The Peacemaking Task Force of Albany Presbytery, at its August Zoom meeting, decided to focus on two major issues, Creation Care and Black Lives Matter, giving them each sustained attention. The more we discussed these two issues, the more we realized how much they are related.
This is clearly illustrated by an article that appeared in The New York Times Magazine on August 2, 2020. The title of the article was “The Refinery Next Door” written by Linda Villarosa with photographs by Hannah Price.
The magazine cover has a photo of a massive refinery with a caption reading:
“Black Americans are 75 percent more likely than others to live near facilities that produce Hazardous Waste. Can a grass-roots environmental-justice movement make a difference?” That line illustrates that these major issues are related. This story points clearly to the problem of environmental racism.
Many people are reading and discussing the issue of racism.
It is good to see so many churches in our presbytery, and beyond, are reading and discussing books related to racism and the reality that Black Lives Matter. This is a work that will continue and the issues and learning will be folded into our ongoing work and life as a people of faith.
The Peacemaking Task Force is encouraging churches to take part in a program that is offered by the PCUSA to work on the issue of Creation Care.
The program is called “Earth Care Congregations.” It is a rather easy, non threatening way for congregations to respond to Creation Care. It works by looking at four areas of a church’s life: Worship, Education, Facilities and Outreach. You can learn more by clicking here. A few congregations in our Presbytery are working with this program and find it helpful. If you have questions and would like more information please do not hesitate to email me or call me at 518-439-2754.
As a people of faith we find our center and strength in the Word.
The psalmist says:”The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it…” (Ps. 24:1)
In these times we are realizing in new and deeper ways that everyone and everything is connected. God has made the earth and all that is upon it so that it is a web of life in which all strands are connected. We are all very much a part of the web. Furthermore, we all have the power to further the well being of the planet and all that is upon it. At the same time, we have tremendous power for doing damage and destruction.
Given our power it is incredibly important that we hear and live the words of our Lord, who when asked which commandment was first of all, said:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first and great commandment and the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:29-30)
Climate Change and Racism are connected issues.
The work of Creation Care and Black Lives Matter is before us. This work will not be done quickly. We do ourselves and others a disservice if we do not do this work well, or hurry it so can rush off to some other agenda. There will be, of course, other issues that will need attention; however we will make progress in the areas of Creation Care and Black Lives Matter only if we are willing to give them a sustained focus. That goes not just for the Peacemaking Task Force, but for all us as individuals and as members of our various churches.
In order to do this work we need to embrace both the call and hope.
We can do this sustained work only by realizing that we are not alone. It is important that we remember that God is at work in us and through us. St. Paul wrote: “For it is God who is at work in you enabling you to both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”(Philippians 2:13)
These words give us hope for the work that we are called to do.
We also need to be mindful that God is at work in many others besides ourselves. God is also in at work in those who may not even be consciously aware of the presence and activity of the Spirit working in and through them in the work they do.
We are all part of something that is larger and grander than we realize.
It is a work we can only start, and participate in, but it will continue and unfold beyond our time. In the midst of all of this we must not fall victim to the voices of fear. We must not be taken in by listening mainly to fear. Every day we must hear the Word of God and the message of hope. Otherwise we will lose faith and in losing faith we will drop out of the battle.
The Good News is that “It is God who is at work in you enabling you to both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”