead and take action on climate change. They too share the understanding that climate change is not a political football but a moral challenge and grand opportunity.

    During the week of July 28, I will be in Florida to follow-up on a very successful evangelical climate change meeting in Orlando and finish planning for a Latino evangelical gathering in Miami on creation care. At your convenience during the early part of the week, I ask to meet with you in Tallahassee to present the names of those urging you to lead on climate change, and to offer my hand in Christian friendship to work together for conservative ways to address this great moral challenge.

     In Christ,

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox
    President/C.E.O.

    Governor's Response

    Governor Rick Scott
    10:46 AM (24 hours ago)

    to me, Sunburst

    Thank you for contacting Governor Rick Scott's office and sharing your concerns. The Governor asked that I respond on his behalf.

    Governor Scott wants to know how Floridians feel about the many critical issues we face and your input is important to him. You can influence legislation by contacting your local legislative delegation. To contact your legislators and track bills as they proceed through the legislative process, please visit www.leg.state.fl.us.

    Thank you again for taking the time to contact the Governor's office. Information about the Governor's administration and initiatives can be obtained online at www.flgov.com.

    Sincerely,

    Kelly Pacchioli
    Office of Citizen Services
    Executive Office of the Governor

  • Hugs for Life

    June 04,2014, 13:40 PM

    by Rev. Mitch Hescox

    In my family we hug a lot. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but what can I say, we're huggers. My wife Clare and I especially love it when our grandkids give us hugs.

    My seven-year-old grandson runs into my arms to give me the biggest hug he can muster, and when I say, "I love you" he replies, "I love you more!" My three-year-old just jumps in my arms, plants a big wet kiss, and says, "Love you, Poppop!" The youngest, just 4 weeks old, simply looks at me when I hold and hug him.

    My grandkids and their future immediately came home to me on Monday morning as I received a hug from a friend. It just happened to be at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the friend giving me the hug was the head of the EPA, Administrator Gina McCarthy. She did so immediately after she signed the proposed standards for reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants.

    I've made no secret of the fact that Administrator McCarthy and I have a good working relationship. Our ministry at the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) has supported Administrator McCarthy and the EPA on a number of occasions. We worked hard to put the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards into effect because mercury harms the brains of our unborn and newly born children. We stood alongside EPA and others to support new fuel standards that would make cars more efficient and therefore reduce harmful air population linked in numerous medical studies to birth defects. And now, we are standing with the EPA for a proposed standard for reducing carbon pollution from the single largest source, electric power plants.

    Administrator McCarthy and I make an odd couple. I'm an evangelical pro-life Christian and have been a registered Republican my entire life. McCarthy grew up with an Irish Catholic background and is a member of President Obama's cabinet "much more progressive. She's also a Red Sox fan while I support the Orioles.

    However, what we have in common is so much greater than our differences. We love our kids and grandkids. Climate change is a serious threat to those we love and a tremendous opportunity for creating a better life for them via a clean energy economy. Following the leadership of our Risen Lord Jesus, we can work to provide an abundant life in tune with God's plan for humanity as caretakers for His world.

    As a fiscal conservative, I would prefer a market based approach to reducing carbon. It is simply egregious that we put the costs of carbon pollution in our children lungs and brains while the profits are privatized. Simply put, the market has never realized the true cost of fossil fuels. As an example, we might like our neighbors and be thankful for ways that they helped us, but none of us would be happy with the same neighbors tossing their trash into our yards and expecting us to clean it up. That's exactly what has been happening with our fossil fuel use and it's time to act before it's too late.

    Common sense and our own experience tells us it is better to act sooner to address a looming threat than to ignore it and wait until it's harder and more expensive. That's what economists tell us about climate change: act now or the costs both human and economic will escalate. With each year of delay, the costs multiply for addressing increased disease, sea-level rise, extreme weather, food scarcity, and resource conflicts.

