The Green Covenant Project
The Bible is the story of humanity’s relationship with God and with God’s creation. In Genesis, God looked upon all that he had made -animals, humans, and plants- and declared it very good (Genesis 1:31). Each part is good, but the whole of God’s creation was whole and perfect. It was so perfect, in fact, that the Bible refers to the place where humans lived as a garden. We were directed to care (shamar) for the garden, but our first sin was to mar the garden -to consume beyond the boundaries we were given. The rest of the Bible chronicles our journey to be reunited in God’s peace and to be made whole with God. God did not give us dominion to control all living things. As we are in God’s image, we reflect His presence on earth and therefore are examples of His stewardship of creation.
The Bible shows us how to grow into God’s image and into wholeness with God. Noah understood this. When God called him to care for Creation, he obeyed. He gave sanctuary to two of each thing to ensure that life and wholeness would continue. We tell the story to our children because it shows us in the right relationship with God and because our response to His call of shamar is part of that right relationship. We have a role to play in the wholeness of God’s blessing.
The Bible tells us that God dwelt among us as the Word made flesh, as Jesus, that we might learn to live a life pleasing to Him. Living into a calling to care for creation changes us in a way that is pleasing to God.
Christ’s redemption covers all creation, not just humans. Jesus, “the Son of Man who has authority on earth to forgive sins”, not only forgives our transgressions but heals the earth-damaging work of Adam. It is no coincidence that when Jesus rose after his death, he appeared to the women as a gardener.
We have another life through Jesus, but the earth we have right now still matters. As Christians, our ultimate purpose is to honor God, and part of honoring God is recognizing the wonderful gift of creation and the responsibility we have to care for it. The earth belongs to God and everything in it and we have no right to harm it. We must make ourselves consciously aware of what is happening to God’s creation. We must appreciate, respect, and value the earth and everything in it. And we must be stewards of creation: serving, keeping, and restoring all that God has entrusted us to care for.
What Can We Do?
Educate yourself on what is available!
- Start a compost heap
- Run your dishwasher less
- Consider clean, renewable energy sources such as solar panels
- Purchase reusable bags
- Build a birdhouse
- Take action online:
- Check out UMC Social Principles: The Natural World
- Look at becoming a Global Ministry Earthkeeper
- Pack your lunch with reusable baggies/containers
- Do not use fertilizers or chemicals on your lawn
- Pack reusable silverware
- Pickle vegetables to extend their life and reduce waste
- Use products that last longer or come in less packaging
- Buy bar soaps
- Donate your electronics to organizations like United Electronics Recycling
- Recycle your clothing with organizations like Simple Recycling and World Wear Project, or donate to organizations like Goodwill
- Freeze your food
Make a plan for your household!
Use apps to track and encourage recycling: iRecycle and RecycleNation
Develop a plan with your small group!
- Bring your own coffee mug to church
- Use reusable dishes at Sunday school and small/large group activities
- Pick up litter from local streams, neighborhood parks, or wherever you see it
- Recycle at school or workplace
- Start a Bible study or small group to study the calling to care for creation
- Pack snacks in reusable silicone bags
- Grow trees and vegetables in your own garden
- Turn off lights and electronics when not in use
- Park when you go to fast food places
- Bring a reusable water bottle to school and sports practices
- Drive less! Carpool with friends or transit system when possible
- Take shorter showers
- If you can’t vote yet, join protests
- Unplug devices
- Eat less meat
- Be thrifty in clothes shopping
- Buy local, in-season food
- Receive bills, newspapers, and mail electronically, if possible
- Use CFL or LED lights
- Eat less meat
Please see the UMC Social Principles: The Natural World for more information of the stance of the United Methodist Church.
The following are resources for independent study and small group lessons, compiled by the United Methodist Church. See this link for resources for creation care.
THEOLOGY AND ECOLOGY
- “Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality Presented in Four Paths, Twenty-Six Themes, and Two Questions.” by: Matthew Fox
- “Super, Natural Christians: How We Should Love Nature.” by: Sally McFague
- “Gaia and God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing.” by Rosemary Radford Reuther
- “Life Abundant: Rethinking Theology and Economy for a Planet in Peril.” By Sally McFague
- “Women Healing Earth: Third World Women on Ecology, Feminism, and Religion.” By Rosemary Radford Reuther
- “The Body of God: An Ecological Theology.” By Sally McFague
- “For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care.” By Steven Bouma-Prediger
- “God Is Green: Ecology for Christians.” By Ian Bradley
- “To Heal the Earth: A Theology of Ecology.” By Frederick Quinn
- “Nature in Grace: A Study in the Theology of Nature.” By Claude Y. Stewart, Jr.
- “Stepping Lightly: Simplicity for People and the Planet.” By Mark. A. Burch
- “The New Creation: John Wesley’s Theology Today.” By Theodore Runyon
- “The Earth Story in Genesis. (The Earth Bible, Vol. 2).” By Norman C. Habel and Shirley Wurst
- “The Land Is Mine: Six Biblical Land Ideologies.” By Norman C. Habel
- “God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation.” By Terence Fretheim
- “The Lorax.” By Dr. Seuss
- “Dear Children of the Earth” By. Schim Shimmel
- “Old Turtle.” By Douglas Wood and Cheng-Khee Chee
- “Old Turtle and the Broken Truth.” By Douglas Wood and Jon J Muth
- “The Beautiful World that God Made.” By Rhonda Gowler Greene and Anne Wilson
- “A Prayer for the Earth: The Story of Naamah, Noah’s Wife.” By Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
- “Caring for God’s Earth: Becoming the People of God.” By J. Richard Peck (Cokesbury)
- “Green Guidance: How to Plan Environmentally Responsible Events.” By Women’s Division UMC
- “Greening Congregations Handbook.” By Tanya Marcovna Barnett. Earth Ministry
- Discussion Course on Choices for Sustainable Living. Northwest Earth Institute (www.nwei.org)
- Caring for All Creation in the Home. Earth Ministry
- Caring for All Creation on the Road. Earth Ministry
- Caring for All Creation at the Table. Earth Ministry
- Earth’s Echo: Sacred Encounters with Nature. Robert M. Hamma
- “Earth and All the Stars: Reconnecting With Nature Through Hymns, Stories, and Poems”
- “Prayers from the World’s Great Religions and Cultures.” By Anne W. Rowthorn
NATIVE AMERICAN CREATION-CENTERED SPIRITUALITY
- “All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life.” By Winona LaDuke
- “Mother Earth Spirituality: Native American Paths to Healing Ourselves and Our World.” By Ed McGaa, Eagle Man, illustrated by Marie N. Buchfink
- “Silent Spring.” By Rachel Carson
- “A Sand County Almanac: With Essays on Conservation from Round River.” By Aldo Leopold