Creation Care Ministry 

Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference, United Methodist Church

What We Believe/ What We Do

 

What We Believe          Our Vision

We give thanks for the goodness of God’s creation; for its complex and interconnected richness as well as its awe-inspiring beauty.

We acknowledge that the Creator has made humankind in such a way that our well-being is tied to that of the whole created order.  

We acknowledge that as human beings, we have in many ways failed to live out our call to be good and responsible stewards of God’s creation.

 

Thus as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ and as United Methodists—

We seek to be instruments of God’s renewal of creation, a restoration of humanity and all living things to God’s intended harmony; 

We embrace the inseparable link between love of God, love of neighbor as ourselves, and the flourishing of all creation; 

We affirm the mission of our denomination “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” and undertake the work of creation care and related justice issues as a crucial aspect of our discipleship, in light of the mission of the church.

 

What We Do                   Our Mission

 

As a conference ministry of the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference of The United Methodist Church, we serve as a catalyst for care of God’s creation and commitment to its related justice work, which includes environmental justice, climate justice, creation justice and racial justice.* 

By equipping and empowering local churches and groups and individuals within them with resources and support for this work;

By connecting local churches and groups and individuals within them to the ideas, best practices, resource development, and inspiration of others as we learn from one another and multiply our impact through collaborative action and witness. 

To accomplish this we:  

  • Offer to meet with local churches and church groups to listen and learn of their work, their needs and their questions
  • Provide educational opportunities for laity and clergy at the local church, District, and Conference levels, teaching:
    • The scriptural/theological foundations for creation care as an aspect of discipleship.
    • The harm that is being done to creation and vulnerable populations.
    • Ways to protect creation and vulnerable people at the personal, institutional, and governmental levels.
  • Encourage local churches to integrate creation care and creation justice into all aspects of church life, including: worship, educational programming at all age  levels, fellowship gatherings, purchasing practices, energy use, care of grounds, etc.
  • Promote a lifestyle mindful of consumption amid a culture that encourages over consumption and waste.  ( Book of Resolutions #1033)
  • Foster a greater awareness in clergy education of the global ecological crisis and develop avenues and resources at the conference level to support clergy in their addressing creation care and justice in the local church and their local communities.  
  • Encourage the formation of Creation Care Ministries in local churches, foster networking between them, and support them in their work. 
  • Provide programming and other avenues of communication to share creation care resources, including sharing success stories and best practices being done throughout the Conference and beyond, so that we might all learn from each other.
  • Give special attention to the connection between care for creation and love of neighbor by working with vulnerable groups affected by degradation of the environment, natural disasters, and the transition away from fossil- fuel related industries.
  • Give special attention also to engaging our children, youth, and young adults in experiencing the wonder of God’s creation, and to work with them and for them in addressing the global ecological crisis and sustaining hope for their future.
  • Promote District and Conference-wide creation care and related justice work that combine opportunities for hands-on action, education, and witness to the larger church and secular communities.  
  • Work with other United Methodist entities to promote creation care and related justice work, including boards and agencies of The United Methodist Church, Conference Camping and Retreat Ministries, Wesley Foundations, United Methodist Women and others such as, but not limited to, the EarthKeepers Ministry of the Board of Global Ministries and United Methodist Creation Justice Movement.
  • Develop avenues for people of our conference to join with people of other faith traditions in caring for creation and promoting justice.
  • Facilitate connections between local churches and individuals of the conference with policy makers at all levels of government in shaping public policies that are in harmony with creation care and justice.  
  • Work in conjunction with other United Methodists globally in advocating for public policies and other action aimed at halting and reversing climate change, including policies geared toward steep reduction in climate-disrupting greenhouse gas emissions.

