In 2016, a Creation Care study committee was authorized in response to a query on continuing the study of our Christian responsibility to care for God’s creation. Their report, titled “Creation Care: Faith into Action,” includes a list of recommendations that have been adopted by the 2018 Annual Conference.
Committee chair Sharon Yohn shared the process the committee used and the rationale for the recommendations, stating that care for our brothers and sisters is part of our calling in Christ. She noted that climate change has the potential to cause great harm to people both in our country and around the world. Reducing fossil fuel use may help avoid that harm. Pollution is a more immediate harm that also can be reduced.
The committee did three things. They pulled together many helpful resources on energy use and conversion to other types of energy that are posted on the Church of the Brethren website at www.brethren.org/creationcare . They developed a new Brethren Creation Care Network, a team of volunteers who will be coordinated by the Office of Public Witness. And they developed a list of recommendations for moving from fossil fuel to renewable energy, with recommendations for all levels of the church--denomination, districts, congregations, and individuals. The recommendations were the part of the report that was up for a vote, and were open to amendment.
Discussion began with table talk among the delegates, focusing on the questions, “In what practical ways do you see your congregation responding to the findings and recommendations of this report? How can you personally respond?”
Some amendments were made that revised the recommendations. One amendment added a new point, to “continue to consider how district and denominational investments impact climate change.” Asked to respond to this proposed amendment, Yohn responded that the committee had considered recommending divestment but also understood that sometimes ownership of stock in a corporation allows a voice that may drive change in how the corporation does business. The amendment was adopted, with wording that would allow investors to do what works best to accomplish their goals.
Another amendment dealt with concerns about whether the recommendations would be binding or merely advisory. It added the word “suggested” to revised one sentence to read: “While it is not feasible in our current society to immediately stop using all fossil fuels, here is a simple list of suggested actions that start moving us in that direction.”
A third amendment added a point at the beginning of a list of recommendations for congregations, suggesting that they “carefully and prayerfully consider energy use and how it may be reduced.”
After a time of additional comment from the microphones, the recommendations were adopted as revised.
-- Frances Townsend contributed this report.
For more onsite coverage of Annual Conference go to www.brethren.org/ac/2018/coverage .
The news coverage of Annual Conference 2018 is made possible through the work of communications staff and a volunteer news team: Frank Ramirez, Conference Journal editor; photographers Glenn Riegel, Regina Holmes, Keith Hollenberg, Donna Parcell, Laura Brown; writers Frances Townsend, Karen Garrett, Alyssa Parker; youth team member Allie Dulabaum; web staff Jan Fischer Bachman, Russ Otto; Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services; Wendy McFadden, publisher. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.