Prompted by the Commission on Christian Action (CCA) and in light of climate change, the General Synod has approved a variety of actions related to creation care and repair. The commission brought four such recommendations to the General Synod, all of which were adopted on Monday morning.
These recommendations not only came in response to growing climate crises but also to ONB 19-1, passed by the 2019 General Synod, which instructed the CCA to “review the previous 1993 Christian Action report, ‘Global Warming,’ and the 1999 report, ‘Climate Change Update,’ and to report to the General Synod in 2020 with additional recommendations for resources and actions to help the church more faithfully care for God’s creation and be a bold and compassionate witness in a time of environmental and social crisis” (Minutes of General Synod 2019, p. 126).
In sum, the recommendations urge RCA institutions, congregations, and individual members to “take immediate steps in reducing fossil fuel consumption and transitioning to renewable energy” (CCA report, p. 3).
“As members of congregations in the RCA, we share a deep love for all of God’s creation and prioritize a profound responsibility for it,” the commission wrote in its report. “Made in the image of God, we are called to continue what God is already doing for the earth (Psalm 104), enabling it to flourish.”
Two of the approved recommendations direct the General Synod Council (GSC) to act: monitoring energy use in GSC-related buildings, committing to energy efficiency, and requiring RCA investment partners to be transparent about where RCA funds are invested and to continue researching the feasibility of increasing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) portfolios.
A third recommendation directs the general secretary to collaborate with the RCA’s Formula of Agreement church partners to build and share educational and advocacy resources. The approved recommendation also mandates regular Faithward content focused on creation justice and environmental best practices for churches, as well as the use of the denomination’s online channels to share teaching videos and resources.
The commission’s final recommendation urges RCA congregations to act. Approved by majority vote, the recommendation reads as follows:
To urge congregations and classes to share ideas and resources about actionable ways that they can work toward climate justice, including but not limited to the following:
- Creating creation care and justice ministry teams that educate and advocate for environmentally sustainable practices in congregations.
- Sharing stories about what they are doing to save resources and care for the environment.
- Providing information and contacts encouraging the use of solar panels.
- Dedicating an annual Sunday service focusing on theological and spiritual practices surrounding creation care.
- Seeking energy audits from local and/or state/provincial providers, as well as measuring and reporting yearly energy expenses.
- Advocating for environment and energy justice by regularly contacting local, state/province, and federal representatives.
“The present moment is a critical and urgent one, filled with both challenge and opportunity to act as individuals, citizens, leaders, and communities of faith in solidarity with God’s good creation and in hope for our shared future,” the commission wrote in its report.
Many of the RCA’s ecumenical partners have already established commitments to environmental care and stewardship. For that list of resources, read the “Creation Care and the Climate Crisis” section of the CCA’s report.