“The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.”
“The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because I have been anointed to give good news to the poor; He has sent me to heal the broken heart; to preach freedom to the captives, and bring sight to the blind; to release the oppressed.”
Waking Up — why we can’t afford to sleep in any later.
In spite of growing public awareness and stricter government regulation, fossil fuels are expected to continue to dominate the energy market, still producing between 75 and 80 percent by 2030. To date, no other energy source has proven nearly as potent, cheap and reliable as fossil fuels. Renewable sources, though varied, are still very costly and inefficient, and other options still are uncompetitive. The road to a renewable and sustainable future will clearly not be a smooth or simple one. To the contrary, it is a road that must be forged through dense difficulties. It can only begin when we—individuals, families, churches, and organizations wake up to the reality of the problem, and make the solution a top, personal priority. Changes—real, tangible, visible changes will need to be made on our part.
Taking up the Call — The Australian Territories
On the international stage, the conversation surrounding climate change is growing deeper and louder. The recognition of it and response to it are undeniably greater than ever before. This is confirmed by a decision by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to elevate this issue to the very top of the UN agenda: “We have moved climate change up to the top of the agenda, where it belongs; we cannot now let those who depend on us down.” Indeed many members of civil society who formerly exhibited little interest are today devoting major portions of their website space, budgets and media attention to the discussion of climate change. The Salvation Army has just begun to recognize the extreme relevance of our changing climate to its mission within the world. Officers and Soldiers in Australia are among those leading the army world in relating climate change to the discussion—of social justice, missions, and even salvation.
Through the above “regional highlights” we have witnessed the ways in which certain territories of the Salvation Army are experiencing climate change and responding locally. We now turn our attention to the efforts of Salvationists as advocates for issues of climate change in the public place. Advocacy is a crucial piece of an effective response. It not only addresses micro-level implications, within families and local communities, but it also urges change in the public arena and from our policy makers. This means awareness raising, educating, preaching, letter writing, blog posting, facebooking—anything that can be used to ensure that the public and our heads of state know the issue and our concern for it. The Salvation Army throughout Australia is actively about this task. Here’s how:
Making a Statement. Firstly, the Salvation Army in Australia (among other places) has already approved and released a formal positional statement regarding issues of the environment. This is a vital first step for any serious engagement with an issue. It demonstrates that the territory has indeed reviewed the issue, explored theological implications, and deemed it relevant and important.
Making Noise. Secondly, the Australian territories have launched their own social justice departments, charged with raising issues of social justice throughout the territories and on the internet. Their websites have regular blog writers, video posts, and offer wide variety resources covering everything from human trafficking to poverty and indigenous rights. They even foster an active Facebook community where individuals, particularly youth, have the opportunity to join the discussion themselves. Beyond the internet, the social justice departments are active in giving talks and teachings, leading awareness campaigns and starting person to person discussions at the territorial and divisional levels. They have been a key promoter of environmental awareness in their territories.
Taking a Stand. Thirdly, Australian Salvationists are active in their civic engagement. This means monitoring related governmental policies and statements and speaking out about them. For example, Pipeline Magazine, a monthly Salvation Army publication recently released an article titled ‘Taxing Times,’ which advocated on behalf of a controversial carbon tax initiative by the Australian government (available online here). The article noted environmental and fiscal benefits to such a tax, urging Salvationists to support federal efforts toward a greener society and economy.
The Australian territories exhibit a great start at Christian environmental stewardship—truly an example to be learned from. Their varied online resources for corps, youth, and leadership are certainly worth a look. Check them out online here: (For Corps, For Youth, For Activists)