_________________________________________________________________

*Footnote:

“Related Justice Work”Our ministry currently accepts the meaning of the following terms to describe the justice work to which we are committing ourselves:

Creation Justice – “Creation justice” may be a new term for some, but it is a concept deeply grounded in Christian theology and practice. It captures both the depth of our interconnectedness with everything and the necessity to partner with God in the healing and restoration of all—God’s Shalom….Using the term “creation” instead of “eco”, “nature” or “environment” demonstrates that we are intimately part of the created order, and constantly working alongside our Creator to redeem and sustain it. When we say Creation, we mean all Creation—justice for God’s people and God’s planet. Seeing the world as Creation is a radical act that counters modern notions of nature as either a resource to be exploited or as something entirely separate from humanity.

Bigelow, K. and Lamb, A. (2021, September 1). What is Creation Justice?. Creation Justice Ministries. https://www.creationjustice.org/blog/what-is-creation-justice8447419?eType=EmailBlastContent&264e7abb14e6eId=3c7b1de7-7607-4c2f-91f8- 

Climate Justice  Climate justice” is a term, and more than that a movement, that acknowledges climate change can have differing social, economic, public health, and other adverse impacts on underprivileged populations. Advocates for climate justice are striving to have these inequities addressed head-on through long-term mitigation and adaptation strategies.  

Simmons, D. (2020, July 9). What is ‘climate justice’?. Yale Climate Connections.https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/07/what-is-climate-justice

Environmental Justice Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. This goal will be achieved when everyone enjoys:

  • The same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and
  • Equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2021, September 8). Environmental Justice. https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice 

Racial Justice – Racial justice is the systematic fair treatment of people of all races that results in equitable opportunities and outcomes for everyone. All people are able to achieve their full potential in life, regardless of race, ethnicity or the community in which they live….A “racial justice” framework can move us from a reactive posture to a more powerful, proactive and even preventive approach.

Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2021, April 14, last updated). Equity vs. Equality and Other Racial Justice Definitions. https://www.aecf.org/blog/racial-justice-definitions  

 

Scriptural and Theological Foundations based on our previous Annual Conference Resolutions on Creation Care

Scriptural and Theological Foundations

We give thanks for the goodness of God’s creation; for its complex and interconnected richness as well as its awe-inspiring beauty. 

Scripture proclaims the goodness of creation (Genesis 1); that “the earth is the LORD’s and the fullness there of” (Psalm 24);  and that God cares for all creatures (Psalm 124).    

 “God so loved the world [literally, ‘the cosmos’] that God gave God’s only begotten Son…” (John 3:16) reminds us that God’s love extends beyond the human to be inclusive of all creation.    

Jesus affirmed the goodness of creation by becoming flesh among us (John 1), and Jesus witnessed to that same goodness by taking bread (grain from the fields) and wine (the fruit of the vine), saying, “This is my body” and “This is my blood” (Mark 14).  Jesus further proclaimed the glory of creation by pointing to the lilies of the field (Matthew 6) and his heavenly parent’s care for it by noting that not one sparrow is “forgotten in God’s sight” (Luke  12).  

Creation not only sustains physical life but also, through its awe-inspiring beauty and wonder, connects us more closely to the Creator. 

 

We acknowledge that the Creator has made humankind in such a way that our well-being is tied to that of the whole created order.  

Scripture states that humankind, being formed in the image of God, has been given the profound responsibility as stewards to care for creation (Genesis 1- 2).  

Jesus affirmed that the two greatest commandments are to “Love the Lord your God . . . and your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22), making it clear that care for creation is an essential part of loving God and  loving neighbor. 

The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church state that: “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;” (Paragraph 160, The Natural World, The Social Principles in The United Methodist Book of Discipline, 2016) 

 

We acknowledge that as human beings, we have in many ways failed to live out our call to be good and responsible stewards of God’s creation.  

We are witnessing the environmental and societal impact of failing to care for the whole of creation and the over consumption of Earth’s resources.  

The scientific community has given clear warning that creation is under tremendous strain due to the  poisoning of air, water, and land; habitat destruction; the unsustainable consumption of Earth’s finite resources; and the rapidly accelerating extinction of species. 

