Thursday, April 20, 2017

Shall We Gather at the River?

Image result for colorado river drying up before and after

Through the years I have worked with evangelical pastors who have a deep concern for the wellbeing of the environment, believing that Creation Care is biblically mandated. The ministerial in the community where I lived before coming to Belleville was mostly evangelical clergy and we sponsored a day-long workshop on faith and the environment which was well attended.

There have been other conservative Christians and leaders who are deeply suspicious of any efforts to include care for the Earth in their God-talk. We know that in the United States evangelicals have enthusiastically supported a president who denies climate change and is dismantling environmental regulations. This is deeply discouraging.

News that evangelical pastors along the Colorado River are preaching and teaching environmental awareness and care for ecosystems in encouraging. An article in the New York Times a few days ago began this way:

YUMA, Ariz. — The Rev. Victor Venalonzo opened his New Testament to the Book of Revelation on a recent Sunday and offered the men and women assembled at Iglesia Betania for a weekly Bible study a fresh look at its apocalyptic message.
“We’re failing as stewards of God’s creation, but these changes we’re seeing, that’s not God punishing us — we’re destroying ourselves,” Mr. Venalonzo told them. He alternated between English and Spanish, as he does all day in his Pentecostal church, which sits across from a trailer park and a half-mile from the Mexican border, serving Latinos who have recently arrived in the country and those born in the United States.
Until recently, the environment was never a topic that Mr. Venalonzo included in sermons to his congregants, who are mostly concerned about how they will pay their bills, find work, and keep their children on course in school and away from drugs.
But that has changed as development, drought, overuse and a drier, warming climate threaten the Colorado River, the source of the water they drink and use to irrigate the fields where they work. “Our lifeblood,” Mr. Venalonzo calls it.

The once mighty Colorado has become a trickle in it's lower reaches and no longer flows to the sea. There just isn't enough water to meet all the demand, so everyone suffers.  Some of the pastors would baptize converts in the river, but is now so shallow that this isn't possible in some places.

Image result for colorado river drying up before and after

We all come to an understanding of our human effect on climate and our need to protect the world around us in different ways and at different stages. I'm just glad to hear that God is opening the eyes and ears of these Christians. Let's hope that more will pay attention.


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