Presbyterians For Earth Care
By Rev. John Jackson
The 1970's seem to be the time when Presbyterians became more engaged in the ministry of Caring for Creation. I am convinced that the first Earth Day (April 22, 1970) came to be from the work of Senator Gaylord Nelson. Some even say he was a Presbyterian Elder and was a motivating factor in our Earth Care mission. Let us not forget 1962 and the publishing of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.
Presbyterians began to seriously identify the Biblical foundations for earth care and to listen to the earth scientists who were describing what is happening to our atmosphere and oceans, water, soil, animals and plants, food and human beings.
It seems that with the arrival of the 1980's, there was a concern that Presbyterians were not moving fast enough in the area of earth care, justice, and restoration. That concern led the Presbyterian Social Witness Policy group to appoint an Eco Justice task force to survey what the various ministry units of the denomination were doing in earth care.
In June 1989 came Keeping and Healing Creation. This resource describes the environmental crisis and why and how to bring restoration. Some of the leadership to bring forth this study and to prepare for the 1990 General Assembly were Beverly Phillips (Convener), Robert Stivers, Eva Clayton, Donna Ogg, and William Gibson. Staff to the subcommittee were Dieter Hessel and William Somplatsky-Jarman.
The Eco Justice Task Force and Social Witness Policy helped greatly in bringing the policy proposal: Restoring Creation for Ecology and Justice. This was passed by 97% of the General Assembly gathering in 1990. Word has it that when it was passed the Assembly stood and sang the Doxology.
Some years after 1990, a number of Presbyterians from all over the United States called for a grassroots national organization to support people of faith working towards environmental wholeness with social justice, a group that met with staff in Louisville Ky. For twenty-three years Presbyterians for Restoring Creation/Presbyterians for Earth Care have helped the church to fulfill its message of responsible policies and practices in creation care and justice and to join the Earth Day Network. https://www.earthday.org/
I would recommend that it is time to revisit Restoring Creation For Ecology And Justice, a marvelous resource!
John Jackson is a retired Presbyterian minister. He was one of those “restless Presbyterians” that brought forth the grassroots mission that over the last twenty three years became Presbyterians for Earth Care. He is the author & editor of the weekly newsletter: “Everything Is Connected” (and it is!). This presents poetry and politics, democracy and earth care, humor and laments. Please join him. FindJohnJ@aol.com