On Sunday, April 26, First Congregational Church will be commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. Worship including participation by our youth, will be followed by a light luncheon and an 11th Hour Presentation focused on Renewable Energy by Professor Dan Kuchma of Tufts University. Given the urgency of climate change, this 50th Anniversary of Earth Day will be an opportunity recommit ourselves to the task of advocating for our planetary home as people of faith.
The first Earth Day was on April 22, 1970. Millions joined in observing it. Yet Earth Day was conceived not by out-of-touch idealists but by those rooted in pragmatism as well as politics, beginning with Governor Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who later was elected to the US senate. The stakes were high, for as late as the 1960’s there were no environmental regulations or laws in place to protect even our water supply or the air we breathe. Perceived as a hindrance on the nation’s economy and a stumbling block for consumers, nothing was in place to protect the very ecosystem that sustained us.
In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), came on the heels of numerous laws directed to protecting our health and nation’s resources, including: The Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Management Act. Far from the notion that Earth Day only means planting a symbolic tree or giving well-meaning speeches, Earth Day was conceived through the organization of educational forums, building broad-based coalitions and political advocacy. It was successful because it recognized that clean water and clean air, the safeguarding of wilderness and the species that inhabit it, are wholly necessary for health and well-being; no matter what side of the political aisle you sit on and what demographic you belong to.
Concerning the current administration, between pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, as well as engaging in the systematic dismantling of regulations and laws protecting not only this present generation but our children’s children, it is imperative that on this 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, we as people of faith reclaim its pragmatic, collective and advocative roots. This is not only our vocation, but as those who profess faith in a God whose creation we have been blessed with, we have a moral obligation to carry on the work of those who labored before us.
The FCC Environmental Ministries Team and the United Church of Christ, ask that each of us make every election an opportunity to express care for creation. We thereby invite you to take the Creation Care Voter Pledge, which is a non-partisan effort supporting people of faith in consistently voting to protect God’s beloved creation.