North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light works with faith communities to address the causes and consequences of global climate change and promotes practical, hope-filled responses through education, outreach, and public policy advocacy.
“First, welcome to United Church of Chapel Hill and the NC’s Public Citizen’s Hearing on EPA’s Clean Power Plants Rules. We are glad we could assist your hosts this evening: NC Interfaith Power & Light, Clean Air Carolina, Environment NC, National Wildlife Federation, and Sierra Club NC Chapter.
Two of the world’s faith traditions have used the words of Psalm 24 over three millennium: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” Please note that the psalmist does not say, and the mountaintop view or the waterfall, or the glorious sunrise or the transcendent sunset, but the fullness thereof. The injunction and command given to people of biblical faith to be stewards of creation is for the fullness thereof and not just the parts we fence off in a national park.
The earth in all its fullness was initially able to dissipate the harm, the shadow side, of generating power but as our appetite for power has grown exponentially so has the release of carbon and it has overwhelmed the earth’s ability to dissipate the harm. Just as the earth warms triggering extreme weather reactions, human lungs unable to dissipate harmful pollution react with respiratory disease and heart troubles.
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Too often when this verse used it is illustrated with Hubble pictures of distant galaxies or blown up pictures of cells, Niagara Falls, the hoodoo rock formations, autumn leaves, glistening snow banks; but the fullness thereof also includes clean air for and the healthy lungs of laughing children and grandparents.
This is why the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is important. As co-Creators, which is what it means to be entrusted with the stewardship of creation, it is up to us to act. We have the ability and the moral responsibility of being good stewards to reduce our carbon pollution. If we believe that the earth – and the fullness thereof – is the Lord’s, it is time to act.
One more point, the other key of the Clean Power Plan is that it creates a goal and a strategy for a community, they that dwell therein – to use the words of the psalmist. By myself or you by yourself, are not going to make it possible to reduce carbon by 30% over the next 15 years but collectively we can. For example, the faith community that resides in this building is currently planning to add solar panels next year with the goal of generating 50% of our electrical needs with renewable energy. It is a collective action that many of us are watching and hoping to learn from so it can be duplicated on a smaller scale in our homes. There is solace and encouragement in having common and achievable goals, a strategy that we can adjust as we go. We are better together for we are “they that dwell therein.”
Thank you and, again, welcome.”
Rev. Richard Edens, Co-Senior Pastor
United Church of Chapel Hill
July 22, 2014