    It would be great to have a national discussion on the best policy approaches to address climate change, and as I've said, I think a market-based approach is best. But it's hard to have a discussion when one team refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem. Now there are many reasons that Republicans don't want to discuss climate science, but I believe it's time that we start to engage and I think most conservative policy makers agree, at least privately. A few months ago, during a private meeting, a leading Republican in U.S. House of Representatives said, "We all know we have to price carbon."

    As a Republican, I am proud of my party's conservation legacy. Ronald Reagan signed the Montreal Protocol to save our ozone layer (and bought us some time in addressing climate). President George H.W. Bush revised the Clean Air Act and reduced acid rain. These basic protections did not significantly impact the economy, in fact, they produced a lot of co-benefits and spurred new industries.

    My prayer is that people I respect, like Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader McConnell might lead a new discussion on addressing our environmental challenges. Perhaps we could share a pat on the back as well. For me, hugs celebrate not only the importance of love and life but a job well done.

    We're not there yet. Addressing global warming will take all of us working together. So for the moment at least, I will keep hugging and praying for my grandkids, follow our Risen Lord, and help provide hope for a new future. Our kids, grandkids, and all God's children deserve the best from all of us.

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is President/C.E.O. of the Evangelical Environmental Network and lives in New Freedom, PA.


  • Evangelicals Support Historic Effort to Address Climate Change

    June 02,2014, 06:25 AM

    Over 130,000 Comments of Support by Pro-Life Christians Already Generated

    NEW FREEDOM, PA (June 2, 2014) - The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) applauds President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the release today of the EPA's draft rule to regulate carbon pollution from existing power plants.

    "Today's release of the EPA's draft regulation of existing power plants is a historic step in our nation's journey to overcome climate change," said the Rev. Mitch Hescox, EEN's President and CEO. "We look forward to studying the draft carefully as we offer our support and suggestions for possible improvements."

    EEN's efforts to stand with President Obama and the EPA on the need for strong action on climate change have already begun. To date, EEN's efforts have generated over 130,000 comments from pro-life Christians to the EPA in support of carbon regulations.

    "This 130,000 is simply a down-payment," said Alexei Laushkin, EEN's VP in charge of grassroots campaigns. "Now that the draft rule is out, we plan to step up our activities and generate even more support."

    A chief concern of pro-life Christians is the health impacts of the pollution from fossil fuels that is driving climate change.

    "The health and well-being of our children is already being affected," said the Rev. Emilio Marreo, VP of Esperanza, one of the nation's premier Hispanic evangelical organizations and organizer of the biennial Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC. "The impact of air pollution is a significant concern for the Latino community because Latino Americans are more likely to live in areas with high levels of air toxicity due to poverty. We can't afford not to act. We need better policies that address climate change and provide for the well-being of our communities. We are glad that these standards will help families in our community."

    The need for serious action is driven home by the fact that climate impacts are already upon us.

    "I'm a Christian, entrepreneur and meteorologist - I've been tracking the symptoms of a changing climate on my weather maps for 15 years. We've been poking at Earth's climate system with a long, sharp stick and then acting surprised when the weather bites back," said Paul Douglas, Meteorologist/Founder & CEO of Broadcast Weather in Minneapolis, MN.

    "Climate Change represents the greatest threat to life and the greatest opportunity for hope of our generation and the generations yet to come," said Rev. Hescox. "Reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants will protect children from health impacts and help lead to cleaner air and purer water. By providing states flexibility in how to reduce carbon pollution, including market-based approaches to pricing carbon, this proposal from EPA will be a major impetus for a clean energy future that creates good jobs and continues to position our country as the world's innovative business leader."

  • Podcast with Anna Jane Joyner

    May 28,2014, 11:22 AM

    Listen in as Alexei speaks with Anna Jane Joyner about her recent experiences on Showtime's "Years of Living Dangerously." We'll be discussing the episode "The Preacher's Daughter" which highlights Anna Jane's engagement with her dad, mega-church pastor and Christian leader Rick Joyner. Be sure to listen in.

