Ta Da! Drum roll, please!

We have recently learned that our congregation has earned re-certification as a PC(U.S.A.) Earth Care Congregation (ECC) for 2021. To become and remain an ECC, congregations earn points each year in the areas of Worship, Education, Facilities and Outreach. The blog you are now reading was initiated as a main component of the Education module. It was given the title of “Eco-Justice Blog” after the name of our Eco-Justice small group.

The small group itself adopted the Eco-Justice moniker from the title of a pivotal report adopted by the 202nd General Assembly of the PC(U.S.A.) back in 1990: RESTORING CREATION FOR ECOLOGY AND JUSTICE. The report begins with this paragraph:

The term “eco-justice”—ecology and justice—means ecological health and wholeness together with social and economic justice. It means the well-being of all humankind on a thriving earth. The vision of eco-justice, as a goal toward which to move, lifts up and affirms the church’s longstanding commitment to justice and peace and adds a major new insight for our time: that justice and peace among human beings are inseparable from right relationships with and within the natural order.

As we embark upon the 3rd year of ECC status, it seems timely to acknowledge the reality of change that has taken place in our understanding and practice of “eco-justice.” As the report makes clear, the term eco-justice is meant to convey a concern for the conservation and preservation (stewardship) of the planet’s natural environment and ecosystems.

And in this era of anthropogenic climate chaos and global warming, ecological or environmental stewardship (faithful management of the planet’s natural systems) was the primary focus of concern for our small group. We understood that the Judeo-Christian scriptures proclaim the glory of God’s creative handiwork, and call upon humanity to “till and keep” (care and look after) this paradise garden gifted us by divine fiat. Echoing that call to till and keep the God-given gifts of the natural world was a prime motivation for the formation of the Eco-Justice group and also for the inception of this Eco- Justice Blog.

But that’s not all. There’s more to Restoring Creation for Ecology and Justice than just faithful stewardship of planet Earth. There is also the component that calls for the enactment of justice for all God’s creatures, great and small, in relation to the shared resources of the natural world. That’s the part that is easily missed, the ingredient that gets diluted or left out of the recipe. The 1990 report addresses the justice ingredient in part with these words:

That All People May Know Justice: Participation and Sufficiency

God’s call for justice pertains particularly to right relationships in the community or society. Justice is an extension of love for the immediate neighbor to a concern for the common good. It is also the insistence that all members of society be included in its “good.” A society’s institutions, therefore, are to be structured with respect for the basic needs and rights of all its members. Their interests, of course, do not entirely coincide, but a just society achieves a relative harmony. Its laws and institutions are designed, not only to promote the well-being of the society as a whole, but to meet the rightful claim of each member to a fair share of the resources available for a fulfilling life…

The obstacles to policies of sustainability and justice have to be met with political organization and democratically based power. To organize and act for stewardship and justice means to demand and enact a more democratic and equitable share of nature’s sustenance, together with serious respect for nature’s limits. The details of a strategy to achieve a sustainable sufficiency for all have yet to be determined. Nevertheless, the church should speak to, and be represented in, the arenas of public action—pressing for practices and policies that will be steps toward sustainable sufficiency. And the church, faithful in proclamation of the gospel and in public witness, may offer to new leaders and many people a spiritual empowerment, a transcendence of self-interest, and a vision of eco-justice, whereby human intelligence, energy, and creativity may be released to fashion the new economic arrangements that will accord with the norms for our time.

That Community May Be Achieved: Solidarity

In the face of the widening gap between rich and poor, the alienation of humankind from nature, God’s new doing comes as a call for reconciliation and the achievement of community. The norm of solidarity gives forceful expression to the affirmation of community. Solidarity means strong, vibrant community based on commitment and fidelity. In the context of the eco-justice crisis it embraces ecological, ethical themes of each individual’s worth and dignity together with the fundamental interdependence and unity of the Creator’s creatures. It affirms that human beings are all members of one human family, sharing common needs and aspirations, making an equal claim for basic sustenance, while belonging also to nature as integral components of one creation.

Eco-Justice deals, then, with the broad spectrum of morality and immorality, righteousness and unrighteousness, right and wrong. Aldo Leopold, the Father of the American conservation movement stated in his treatise on Land Ethic that, “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

We have come to understand that Eco-Justice is rightly about preserving the integrity, stability and beauty of God’s whole biotic community, that symbiotic web of life that sustains planet Earth and all its inhabitants. Therefore, the content of this blog has also grown to reflect this holistic, integral understanding that better emulates the PC(U.S.A.) call to Restore Creation for Ecology and Justice.

Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching—even when doing the wrong thing is legal.”

Aldo Leopold