General Synod Statements: Environment

In 1982 the Christian Action Commission sent a major report to General Synod entitled “Care for the Earth: Theology and Practice.” The paper asserted that “the Church’s care for the earth and its concern over environmental peril needs to be global.” In response, General Synod passed several resolutions urging the vigilant protection of the earth’s resources. These resolutions included:

  • To affirm the vocation of farming, commend farming as a career choice and as a way of life for our young men and women, and encourage those within our denomination who are already farming to be steadfast in their calling and aware of its great potential as a way of Christian service in a hungry world.
  • To call on Reformed Church members to support the adoption and implementation of measures designed to preserve agricultural land.
  • To encourage Reformed Church farmers to use agricultural methods which care for and preserve the earth entrusted to them, and to support both private and government programs of research into soil-conserving agricultural techniques.
  • To oppose any weakening of the Clean Air Act, and to urge that provisions of that act be expanded to control the human causes of acid rain and to place limits on fine particulates and toxic chemicals in our atmosphere.
  • To encourage Reformed Church members to be involved locally in the protection and enhancement of the quality of water used in their communities, working to assure that government standards for safe water be upheld.
  • To urge the Environmental Protection Agency to be active, in cooperation with the states, to prevent further contamination of groundwater resources.
  • To urge Reformed Church members to begin taking practical steps to conserve their individual and household use of water.
  • To urge our governmental officials and agencies to treat nuclear waste disposal as an urgent and critical concern, and to curtail the production of nuclear waste until satisfactory disposal methods are developed. (MGS 1982: 65-69)

In 1994, a report to the General Synod stated that:

Responsible Christian witness in light of the environmental crisis is becoming increasingly important and urgent…the Reformed tradition offers a theology which neither merges God with creation nor denigrates creation as beyond the realm of God’s continuing interest, care, and promised redemption…Humankind has been given a special responsibility to care for creation…The degradation of creation not only imperils life, including human life on this planet, it is also a sin against God. (MGS 1994: 95)

The Commission on Theology presented the paper “Globalization, Ethics, and the Earth” to the 2005 General Synod. The synod decided to offer the paper to the church for study. (MGS 2005: 344)

In 2019, General Synod passed a recommendation that urged the RCA to take steps to reduce fossil fuel consumption and work to transition to renewable energy.

The recommendation also instructed the Commission on Christian Action to prepare a "preliminary assessment of the effects of projected climate change" on RCA congregations, mission facilities, and programs and to suggest measures for addressing those challenges. The recommendation further instructed the Commission on Christian Action to review reports to synod on climate change from 1993 and 1999 and to report to General Synod 2020 with additional recommendations for creation care.