Christians Meeting in WV Seek Action on Environmental Care

by Duane Nichols on August 1, 2013

Evangelical Environmental Network

Stewardship Seen As Responsible Use of Resources and Seeking Sustainable Resources

From the Article by David Beard, Morgantown Dominion Post, July 31, 2013

A coalition of evangelical Christians concerned about the environment and good stewardship of the planet met in Morgantown on Tuesday to pray and share their message.

The Evangelical Environmental Network, out of Washington, D.C.; Blessed Earth, out of Kentucky; New Vision Renewable Energy, out of Philippi; and the Christian Community Development Association, out of Chicago, joined with about 90 local residents and pastors for the West Virginia Day of Prayer for Creation Care.

Stewardship involves responsible use of existing resources and energy supplies, and creative movement toward sustainable sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric. They opened the day with worship, prayer and messages at Chestnut Ridge Church, then moved to the solar-powered Storehouse of God community center atop Bertha Hill — overlooking Osage and Granville — for a tour, lunch and discussion.

“Creation care is really a matter of life,” Evangelical Environmental Network Communications Director Alexei Laushkin said. Water pollution, human health concerns, “and taking some common-sense steps toward carbon pollution, we think those can be nonpartisan issues. We think it’s time for the church to reclaim its role — that God’s people need to be stewards of creation.”

 The Storehouse of God is an example of what communities can do, said Noel Castellanos, of the Christian community Development Association. Instead of importing solutions to people, communities develop their own solutions and take ownership of their energy problems.

The Storehouse provides a variety of faith-based assistance services to the community. Its roof is topped with 16 solar panels. Director Johnny Whitehair showed how the electric meter works in two directions — moving one way when it pulls power off the grid, the other when it’s generating. Since August, the building has used 6,709 kilowatt hours (kWh), but 5,059 kWh of that has come from the panels. Another meter inside on the power inverter (which converts DC power to AC) shows the process has saved 5,789 pounds of carbon emissions.

 Another example, Castellanos said, is New Vision. It builds and sends solar panels around the world. It describes its mission as “developing the training and resources necessary to empower families and communities to go from energy consumers to energy producers.”

 Ruston Seaman, with New Vision, said people have lost a little bit of hope as they have looked to government or companies for answers. “The idea of teaching citizens to make their own energy — it’s a 21st century use of sunshine. We’re trying to help family-scale projects and community-based projects happen.”

The assembled organizations aren’t anti-coal or anti-fracking, Evangelical Environmental Network President and CEO Mitchell Hescox said. He’s the son of a miner and worked in the utility industry. But they are concerned about carbon emissions, air pollution and water pollution — particularly selenium and mercury. “I’m not opposed to coal. I just want to see it done in a way that’s responsible. … Too many times it’s been phrased as an anti-coal message. It’s not an anti-coal message, it’s a defending-our-kids message.” He said one in three children nationally suffer from environmentally based illnesses and allergies.

 “We ’re not environmentalists but disciples of Christ,” who created a sustainable world which sin marred. Environmental stewardship is “a pro-life creation-care issue. We’re here to mobilize the church to help them to see these issues of creation care are caring about God’s creation.

The Network sees great opportunities in clean coal research, Hescox said, and would like to see energy companies spend more money on research. It would like to see an end to energy subsidies and see American technology, ingenuity and dedicated workers exercise leadership and create a good market leading to jobs and continued innovation.

While Tuesday was about prayer, it was also about action, Hescox said. For Jesus, prayer always preceded action. They urge citizens to contact their lawmakers and to get involved in their communities.

Here and worldwide, power can help improve the world’s health and education. A stewardship model can pair “the right technology with the right kind of faith to empower people. It’s about getting smart and getting out of the old thoughts. We have to be together in a market-based way for a sustainable America” and planet Earth.

NOTE:  “I strongly urge the president and his team to rethink their reliance on natural gas, potentially the ‘fool’s gold’ of climate action”.  Rev. Jim Ball, Evangelical Environmental Network.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: