Will you be a good steward?

We are Christians, seminarians in our 20s and 30s. We hope to be your future pastors and community leaders. We pray. We read our Bibles.195-04-3.jpg


And we care about creation.


For us, the environment isn’t peripheral to our Christian identity.


As we’ve grown up, gone to college, entered the work force and then entered seminary, we’re aware of church leaders’ concerns about the fate of our denominations. We share these concerns. They impact our future — substantially.


We’re also aware of the degradation of our soil, our oceans and our climate.


While we are asked why more young people, like us, avoid our churches, we long for an answer to another vital question.


Why do our parents, mentors and church leaders not leap alongside us into action to fight climate change?


Our generation does not have the luxury of dancing around these realities. We and our children will be directly affected by eroding soil and melting ice caps.


To us these are not just sidebar issues. For us, they are central to our faith and our call to action as Christians. They are also central to many in our generation who do not attend church.


As more of our ecosystems are threatened and the order of nature is compromised, we hear echoes of Genesis. As we begin to fully understand the holiness of creation, savoring all that we taste and see, we recall God’s commission to humanity to be good stewards. Because of the uncertainty of the well-being of our planet, we see creation as more beautiful and important than ever. Ecological issues are now the genesis of our call to action as Christians.


This is why we want to implore the church to learn to live in a way that respects creation, to demonstrate our love for God and for our neighbors.


We think of faith as a powerful, communal and holistic vision advocated by Jesus, that radical vision of infinite call for justice and liberation. We are influenced by the ancient Judeo-Christian vision of Shalom. This vision defines our ecological sensibility and bids us to change our own lifestyles and consumption habits — and to press for larger-scale change. We will not, cannot be content with individual change. It’s simply not enough.


The undoing of the ecological chaos promoted by industrial society is surely a complex task. But to us, what is clearly needed most is obvious: not only a change in individual behavior but a change in public policy. Only policies can foster the large-scale change that’s needed.


We’re stunned at our nation’s laxity in addressing devastating changes in our climate. As an industrialized nation that creates 25 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, we are appalled that, as a matter of national policy, we are doing nothing about the problem we have contributed so much to create.


Why are we not seeing national caps on CO2 emissions? Why are we not focused on guiding our economy toward renewable energy and sustainable practices? Why are our national leaders — religious and otherwise — not making this the priority it should be?


Ignoring these problems will not make these threats go away.


With the same voice as Hosea, Amos, Micah, we, as young Christians, profess that issues of climate change are issues of justice.


In the renowned confession at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter loyally responds, “You are the Christ.” We understand this powerful statement to profess belief in a cosmically committed God who loves the Earth just like God loves us.


In honoring creation, we honor the beauty and goodness of God. Our motivation is to praise our Creator, the recipient of all of our worship. We long to see the body of Christ unified in celebrating and honoring the beauty of our Creator and the creation we live in.


God created light from darkness. In praise of God’s glory we will do more than use energy-efficient light bulbs — we will advocate for policies to fight climate change and to create renewable energy on a massive scale.


God separated the waters from the earth. In praise of God’s power we will do more than take shorter showers — we will support policies to protect water quality and to conserve this source of life.


God created us in the divine image. In response, the church must rise to the occasion. We will use the powers at our disposal to press those in power to chart a safe and healthy future for our planet.


Will we be good stewards? We can only wait and see. But we think this is the central challenge facing the church. And we’re committed — with many others in our generation — to getting this right.


Church leaders — will you join us?


JONATHAN FRANKLIN and LAUREN GULLY are seminarians at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J.