    Related Podcast Resources:


  • Join Us for a May 20th Panel Discussion in Orlando

    May 13,2014, 05:43 AM

  • Dr. Katharine Hayhoe Named TIME's 100 Most Influential People

    April 24,2014, 04:45 AM

    Statement by the Rev. Mitch Hescox, President & CEO, Evangelical Environmental Network:

    We are pleased that Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, scientific advisor to the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), has been named TIME's 100 most influential people in the world. Dr. Hayhoe demonstrates that a person of strong evangelical faith can also be a world-class scientist. She understands that creation-care is truly a matter of life and speaks to churches and conservative groups across the country to demonstrate the need to take prudent steps to address climate change. Her particular scientific specialization has allowed her to help communities and organizations across the country and around the world understand how to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

    Dr. Hayhoe's efforts have led to her being targeted by climate deniers like Rush Limbaugh, resulting in a continual fuselage of opposition -- even threats to her family.

    But it is precisely her love for her children and for Jesus Christ that has Dr. Hayhoe refusing to be intimidated from speaking the truth.

    Dr. Hayhoe and her husband Dr. Andrew Farley's seminal book, A Climate For Change, has been instrumental in educating the evangelical church. Her continuing efforts to educate evangelicals are also highlighted in the current Showtime series, Years of Living Dangerously.

    TIME's recognition of Dr. Hayhoe reflects not only her achievements but also the evangelical Christian faith that guides Katharine to follow Jesus' commands "to care for the least of these." My support and appreciation for Dr. Hayhoe is summarized in her own words:

    It's not about saving the planet: the planet will be fine without us. It's about helping people, real people who are being affected by climate change today. Higher energy bills for air conditioning, freak rainstorms, and droughts wiping out their food supply -rising sea level threatening their homes and fields. It's the poor and disadvantaged who are being hardest hit: those very people the Bible tells us to care for.

    Dr. Hayhoe is a top communicator in the field of climate science and her evangelical prospective informs her views on the need to protect human life. As a climate expert, she champions doing what's right without compromising her evangelical convictions. We are proud to call her our advisor, friend, and sister in the faith.

    Here's a recent video of Katharine being interviewed by EEN's Dr. Jim Ball.

  • This Earth Day, Love the Least of These

    April 22,2014, 08:02 AM

    By Kelli Trujillo

    Being green and caring for the planet is about a lot more than caring for fish or trees or birds or rivers or dirt or air. As Christians, we care for creation as a means of loving our neighbors (Matthew 22:36-40). We believe that human life is of inestimable worth"far beyond the value of diamonds or gold or rubies or dollar bills. Because of our belief in the sanctity of life, we take seriously Scripture's call to protect the vulnerable (Isaiah 58), care for the "least of these" (Matthew 25:31-46), and do unto others as we'd want others to do unto us (Luke 6:31).

    love least these

    It's a basic biological fact: Human life is inextricably tied to the health of the created world. The harsh reality is that environmental degradation directly and negatively impacts human lives! All over the globe, people are getting sick, remaining mired in cycles of poverty, and even dying as a result of environmental degradation. Air pollution, water pollution, deforestation, climate change, and many other factors are directly hurting humans whom God created, whom God loves, and whom God has called us to love like he does.

    So as Christians we care that unborn babies are born with toxic levels of mercury in their blood as a result of the pollution caused by certain forms of energy production. And we care that other babies are born with birth defects linked directly to air pollution.

    We care about kids who live in dumps or polluted urban areas"who suffer from cancer, heart disease, asthma and worse as a result of the toxins they're exposed to daily.

    We care about impoverished subsistence farmers and fishermen who must attempt to feed their family from depleted soil, unsanitary water, and contaminated fish.

    We care that the global poor are profoundly affected by erratic weather patterns, droughts, rising water levels all linked to pollution and carbon emissions.

    I could go on and on here listing example after example of how human-caused environmental degradation directly and disproportionately harms the most vulnerable around the globe . . . but I won't. These examples suffice to make my point: Being green isn't just about the "earth""but it's also about caring for human life. I firmly believe that being pro-life is about more than just abortion; more broadly, the reiterating biblical call is to speak up for all who are vulnerable.

