By Cara Fleischer, FLUMC Creation Care Task Team Chair
Around the world, United Methodists and other Christian denominations are celebrating the Season of Creation from September 1 through St. Francis Day on October 4. The theme for 2020 is “Jubilee for the Earth” and focuses on reaffirming our relationship with God and creation by acknowledging our sins against the world, making positive changes, and rejoicing together. Through sermons, songs, prayers, daily reflections, events, and personal actions, the Season of Creation is an opportunity to lift up our spiritual call to be good stewards of the earth. Resources are shared for all to use at www.seasonofcreation.org and there is still time to incorporate some ideas into the life of your church now, or begin planning for next year.
COVID has required that churches develop creative ways to celebrate the Season of Creation. Some are moving their Blessing of the Animals service online, and at Cornerstone UMC in Naples, they are encouraging pet owners to hold their pets during the service to receive a blessing over the internet. Under the leadership of Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, the North Carolina Conference has embraced the Season of Creation with a weekly webinar series and a conference-wide worship service that can be enjoyed here https://vimeo.com/452194975.
Why are so many United Methodists celebrating the Season of Creation? The answer is found in our faith, as scripture guides us to be good stewards of the earth, to love our neighbors, and to take care of those in need. Sadly, 2020 has unleashed a worldwide pandemic, record fires, floods, droughts, and hurricanes that have left a trail of human and ecological suffering. We are at a crossroads, and our UM Book of Discipline encourages us to make changes that support a more “sustainable world leading to a higher quality of life for all of God’s creation.” United Methodists across America and the world are responding to the call, and there are many ways to get involved.
Here are seven simple actions you can take during the Season of Creation and beyond to make a difference:
- Pray for creation regularly. See the Season of Creation prayer to get started.
- Enjoy time in nature and learn how to make your backyard a haven for wildlife. http://www.nwf.org/garden.
- Read what United Methodists believe about the environment in the “United Methodist Book of Discipline, Social Principles: The Natural World.” https://www.umc.org/en/content/social-principles-the-natural-world.
- Email your church leadership and ask how you can get involved in caring for creation at your church. There may already be an active Creation Care ministry that you can join, or if not, you can learn more about starting one.
- Register for a webinar about the environment that interests you. Join United Methodists all over Florida for the monthly Eat, Pray, Grow Creation Care Zoom gathering held on the fourth Tuesday of the month from 12-1 pm by registering here: www.forms.gle/nrJ5ez7BDJ8PESbw5. To learn from national leaders, sign up for the UMC Virtual Creation Justice Summit on Zoom held on October 16-17 at http://www.umcreationjustice.org/summit/.
- Find your Carbon Footprint at home and at church by using an online calculator like the one at www.coolcongregations.org/calculators/ and then set goals to reduce it.
- Watch an environmental film. “Global Weirding with Katharine Hayhoe” are short PBS videos that can be found on YouTube that answer big questions like “The Bible Doesn’t Talk About Climate Change, Right?” and “What’s the Big Deal with a Few Degrees?” Beautiful nature shows like the “Planet Earth” series celebrate the diversity of ecosystems, as well as hopeful documentaries like the Netflix “Kiss the Ground” narrated by Woody Harrelson that explores how soil health can capture carbon and heal the planet.
During this Season of Creation and all year long, we can live into our spiritual call to be good stewards of the earth, to love our neighbors, and to take care of those in need. Learn more about Creation Care and make sustainability a priority in your life and your church by visiting www.UMCreationJustice.org and remember to go outside and enjoy the beautiful creation that God has made for us all.