Climate change. Global warming. Weather wilding. Polar vortexes. Permanent aridity. Carbon displacement—are among the growing list of terms that add to an awareness that our environment is changing. Life as we’ve known it is likely to experience significant disruption. What should people of faith do with growing evidence that human activity is playing a significant role in the environmental crisis? Is there a place for hope? Is there a role for the church?
This past winter Albuquerque Mennonite Church decided to spend part of its mission budget on an effort to address some of these questions. “We are focusing the next two years on ways we as a community can engage the [environmental] issues, to find ways to transform our lives to reflect a more balanced—less consumptive way of living, speak to the issues of access to water, food justice, energy use, hyper-individualism and lack of community.” said AMC mission elder Clayton Roberts.
“The issues that are consuming the church today will pale in comparison to the social disruptions that will overwhelm our society as the earth’s temperatures continue to rise and water, food, shelter and other basic human requirements become increasingly scarce. The people at the bottom of society will suffer first and most significantly. The likelihood of violence and repressive responses by those with power will grow.”
One response is for local churches to become informed and find ways to take action within their own bioregions or watersheds. Albuquerque Mennonite Church is hosting a discussion on earth justice in theology and practice April 4-6. Keynote speakers will be Ched Meyers and Elaine Enns of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries, Oak View, Cal.
Ched is an activist theologian who has worked in social change movements for almost 40 years. He is nationally known for his theological and biblical work on Sabbath economics and ecological justice. Elaine has worked in the field of restorative justice and conflict transformation since 1989 as mediator, consultant, educator and trainer.
“The environmental crisis we face can be an overwhelming concept that gives us no clear course of action. Watershed Discipleship gives communities of faith a way forward. It is based on the value of local economies and eco-systems. We cannot save the world—but we can save places—place by place, especially as we learn from—or become “disciples” of our own local watersheds,” noted Roberts. “We believe that reconciliation and healing is intended for all relationships, including our own relationships with creation—and ultimately with our Creator.”
Register online at www.abqmennonite.org. Suggested donation ($20 -$40) is on a sliding scale. Don’t let lack of funds prevent you from attending. The weekend will also include a concert by local band Cactus Tractor, which has an AMC connection. Childcare is available. Please indicate on the registration form. Tentative schedule and other details are also available at www.abqmennonite.org.