    I'd never want my kids to eat toxic food or drink polluted water, to starve or suffer from preventable disease! Would you? This is where God calls us to embrace Scripture's profoundly-challenging Golden Rule: To care for the global poor the same way we'd care for ourselves and our loved ones. To defend, to love, to protect.

    And this love for humankind compels us to consider the environmental implications of our lifestyle and daily choices. Though "greening" our lifestyles can seem like an overwhelming task, I believe we can make small and simple choices, then build upon them with more small choices, as we each grow as stewards. (I'm still growing! It's still a journey for me and my family, one small choice at a time!)

    Friends: God calls us to love.

    It's worth it.

    Re-posted with Permission. View the Original Post here.

    Kelli B. Trujillo writes to encourage Christian women in discovering the sacred opportunities hidden in the seemingly mundane aspects of their everyday lives. With a focus on spiritual formation, Kelli's books lead women to encounter God in ways that fit the reality of their often busy lives"as wives, as mothers, as employees, as leaders, and more. Kelli's works invite women to re-imagine what their relationship with God could be, emphasizing that faith isn't about perfection, idealism, or fitting into some cookie-cutter version of what it is to be a Christian woman. Read more of her writing by clicking here.

  • Reflections from the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast

    April 16,2014, 09:29 AM

    by Rev. Mitch Hescox

    It's rare to have the opportunity to shake the hand of the President of the United States and share a few words. In all honesty, it's something I never, ever expected to do. But it happened this week at the annual White House Easter Prayer Breakfast.

    After worship ended, the President walked to each table, greeted us all, and stopped for a photo opp. In my normal unreserved fashion, I told the President, "I'm your friendly evangelical Republican environmentalist." The President smiled. Then, referring to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Administrator Gina McCarthy, I said "Thanks for supporting Gina and her work!" The President gave one of his classic gigantic grins along with a big thumbs up.

    Many know that I have strongly supported Gina McCarthy. While there are things in which we profoundly disagree, together we work to defend our kids from environmental threats.

    At the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) we believe that Creation Care Is A Matter of Life. We worked long and hard to defend our unborn babies from the hazards of mercury pollution, and now we support Administrator McCarthy's leadership in overcoming the greatest environmental threat to all God's children, climate change.

    Some of my brothers and sisters in the evangelical community and a good number of my fellow Republicans are aghast at my support. However, God is calling us to find common ground. We are not to settle for lowest common denominator, but reach for the summit of the highest peak in protecting the most vulnerable. If the Church won't act as a bridge for political and cultural divides, who will?

    This week at the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast, the Holy Spirit brought us together. When the choir sang, I felt I heard angels, and The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, who some consider the best preacher in the country, delivered a truly inspired message.

    The spirit of unity at the Easter Prayer Breakfast reminded me of one aspect of American church life in the first half of the 19th Century. Baptist and Methodist traditions grew at an amazing pace. One reason for their tremendous popularity was the altar call. At the altar, there were no black or white, slaves or free, rich or poor, or even political parties. There were simply children of God in need of redemption and restoration.

    Like the alter call of old, it's time for our country to experience a new spirit of unity, a new day in our public discourse. It's time to bridge differences like our partisan divide and unite our nation under God to turn our challenges into opportunities. In this most Holy Week as we Christians remember Jesus' suffering on the cross, let us continue our journey from Good Friday to Easter Sunday and encounter our Risen Lord and His Love. Even today too many Christian see Easter as an empty tomb instead of an encounter with our living Savior.

    This week I experienced hope that we might come together not because of our differences, but because of God. Miracles happen. Who would have believed a coal miner's kid from a little town in western Pennsylvania would ever shake the hand of the President of the United States in the White House. May God work in all of us to follow our Risen Lord. May our encounter with the risen Jesus transform our lives, overcome the divide, and guide us over the mountain to work together.

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is President/C.E.O. of the Evangelical Environmental Network and lives in New Freedom, PA.

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