I looked at the various denominations’ websites Home Pages back in 2011 at the beginnings of the Occupy Movement, to look for how seriously the various denominations took their role as prophetic voices for economic justice. The home pages didn’t seem to reflect much of a consciousness of the importance of the economic crisis at that moment. Now, as Pope Francis’ Encyclical (Laudato Si) has brought the theological significance of the Climate Crisis front and center , I set out again to scan the various denomination’s websites for signs of re-thinking the role of the church in a Climate Crisis. And once again, the home pages gave little to no indication that this is something on the radar, much less an issue of primary importance.
My thoughts in exploring this level of focus on the Climate Crisis, speaks to the sense of the urgency of the situation , and the church’s role in prophetic calling to rally the troops to do some “saving”, only this time , it’s the very existence of humanity (or the millions that will suffer under the consequences of continued Climate Change forcings, or even the failure to LIMIT what is already inevitable by seeking the most radical measures we can to at least mitigate what is coming).
Communication Agencies and Theological Education MUST take the lead on this. There is work to be done on what story we tell about our mission now. Times are different. A New Reformation of theology is REQUIRED to be faithful to these moments, which are truly apocalyptic.
If the Home page is to be seen as an indication of what a church body considers to be its mission and identity, then the story they tell about what the Church is doing and what it considers crucial to ministry would be reflected there, in addition to the “Bio” information about offices, locations, leadership, and organizations. To what extent do the churches in our country consider the Climate Crisis to be a threat to the quality of life and justice, if not the very functioning of civilization as we have known it?
Here is what I have observed so far:
- SBC (Southern Baptist Convention http://www.sbc.net/) nada
- Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF https://www.cbf.net/ ) nada
- American Baptist – (ABC-USA http://www.abc-usa.org/ ) nada
- UMC (United Methodist Church http://www.umc.org/) nada
- Lutheran (ELCA https://www.elca.org/) nada
- PCUSA https://www.pcusa.org/ (Presbyterian) nada
- UCC (United Church of Christ http://www.ucc.org/) “Latest news” item on Pope Francis and Interfaith climate leaders meeting
- Episcopal http://www.episcopalchurch.org/ (EcoJustice is in dropdown under Ministries)
- Christian Church (Disciples of Christ http://disciples.org/ ) Dropdown Under “Mission Work” Tab: EcoJustice, Under Stewardship Tab: Climate
- Eastern Orthodox (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America http://www.goarch.org/ ) Dropdown under “OurFaith” : Environment
Orthodox Church in America Nada http://oca.org/ Orthodox Church in America
- Mennonite http://mennoniteusa.org/ -nada (unless you count what’s Under “What We Believe” (not a dropdown) One of 7 priorities: “Creation Care” Under “Stewardship” (so even here, it is a sub-topic, which is not good enough, but we’ll check the others to see if they mention it (finding this caused me to go back and check the various “What We Believe” pages of the above, and see how prominently Climate Crisis appears)
In this first pass through the major groups (that I could think of), one would be hard pressed to get the impression that much is happening around Climate that the denomination considers of crucial importance, since this would seem to warrant a more extensive emphasis “up front”, “above the fold”, so to speak. Nearly all such things are buried deep within the menus of various specialty agencies. The efforts of ministries the denominations desrire to highlight and publicize are brought forward as front page links on a consistent basis.
So I am asking myself questions like these as I peruse and traverse the websites: How prominently does the Church’s work in Climate Change issues appear in the Church’s communications about itself? How deep does one have to dig through the sections in order to find what is going on in the churches in addressing theses issues? Are there any major, denomination-wide campaign efforts? And if so, how well are they held up in telling the story of the denomination’s ministry in responding to the crisis?
Not finding much to encourage me on those questions. There is definitely work to be done to indicate that an ecotheology is emerging amongst the ranks of most of American Christendom.