Earth Day and Beyond: Caring for God's Creation and Encouraging Others to Get Involved
By Ken Sloane
Earth Day is April 22, and the next Sunday, April 25, has been designated as Festival of God’s Creation Sunday. Both are opportunities for United Methodist congregations to reflect on the goodness of God’s creation and our responsibility as stewards through worship, education and action. Where do we begin? Here’s a quick checklist:
- Engage your community through social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, Reddit, and Snapchat. Through social media, you can share information and content and form communities through online and mobile networks of people. It’s a way to celebrate, inspire, publicize, and share creation care activities, news and success stories.
- “Follow,” “like,” “share,” “favorite,” and “retweet” social media sites whose creation care messages and goals parallel yours.
- Jumpstart your conversation with social media sites that have no character limit, as well as with Twitter (280-character limit). See sample social media messages below.
- Post original social media content. The size and capabilities of your congregation and church staff will help determine how ambitious your effort will be. Leading up to Earth Day—and throughout the year—plan regular (monthly, weekly or daily) topics and messages. Doing so will help organize your social media effort and build a strong online presence and following.
- Use social media to guide your congregation, share information and start conversation. Ask questions to generate response.
- Share creation care images, tips, and resources from a variety of sources. Ask your members what they are doing as individuals and families to care for the earth.
- Post links to helpful stories or websites and tell why you find them useful.
- Tag others by using the @ symbol to gain visibility on other social media pages.
- Use #hashtags to start conversation on individual topics related to creation care. Ask questions that encourage people to exchange ideas and talk with one another.
- Be sure your congregation has an Earth Advocacy team leader to help members engage in ongoing creation care, advocacy, and appreciation as an important dimension of Christian discipleship and stewardship. See Discipleship Ministries | Earth Advocacy Team Leader Job Description (umcdiscipleship.org)
- Need tools? Find “Toolkit for Launching Your Creation Care Ministry.” It’s a storehouse of Scriptures, quotes, sermon suggestions, liturgy, prayers, and book and film references. See Discipleship Ministries | Toolkit for Launching Your Creation Care Ministry (umcdiscipleship.org)
- Check out other United Methodist agencies for additional ideas and resources.
Here are some sample social media messages:
- Wesley United Methodist Church is committed to caring for God’s creation. We want to ensure a brighter future for our children and for vulnerable communities around the world. We invite you to join us on this journey!
- How do you care for God’s beautiful earth at home, in your local church and in your workplace? By switching to reusable products, energy-saving lightbulbs or recycling? Please share your ideas!
- “Restore Our Earth”—the 2021 Earth Day theme—focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world's ecosystems. How are you making a difference?
- “We are now God’s stewards. … [God] entrusts us with [this world’s goods] on this express condition, that we use them only as our Master’s goods, and according to the particular directions which he has given us in his Word.” – John Wesley
- “The pure of heart see all things full of God. They see him in the firmament of heaven, in the moon walking in brightness, in the sun when he rejoiceth as a giant to run his course. … They see him ‘preparing rain for the earth,’ ‘and blessing the increase of it.’” – John Wesley
One day will not undo the damage we’ve done to God’s creation over decades. Earth Day simply reminds us that we must be advocates for the earth and defenders of creation every day if our children and grandchildren will have a world that can sustain them.
Ken Sloane is the Director of Stewardship & Generosity for Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church.