Creation is declared “good” with every new addition, with every new creature, with every new animal, with the formation of humankind. But reports of climate change, increasing carbon emissions, poor air quality causing health issues, and the rapid extinction of species prompts an undeniable dissonance between the current status of the environment and the Creation story found in Genesis.
On September 21, 2014, Presbyterians far and near traveled to New York City to participate in the People’s Climate Change march. Members from both Summit Presbyterian Church and Tabernacle United Church joined over 400,000 people committed to caring for our earth and reversing troubling environmental trends. “We were amazed at the vast amount of people that came out, and beyond inspired by the passion that everyone had for the cause,” claims Summit participant Tiffinee Gentry, who attended the march with her son, Mason. “Marching alongside people of different races, backgrounds, and ethnicities, singing, shouting, laughing, and sharing stories was so moving and yet peaceful. It was a positive experience that we will never forget.”
Prior to the march, Tabernacle United held a training event for leaders across the region. “To see all those people in the street was a visceral reminder of how hard thousands of other organizers are working throughout the U. S., and how deep American passions on this issue really run,” says Tabernacle United member Cord Briggs. “The experience of marching with hundreds of thousands of others was incredibly moving. This contingent included people who are being harmed by climate change but whose voices tend to be marginalized. Native Americans, people of color, and the economically downtrodden played a central role in showing that this is not a narrow issue of concern. Everyone is being effected by a changing climate.”
Marguerite Spencer, member of Summit and part of the church’s Social and Environmental Justice Committee finds inspiration in her pastor, Rev. Cheryl Pyrch, as well as her son. “I hadn’t given the environment a great deal of thought myself,” Spencer claims. “Perhaps being my age and generation – a child of the 60’s and 70’s – my passion was social justice and civil and human rights.” Her pastor and her son’s interest in climate change made this march imperative. She, too, was inspired by the breadth of participants. “Like the crowds in New York that entered the march from Broadway or Central Park West, we come from different streams of interest initially but we flow into the same river of concern, all of us bringing powerful ideas and leadership vision. We ‘environmentalists,’ especially, must remember and display that this is indeed God’s world, which means it belongs to all of us – materially, intellectually, spiritually.”
A rainbow tells of God’s covenant, an earthquake marks Jesus’ death, a rush of wind fills a home of first believers. The stones continue to cry out, demanding our attention and care, not just because of our own potential health issues, not just out of concern for our offspring, but because God declares Creation good, and entrusts everything living to our care. May we listen to the cries of the earth and the imperative to respond with Christian action.