Celebrating God's Creation Ministry
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral
On February 24, 2019
Speech given by Larry Dieker
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is known as the “Green Patriarch” because he has been outspoken in his assertion that celebrating God's creation is a central mission and responsibility of the church and for us as Orthodox Christians. Patriarch Bartholomew has called the contamination of the Earth a sin. The destruction of the environment is a sin.
The United States is the second largest contributor of CO2 emissions, though home to less than 5% of the world's population. Greenhouse gases like CO2 trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere and warm the planet. The amount of CO2 is now higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years, and the effects on people, wildlife, and the planet are well-documented. Oceans are heating up, glaciers are shrinking, and sea levels are rising. Coral reefs are dying. Species are vanishing. Temperatures are breaking records around the world. The forecast for the next century includes food shortages, global flooding, extreme weather conditions, and climate refugees on a shocking scale.
In October, the United Nation's climate change report said the prognosis for the planet was grim. We may have as little as 12 years to act. Patriarch Bartholomew has been blunt in rooting out the cause. Our insatiable desire and greed have alienated us from the original purpose of creation. "[W]hile it is clear that the ecological crisis is constantly escalating in the name of growth and development, humanity remains oblivious to the global appeals for radical change in our attitudes toward creation."
International meetings seem to achieve little. Our government is wary of top-down mandates. Corporations are bound by their nature to pursue profit. So the solution may come down to people working at local levels, reaching out to others similarly situated. In other words, the solution may rest with us.
And this is terrifying.
It's easier to be complacent than to act.
It’s easier to enjoy our way of life than to sacrifice.
It’s easier to shut our eyes to greed and exploitation than to accept responsibility.
I am guilty of all these sins.
While seventy percent of people believe climate change is happening, perhaps only one-third discuss the issue, and far fewer get involved.
Our Ecumenical Patriarch sees the world with clear eyes, acknowledges the science, and demands of us the hard choices in line with our Christian ethics, responding not out of fear but out of love for all creation. A major faith and a major undertaking, starting with us, right here, right now.
In response to the call from His All-Holy Ecumenical Patriarch, Celebrating God's Creation was formed here at this cathedral to help spread the good news that the Earth is the Lord's, a gift to us and to future generations, to be shared not exploited.
And we need you.
If you’ve studied environmental issues in school or dealt with them at work or if you’ve ever had any concern about the air we breathe or the water we drink, plastics in our oceans, waste in our landfills, or our reliance on fossil fuels;
If your heart aches when you read about the effects of climate change on the poorest of the poor, or you wonder about the kind of world you may be leaving to your children and grandchildren, we need you.
We need your experience, your knowledge, your passion, your ideas, your ingenuity, your hope and your faith and your love.
There are no easy answers. Climate change has pushed the Earth into "uncharted territory." In a very real respect, we are in a foreign land with dangers on every side, not sure exactly where we are going or how we'll get there, and we need every one of your 10,000 hearts, minds, and talents to get back home.
We need you to do your part in your home, in your school, in your workplace, and with us here at the cathedral. If there are other Greek Orthodox churches making progress, we want to learn from them and grow as a community. If there are other faith-based communities, we want to work with them. We want our actions to inspire and our collective voice to be heard. But we can't do it without you.
Please take a minute this week to contact us through the website at CelebratingGodsCreation.com. Please come to the next meeting. Please seek out more information from Presvytera Evengeline Baron, Helen Rankin, or Diane Chakalis. Come and see what others are doing, come to inspire and to be inspired, to teach and to learn and to pray, because it may all come down to us, right here, right now, answering the call to action for the greater glory of God.
Printed by permission of Larry Dieker