Scientists have especially sounded the alarm of catastrophic harm to creation if global warming and climate change are not halted and reversed. Rising temperatures have already intensified wildfires, hurricanes, drought,  flooding, and sea-level rise throughout the world, with devastating results. 

People who live on the margins of social, economic, and political power, in this country and throughout the world, are harmed first and deeply by the degradation of creation and have the fewest resources to recover from that harm. Therefore, care for creation is clearly a matter of justice.

In order to be good stewards and to “tend and keep” Earth (Genesis 2:15), we need to urgently address the over-consumption of Earth’s resources and the cataclysmic results of increasing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. 

Ezekiel’s admonishment of the people of God continues to speak clearly to us today as the prophet voiced God’s question, “Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you trample the rest… Is it not enough for you to drink  clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?” (Ezekiel 34:17-18)

 

Thus, as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ and as United Methodists— 

We seek to be instruments of God’s renewal of creation, a restoration of humanity and all living things to God’s intended harmony;  

We embrace the inseparable link between love of God, love of neighbor as ourselves and the flourishing of all creation; 

We affirm the mission of our denomination “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” and undertake the work of creation care and related justice issues as a crucial  aspect of our discipleship, in light of the mission of the church. 

[L]et us recognize the responsibility of the church and its members to support a more ecologically equitable and sustainable world leading to a higher quality of life for all of God’s creation.  (The United Methodist  Book of Discipline 2016, United Methodist Social Principles, Paragraph 160: The Natural World) 

“I hope that creation care will be embraced as a part of our church’s evangelism efforts. Creation care is good news for people and good news for all life on the planet.  A sustainable revival of churches is dependent on creation care.”  

(Rev. Dr. Mark Y.A. Davis,  Chair of the Board of Church and Society  2015– 2018; quote retrieved from UM Creation Justice.org, September 12, 2021)

 

A Resolution on Caring for Creation of the Memphis Annual Conference 2015

Whereas, God created the human being from the “dust of the ground” and set him/her in the garden to “tend it and keep it.” (Gen 2:7, 15); 

Whereas, “God so loved the world (literally, “the cosmos”) that he gave his only begotten…” reminds us that God’s love extends beyond the human to be inclusive of all creation; 

Whereas, the Social Principles affirm that “all creation is the Lord’s, and we are  responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it.” (Para.160, 2004 Book of Discipline);  

Whereas, we,as United Methodists, take seriously God’s mandate to “love our neighbors as ourselves” and to practice justice for all people; 

Whereas, the societal impact for failing to care for the whole of creation and the over consumption of the earth’s resources already falls, and will continue to fall, most heavily on the people around the globe who are least able to mitigate the impact — poor and vulnerable populations in the U.S. and developing countries; 

Whereas, in order to be good stewards and to “tend and keep” the earth, we need to  take seriously the over-consumption of the earth’s resources and the potentially cataclysmic results of increasing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere; 

And Whereas, Ezekiel’s admonishment of the people of God is as appropriate to us  today as it was in Biblical days , when he asked “Is it not enough for you to feed  on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest … It is not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?” (Ez 34:17-18) 

Therefore, Be It Resolved that the Memphis Conference of the United Methodist  Church establish a “Creation Care Team,” with a chairperson appointed by the Bishop and amenable to the Outreach Committee or its equivalent, and authorize this Creation Care Team to communicate with the local churches and agencies of our annual conference regarding the many ways we can care for the gift of creation. 

And also, Be It Resolved that each agency, district, the Cabinet and Disciplinary Committee, making a report to the annual conference, include in the written,  if not oral, report, over the remainder of this quadrennium, how it has responded to the call to care for creation. 

Respectfully submitted, 

The Reverend Gary D. Lawson, Sr.

