The United Methodist Women (UMW) are doing their job! Climate Justice was their 2016 spearheaded focus, and now they’re officially backing the 2019 student climate strike. Are they the only mainstream church organization that’s combating climate emergency?
Climate Crisis & Church Leadership
Women are the most active church leaders on social issues. And the United Methodist Women know the poorest and most vulnerable people are first to experience the destructive effects of climate change. Therefore, they are strong advocates for climate justice. Still, that doesn’t mean the at-large United Methodist Church is supporting them, or joining the Climate Strike. In some places, the UMC quite effectively ignores the women’s leadership group.
I live near Clearwater, Florida. Around here, there wasn’t a Methodist “peep” for climate justice in 2016. More recently, a United Methodist minister of the surrounding locale employed the image of a power plant (!) — with billowing smoke pouring from the stacks — as a visual metaphor for the power of the Holy Spirit. (The Sun traditionally plays that role, to great literary and logical effect.)
Mainstream Christian denominations try to accommodate the local culture. That’s to be desired, in most cases. Around here, however, the Methodists coddle political far-right climate-denying fundamentalists — likely for the sake of numbers and dollars; there are many such folks hereabout.
Yet, the United Methodist Women are an international organization that forges ahead with effective purpose in many parts of the country and the world. Their recognition of the devastating climate crisis, and their committed push for climate justice, helps to steady my nerves. Thankfully, they are not the lone platoon of Christian soldiers on this battlefront.
Other traditional Christian voices also cry out for climate action. Christianity is the core philosophy of renown climate advocate Al Gore, a Baptist. Episcopalian presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg wants to fight climate change with religion. Pope Francis wrote an encyclical on the environment and climate change. Evangelical* Christian Katherine Hayhoe is a highly respected climate scientist. Undoubtedly, countless members of secular climate action groups also belong to a mainstream Christian denomination.
* Evangelical churches don’t fall into the category of mainline Christian protestant denominations. Hayhoe is just too outstanding not to include in this paragraph.
Climate, Reality & Responsibility
But the climate crisis isn’t about religion or politics. It’s about reality and responsibility. The good and sane United Methodist Women deserve kudos for taking a stand on climate justice. Their kindness, awareness and wisdom lead them to care for neighbor, nature, and the future. And you know what? They don’t mind if they’re not popular with the mainstream church, or the Republican Party.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”~ Psalm 24:1
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