Coming Back to the Center: Environmental Stewardship

Posted on May 29, 2012 by mikkamccracken

As I’ve discussed here before, I am a student of political science and peace studies. What I have most valued from that formation is the practice of learning the foundations and tools for analysis and then applying them to the social justice issues. I might describe this as a web— the concepts and analysis tools form the strands while issues rest in different places on the web.

One topic in the web is environmental stewardship and creation care. Of all the issues, this is certainly one in my web, but not closest to me. Perhaps I touched it through a reading of Sally McFague’s, Super, natural Christians, though admittedly on my way to a eco-feminist narrative, but it has never sat in a central location for me.

However, last week I was invited to offer a testimony through the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice working group on behalf of the NCC and the ELCA. The NCC mobilized faith leaders to testify at both the hearing inWashingtonDC and in Chicago.

Currently, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding hearings on a new proposed carbon pollution rule. This proposed action is designed to help minimize carbon pollution through standards for new power plants. You are welcome to submit your written comments through the process outlined here. You can also participate through our ELCA e-advocacy network, as well.

Mikka McCracken, The Rev. Dr. Clare Butterfield, The Rev. Myriam Renaud

At first, it was a bit challenging to get my head back around, but by the end, I was proudly testifying as a person of faith next to a United Church of Christ Pastor Myriam Renaud and the Rev. Dr. Clare Butterfield, director of Faith in Place and the Illinois Interfaith Power & Light Campaign—both past ELCA World Hunger funded programs. This is not simply “another issue” that sits on the periphery, but one that has been drawn back towards my center as part of the holistic work we do for health and wholeness for all.

The text for my testimony can be found below—thanks to our colleague Audrey for her keen editorial assistance! You can also read the NCC’s news release article or the Interfaith Power & Light article for more information.

Good morning. My name is Mikka McCracken, and I represent the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the National Council of Churches USA. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America– the ELCA — is the largest Lutheran denomination in theUS, with more than 10,000 congregations and 4.2 million members. This church is a member of the National Council of Churches, a group of 37 Christian denominations, 100,000 congregations, and more than 45 million people.

Specifically, I serve as a program director with ELCA World Hunger and ELCA Disaster Response. Every year, these related ministries mobilize almost $30 million and countless congregational leaders to make a difference in the lives of families and communities in more than 50 countries, including theUnited States.

As people of faith, we are called to serve as stewards of God’s good creation and to seek justice for those who are hungry, poor, and marginalized. With that call in mind, we speak in support and are particularly thankful for two parts of the proposal before us today:

First, your analysis shows no increase in the price of electricity as a result of this proposal. This is an important piece and will protect families and communities as they work to recover from the economic downturn.

Second, the proposed rule will diminish the carbon output of future power plants. Studies have linked carbon dioxide emissions to increased respiratory illness among children, the elderly, people of color, and people living in poverty. The proposed standard will mean hope for better health among the vulnerable.

Carbon dioxide also contributes to global climate change. We in ELCA World Hunger know that climate change has already begun to affect agriculture in the US and around the world, endangering food security for the people of our nation and all members of the global family. As climate change continues, our work to end hunger and extreme poverty will become ever more necessary – and more challenging.

If you remember anything from my time before you today, remember that Lutherans care and Lutherans make a difference. Lutherans offered the first cups of water to refugees in the Horn of Africa region at the Dadaab camp inKenya—a camp managed by Lutherans. Lutherans, through our Lutheran social service agencies, reach 1 in every 50 Americans each year. But we cannot do it alone. With the EPA’s systemic level help to enact rules that will reduce carbon emissions, we can do more — together.

In the words of Psalm 100, verse 5: “For the Lord is good; The Lord’s steadfast love endures forever, and the Lord’s faithfulness to all generations.”

By ensuring that future power plants will have reduced carbon footprints, you will help protect the most vulnerable and care for God’s good creation for generations to come.

We encourage you to enact the strongest possible rule.

Thank you for your service, and thank you for the opportunity to speak to you on behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the National Council of Churches.

Mikka serves as program director for constituent engagement and interpretation with ELCA World Hunger. To join the network and for more information on how you can get involved, write us at hunger@elca.org.

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