2020 Annual Conference Resolution of the Tennessee Annual Conference  

Title: A Call to Care for God’s Good Creation 

#1. Whereas, Scripture proclaims the goodness of creation (Genesis 1); that “the earth is the LORD’s” (Psalm 24);  and that God cares for all creatures (Psalm 124); and  

#2. Whereas, Scripture also states that humankind, being formed in the image of God, has been given the profound  responsibility to care for creation (Genesis 1 and 2); and 

#3. Whereas, Jesus affirmed the goodness of creation by becoming flesh (John 1). And he witnessed to that same  goodness by taking bread (grain from the fields) and wine (the fruit of the vine), saying, “this is my body” and “this  is my blood” (Mark 14). And he further proclaimed the glory of creation by pointing to the lilies of the field  (Matthew 6) and his heavenly parent’s care for it by noting that not one sparrow is “forgotten in God’s sight” (Luke  12); and 

#4. Whereas, Jesus also affirmed that the two greatest commandments are to “love the Lord your God . . . and your  neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22). And it being clear that care for creation is an essential part of loving God and  neighbor; and 

#5. Whereas, creation not only sustains physical life but also, through its awe-inspiring beauty and wonder,  connects us more closely to the Creator; and 

#6. Whereas, the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church state that: “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;” and 

#7. Whereas, God has woven all of creation together in an intricately-patterned tapestry of life and therefore the  wellbeing of humanity is connected to that of all other living things; and 

#8. Whereas, the scientific community has given clear warning that creation is under tremendous strain due to the  poisoning of air, water, and land; habitat destruction; the unsustainable consumption of earth’s finite resources; and  the rapidly accelerating extinction of species; and 

#9. Whereas, scientists have especially sounded the alarm of catastrophic harm to creation if global warming and  associated climate change are not halted and reversed. And noting that rising temperatures have already intensified  wildfires, hurricanes, drought, and sea-level rise throughout the world, with devastating impacts; and 

#10. Whereas, it is the poor, persons of color, and indigenous people in this country and throughout the world who  are harmed first and most by the degradation of creation. And in the light of the fact that because these same groups  have the fewest resources to recover from that harm, care for creation is clearly a matter of justice: 

#1. Therefore, be it resolved by the 2020 Tennessee Annual Conference that: the Tennessee Annual Conference  affirms the work of the Conference Creation Care Ministry (Stewards of God’s Earth) in advocating for creation 

care and environmental justice and will support its continuance in some form in the new Tennessee-Western  Kentucky Conference; be it further  

#2. Resolved that: every local church in the Tennessee Conference is encouraged to incorporate care for creation  and environmental justice into all aspects of church life, including: worship, educational programming at all age  levels, fellowship gatherings, purchasing practices, energy use, care of grounds, etc.; be it further 

#3. Resolved that: given that harm to creation is systemic and that its healing must be systemic as well, local  churches and individuals are encouraged to engage in shaping public policies at all levels of government that are in  harmony with creation care and environmental justice; be it further 

#4. Resolved that: given the special urgency of addressing climate change and its devastating impacts throughout  the earth, that the Tennessee Conference Creation Care Ministry (Stewards of God’s Earth) work in conjunction  with other United Methodists globally in advocating for public policies and other action aimed at halting and  reversing climate change, including policies geared toward steep reduction in climate-disrupting greenhouse gas  emissions. 

Submitted by: Rev. Paul Slentz on behalf of the Creation Care Ministry (Stewards of God’s Earth) of the  Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church 

March 23, 2020

What We Can Offer You:

We extend the invitation to have one or more of our leadership team visit your church or group (in person or via zoom) in order to make presentations to Sunday School classes, UMW or UMM groups, Wednesday night programs, Board of Trustees, etc. 

We offer resources that can equip you and your congregation, or groups within it, with a deeper understanding of creation care and related justice topics.  We also offer you scriptural and theological foundation resources for this discipleship ministry.  

 We offer to assist you in connecting with other ministries to learn more of their work, with people of faith who are actively involved in advocacy work, with other individuals in specific focus work areas, with other churches dealing with similar questions, and/ or with other churches who are forming creation care ministries in your area and throughout the conference.

Development of Regional Clusters and Focus Groups

(Work in Progress)

Our Leadership Team

Our Funding...

Our Funding sources consist of donations from individuals and local churches.  We do not receive apportionment funding.