Bound by a sacred responsibility to care for God’s earth and to preserve it for the next generation, Creation Care and stewardship ministries are gaining popularity worldwide. You may have heard of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology and animals, and might even have a statue of his likeness in your garden. He was said to have a great love of animals and the environment, and is credited for connecting caring for the poor with caring for creation, making him the father of eco-justice. But did you know that people of faith around the world of all spiritual backgrounds are answering the call to protect the earth, and faith-based statements on climate change can be found across the spectrum of religious practices?
When I’m in nature I feel closest to God, and it seems to be a universal experience when witnessing a spectacular sunset at the beach, or a mountain vista that stretches for miles, to feel the breathtaking wonder and peace that can only be described as divine. Where my faith and love of nature intersected, I found Creation Care. A ministry of the United Methodist Church where I could join together with people of faith and celebrate our love of God’s earth, we get our hands dirty while planting seeds with kids in the garden, march for eco-justice, set sustainability goals for our congregation, organize lake cleanups, and talk to our elected leaders about making choices that will protect our children’s future.
We also pray for “the least of these” who suffer the most from environmental degradation and climate change, like the victims of hurricanes left without clean water or power, the poor living near polluted Superfund sites, the islanders who are losing their land to sea level rise, and the farmers who can’t feed their families or make a living because of extreme drought.
Our Creation Care ministry has been a blessing to our church by engaging our members of all ages, from toddlers to grandparents, in growing food for those in need in our church garden. We also celebrate God’s creation with fun events like the Ladybug Party in the Garden where children released 10,000 ladybugs while learning how these beneficial bugs help our garden thrive without pesticides. We have engaged our congregation with earth-friendly practices, while attracting new members who value sustainable living.
Many houses of worship in Tallahassee are already taking part in being good stewards of the earth, and others may be interested in learning more about how to start. All are invited to attend the next ReThink Energy Lunch & Learn on Wednesday, November 15 from 12-1 pm at the Leon County Library, BL Perry Branch, located at 2817 S. Adams Street, where we will discuss how the faith community is becoming a strong voice for environmental action, and to share ideas with other faith leaders on how to transform our houses of worship into green sanctuaries.
We welcome the community to take part in this dialog on how we can live out our faith values through environmental activism. The talk will include how to start a stewardship group, provide an opportunity to share success stories, and act as a networking session for local stewardship leaders.
Cara Fleischer is a Creation Care leader at Saint Paul's United Methodist Church, a Climate Reality Leader, a Mom's Clean Air Force SuperMom, and an active member of Tallahassee Citizens' Climate Lobby. Join her Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mommafly/.