It’s Time to Stop Being an Individual!

It’s Time to Stop Being an Individual!

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It took a little more than 24 hours for hurricane Laura to feed off the unusually warm Gulf waters and intensify from category 1 to category 4. 
It took a little more than 10 days for lightning strikes to ignite more than 700 wildfires burning up acreage in California equivalent to the size of the state of Delaware. 
Almost every day there is an article in the morning news about glacial melt or ocean acidification or rollbacks in EPA regulations or the effect of fossil fuel particulates on communities affected by Covid or the drought that is wilting the cherry tree in my front yard.
 
It is hard not to get discouraged when the news is so often bad.  We live in a culture permeated by fossil fuels –  from the cars we drive to the produce in our refrigerator that has traveled further to reach our shelves than most people on this planet travel in a lifetime.  How can one individual make a difference up against the political and corporate forces that are determined to ignore the growing threat of the climate crisis? 
 
When asked “What is the best thing that an individual can do for the climate?”, the environmentalist Bill McKibben gave clear instructions.  He said it is time to “stop being an individual!”
 
If you have read this far, you are probably one of those people who has already signed the Creation Care Voter Pledge and committed  to vote your values and prioritize caring for God’s creation in how you vote in local, state and national elections. If not, consider taking that pledge right now.  Our partners at the Environmental Voter Project will nudge you with reminders about upcoming elections, because reminding someone of their pledge to vote can dramatically increase their likelihood of voting.
 
But if you have read this far, you also realize that one vote is not enough.  We need a movement to turn the tide on the climate crisis.  The Environmental Ministries Team of the Southern New England Conference knows that the Creation Care Voter Pledge is only a first step.  Now is the time to “stop being an individual.”   
 
That is why the Environmental Ministries Team urges you to join with others in your congregation to “accept” the Congregation Climate Justice Voter Challenge and commit to mobilizing 75% of those worshipping with you to sign on to the Creation Care Voter Pledge.  You can find plenty of resources at sneucc.org/creation-care-voter-pledge.  Take the challenge, set your goal and then spread the word through lawn signs and social media and letters to the editor and any other vehicle you can come up with.  Inspire your congregation to reach out to their families and neighbors and networks to invite them to make the same commitment.
 
Our congregations are community influencers.  It doesn’t feel that way right now with our buildings empty and our programs stalled. Yet one thing that this terrible Covid pandemic has taught us is that we are connected in ways that we rarely realize.  The virus has taken advantage of those connections with devastating consequences, but we can use those same connections to one another to reverse the spiral of the climate crisis, if we can “stop being individuals” and work together to create a future where all can thrive in this world that God made.
 
The Rev. Victoria Alford Guest 

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The Rev. Victoria Alford Guest

The Rev. Victoria Alford Guest is a member of the SNEUCC Environmental Ministries Team and former pastor of the First Congregational Church in Natick, MA.

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