Dr. Musa Dube, Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Candler School of Theology, offers the message to attendees of the Earth Day Vigil for Creation. Photo by Patrick Scriven (PNW) for WJ Communications.

By Kristen Caldwell, WJ Communications

With lament and gratitude, General Conference attendees honored Earth Day with song, prayers, and candles at First United Methodist Church in Charlotte.

As global warming melts ice caps and fires ravage forested areas and drought bleeds African crops dry, it was a fitting moment to stop and recognize humanity’s impact on Mother Earth. 

The United Methodist Creation Justice Movement hosted the worship service along with the General Board of Global Ministries, Love Your Neighbor Coalition, United Women in Faith, and the General Board of Church and Society.

Ragghi Rain Calentine, Eastern Cherokee and Chair of The UMC’s Native American International Caucus shares her gift of storytelling with participants of the Earth Day Vigil for Creation. Photo by Patrick Scriven (PNW) for the Western Jurisdiction.

“A theology of lament is not the same as a theology of hopelessness,” said Dr. Musa Dube, guest preacher for the event.

Dube serves as distinguished professor of New Testament at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. She grew up in Botswana and spoke Monday night about the experience of appreciating the land that gave her family crops to eat and water to nourish those crops.

Referencing the first three days of creation in Genesis and the story in Mark 4:35-40 where Jesus calms the storm, Dube said it is a biblical duty of followers of Christ to weep with Mother Earth and repent. We are called to act with humanity and justice.

“We are surrounded by the awesomeness of God through, and because of, creation,” Dube said.

Storyteller Ragghi Rain Calentine, a member of the Eastern Band Cherokee Indians and current chair of The United Methodist Church’s Native American International Caucus, shared a story passed down through her ancestors about the animal and the plant. She told how they worked in harmony until the animal thought itself superior and pulled the plant out of the ground, only to mourn the loss. The animal shed its tears, which seeped into the roots and helped the plant grow anew.

“The most powerful among us are the ones who give freely,” said Calentine. The event concluded with attendees moving outside to sing and pray together on the steps of the church, holding candles as the night had arrived.

Toward the end of the Earth Day Vigil for Creation, participants proceeded outside of the church to sing and witness for creation. Photo by Patrick Scriven (PNW) for the Western Jurisdiction.

United Methodist Creation Justice Movement is supporting several pieces of legislation that deal with everything from sustainable practices for Annual Conference sessions to food and water safety to reduction of fossil fuels.

Learn more about UMC Creation Justice at their website, www.umcreationjustice.org.

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