Commentary: Is Creation Care right for your church?
Creation Care Leader Cara Fleischer (left) helps her niece, Karen Ann Sizer, release a ladybug into the garden, along with her mother, Fran Webb.
Quiz: Are there people at your church who love God and love their neighbors?
That’s it. That’s the quiz. I’m guessing the answer is a resounding YES.
If you love God and what he has created, the Creation Care ministry’s focus on loving God’s earth, animals, and people may resonate with you. Being good stewards of creation helps us fulfill the biblical call to love our neighbors–the ones who live near us, across the country, around the world, and even future generations–by preserving our shared planet.
Creation Care ministry is based on Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 22: 37-39 NIV: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself."
People often feel closest to God in nature. From the awe of a glorious sunset across sparkling blue water, to seeing a grand live oak tree with branches reaching into the sky, we breathe a prayer of thanksgiving for such beautiful sights.
Some of our Florida favorite pastimes are spent on the water or in the woods – paddling, swimming, fishing, hiking, hunting, and camping. God’s handiwork is on full display in the ecosystems that are intricately woven together in the web of life across our state.
Transcending politics, all Floridians want a clean and healthy state to live, play, and raise their families.
Our natural environment in Florida is indeed a miracle, and one that we’ve too often taken for granted. Floridians see firsthand the repercussions when the impacts of human development overtake what nature can handle.
From more prevalent incidents of toxic green algae and red tide that poison our marine life and plague our waterways and beaches; to animals close to extinction due to the over-development of natural lands from urban sprawl; to deadly hurricanes and the extreme heat made more intense from a warming planet; Florida needs our help.
With God’s love guiding us in Creation Care ministry, we can come together and act for positive change. We just celebrated the 7-year anniversary of the Creation Care ministry at Saint Paul’s UMC in Tallahassee, and it has been embraced by our congregation in ways we never imagined.
What started as a humble vegetable garden to help feed those with food insecurity in our community has grown to be a vibrant ministry that attracts people to join our church, bringing them closer to Jesus. Our lake clean-ups, youth group hikes, Creation Care Sunday services, book studies, energy efficiency upgrades, green events, recycling, and composting programs, and Creation Care-themed Vacation Bible School have educated and inspired people of all ages to enjoy nature and live more sustainability.
April is Earth Month and a great time to start! The first step is identifying someone at your church who loves nature and telling them about our FLUMC Creation Care Task Team, designed to support and equip the local church in the Creation Care ministry. See below for a list of upcoming events as a great way to begin.
The United Methodist Creation Justice Movement also provides monthly tips at www.umcreationjustice.org, and our team follows the latest national news, including the upcoming federal funds to assist churches with solar energy and efficiency upgrades. (Now is the perfect time to get an energy audit so you are ready when funding is available.)
The mission of the FLUMC Creation Care Task Team is “to equip the local church with encouragement, training, and tools to support a thriving Creation Care ministry,” and we have representatives in each district to support you.
Perhaps the most important thing we can do is to pray. Pray for God to heal His creation, touch the hearts of our leaders, and give each of us hope. Because if God is for us, who could stand against us?
May this Earth Month fill you with renewed hope and love for creation so you can experience the joy that comes with embracing this vibrant ministry. I’d love to hear what your church is doing with Creation Care and welcome your emails at Cares4Creation@gmail.com.
FLUMC Creation Care Upcoming Events
April 25, Noon: Eat, Pray, Grow Creation Care monthly webinar on Zoom and Facebook Live with special speaker John Hill from UMC Church & Society to update us on national legislation and the IRA. (Email Earthsteward@harmonyhq.com for the Zoom link and see our recordings at www.facebook.com/FLUMCCreationCare/.)
April 29, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: North Central District Creation Care Workshop at Celebration UMC, Gainesville. https://www.flumc.org/eventdetail/17325234
May 30 from 1:30-3 pm Pre-Annual Conference Workshop “Start a Creation Care Ministry in 6 Simple Steps,” where experienced leaders will provide tips on how to begin a fruitful Creation Care ministry at your local church. The first 60 attendees to register will receive the free Kindle book '7 Simple Steps to Green Your Church' as a special gift. Click for registration information.