Grow Closer to God this Earth Day | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
April 2012

Grow Closer to God this Earth Day

By John Hodges-Batzka
Happy Earth Day! While not a specifically Christian holiday, Earth Day gives us, as Christians, the chance to deepen our connection with God as revealed through creation. Here are a few tips about how you and the young people in your congregation can deepen your love for God and neighbor by taking respecting God's creative work. First, familiarize yourself on United Methodist theology concerning the environment. As green initiatives have become more and more political polarizing, it's import to be aware of the theology behind creation care. While a great starting point for theology on the subject can be found in the social principles of the Book of Discipline. A greatsummary of UM positions on the environment has been put together by the General Board of Church and Society. For a more thorough exploration of the theology of creation care, you can also read Hope and Action: God's Renewed Creation, a pastoral letter released by the Council of Bishops in 2009 addressing threats to God's creation. Second, take part in efforts to green your own behavior and the behavior of your congregation. A great starting point are two books by Rebekah Simon-Peter, an ordained United Methodist pastor with a degree in Environmental Studies, called Green Church and Seven Simple Ways to Green Your Church. If you'd like to take action to see the environmental impact of your church (and find some ways to save some money!), visit's environmental impact page, the official page for the aforementioned bishops' pastoral letter. For ways to get your church involved in community action on the environment, visit the National Council of Churches eco-justice program. You can also find an extensive catalogue of resources there. If you want to involve your congregation in specific acts of worship for Earth Day, go to the GBOD Worship Page for some ideas. Lastly, help your young people directly experience creation. Lifelong Methodists are likely aware of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. The quadrilateral is a four-faceted system telling us how we can experience God through scripture, reason, tradition and experience. The last aspect of the quadrilateral explains that we can experience God in the created order. So get out there with your young people and experience the beauty of God's creation! Visit a national park, go on a hike or walk, or find other ways to enjoy the warm weather in most of the country. You can even find ways to experience God through creation by eating. Visit a local farm, find out how God provides for us through the harvest, and eat some great food. Earth Day reminds us of the grandeur of God's creation. God has created the world around us so that we may come into relationship with the Father and the Son. Help the young people that you are in ministry with to experience that relationship. [image via]