2 Words Every Pastor Should Say in 2016February 11, 2016
Since my trip in December for the COP21 United Nations climate talks in Paris, I've thought a lot about what it will take to truly make a difference. While the agreement offers a start, much more work remains. I expressed these thoughts in an excellent article by Grace Ji-Sun Kim in Sojourners magazine.
One thing I heard repeatedly from Christian leaders in Paris was the importance of the faith community speaking out on this issue since political leaders cannot be expected to actually do what needs to be done. I heard this from climate justice leaders like Bishop Efraim Tendero of the World Evangelical Alliance, Brian Webb of Climate Caretakers, Rich Cizik of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, and others. Based on what I learned in Paris, I believe that we will not adequately tackle climate issues if church leaders remain silent on the sideline.
Thus, I believe there are two words every pastor - especially pastors in the United States - need to say this year: climate change. And not in a scoffing tone or even just a passing moment, but with moral clarity that clearly notes humans are impacting the climate with devastating consequence for many people in the global South and East.
"Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable," we find in Proverb 31. "Speak out in order to judge with righteousness and to defend the needy and the poor."
If we remain silent, millions of our global neighbors will suffer even more from a changing climate. Thus, I want to challenge every pastor to prophetically preach about the importance of loving our neighbors across the globe and across time (since future generations will live with the consequences of our behaviors).
I'm even practicing what I'm preaching (or, in this case, preaching what I'm preaching). I've preached two sermons this year (both at Union Mound Baptist Church in January). In the second one I shared stories and photos from the COP21 talks in Paris and reflected on a couple of Psalms to consider issues related to climate change and creation care.
I hope other pastors - as well as Sunday School teachers - will also speak out on this important moral topic. Please share in the comments any sermon links or reflections on addressing climate change from the pulpit. Let us raise our voices together for our global neighbors.