PC(USA) EARTH CARE POLICY

Collaborative Agenda on Environmental Stewardship. This document is designed to call attention to ongoing efforts by the PC(USA) to confront the underlying causes of climate change, and to resources available through the six agencies to congregations, mid councils, and other mission and ministry groups wishing to join in the effort.

Summary of PC(USA) environmental policy from Environmental Ministries that includes excerpts from “Restoring Creation for Ecology and Justice” and links to “Social Witness Policy Compilation,” “Carbon Neutral Policy,” and “The Power to Change.”

PRESBYTERIAN POLICIES AND STATEMENTS 1951-2018

Past denominational statements (Presbyterian Church USA, United Presbyterian Church USA, Presbyterian Church US) 1951-2003 – from Creation Justice Ministries

PC(USA) Environment and Energy Policy Brief. Presbyterian General Assemblies have been speaking on issues of environmental protection and justice since the late 1960s. Their witness ranges broadly from drinking water safety and acid rain, to protecting endangered species, to cleaning up dirty power plants, to climate change and U.S. energy policy. The Assemblies’ major policy statements on environment were in 1971 and 1990, and on energy in 1981.

Presbyterian Social Witness Policy Compilation. The Presbyterian Social Witness Policy Compilation is a compendium of social witness policies adopted by the General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its predecessor denominations.  The Presbyterian Social Witness Policy Compilation presents each policy statement, resolution, or commissioners’ resolution in groups of similar actions. Listed below are those that pertain to caring for God’s creation.
The Precautionary Principle: Managing Technological Risks to Protect Humanity and our Planet (2018) = download
Limited Water Resources (2004)
Globalization and Environment (2003)
We are What We Eat (2002)

The Power to Speak Truth to Power. A Public Policy Statement on Energy, Its Production and Use, Adopted by the 121st (1981) General Assembly, Presbyterian Church in the U.S., and by the 193rd General Assembly, United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., with a Background Analysis, by Robert L. Stivers. Commended for Study in Connection with the Public Policy Statement.

Restoring Creation for Ecology and Justice. Adopted by the 202nd General Assembly (1990), “Restoring Creation for Ecology and Justice” was the first major PC(USA) policy to address environmental concerns. It provides a thoughtful review of the deteriorating ecology of the entire world at the time, and also provides guidance for ways in which churches and individuals could participate in God’s redemption of the creation. Includes the Call to Restore Creation.

Hazardous Waste, Race, and the Environment. The 1995 General Assembly approved this resolution that amends the 1990 Restoring Creation policy, calling for advocacy on environmental justice concerns on behalf of and with the poor and people of color and the development of public policies that result in reducing the generation of hazardous wastes and reduction in the use of these substances.

Hope For A Global Future: Toward Just And Sustainable Human Development. The 208th General Assembly (1996) approved this policy statement that gives renewed definition to Presbyterian understandings of the way in which we are called to be stewards of God’s creation, touching upon issues of economic justice for all persons, concerns about population, and ecological degradation. It calls for a renewed emphasis on the Reformed norm of frugality and presents the norm of sufficiency, so that all may participate with abundant living in caring communities that are less materialistic and more frugal. It includes a study and action guide for personal and class use.

A Call to Halt Mass Extinction (2001) In response to this crisis, the Presbyterian Church states: “The Creator-Deliverer calls human communities to work with God to rectify the abuses whereby human impacts upon the Earth are leading to a mass extinction of living species. This mass extinction would fundamentally alter and undermine the life and well-being of the humans and other creatures that survive. It would rob all future generations of the gifts of wholeness and diversity that God intends.”

On Cleaning Up Power Plant Pollution (2002) In 2002, the 214th General Assembly expanded to past policy addressing the issues of pollution damaging to God’s creation by adopting a resolution ‚On Cleaning Up Power Plant Pollution? which asked ‚all Presbyterians to exercise stewardship by urging government officials to support federal policies and multi pollutant legislation that will, in the most cost-efficient way, enforce current clean air laws by federal and state governments; resist efforts to abolish or undercut established clean air programs; enact new clean air laws for power plants that will substantially reduce pollutants that cause smog, acid rain, respiratory disease, mercury contamination, and global warming; end the ‘grandfather’ loophole that exempts older coal-fired plants, and encourage federal funding of technologies that will facilitate and/or reduce the cost of implementing these recommendations.? (Minutes, 2002, pp. 598-9)

Guide to Going Carbon Neutral. The Resolution for Presbyterians to Live Carbon Neutral Lives was approved by the 217th General Assembly in 2006. This policy called on the PC(USA) to prepare a working paper about personal responsibility and carbon neutrality, including concrete action steps for Presbyterians to take to reduce their energy consumption. This is that working paper.

The Power to Change – U.S. Energy Policy and Global Warming. This policy, approved by the 218th General Assembly (2008), is the first major update of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s energy policy in more than 27 years. This General Assembly policy offers moral guidance and provides practical steps individual Presbyterians, groups and communities may take to change unhealthy energy practices to ensure that there is an abundant supply of God’s good energy for future generations of the whole creation to enjoy.

2010 Recommendation on Uplifting the Call to Restore Creation. On the 20th anniversary of the 219th General Assembly’s adoption of the 1990 Restoring Creation for Ecology and Justice policy, the General Assembly (2010) reaffirmed its findings, celebrated what it had spawned in the life of the church, and recommitted to the calling that remains as valid and necessary as it was in 1990.

PC(USA) Letter to President Barack Obama on Climate Change (2015) Signed by national and state-level faith leaders, requests an agreement at the 2015 UN Climate Change conference in Paris that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and development of low carbon technologies to assist vulnerable populations.

Affirmation of Creation (2016) This recommendation states “By virtue of the powers of intellect and creativity called forth in us by God, we bear exceptional responsibility for the future of the Earth and all its constitutive creatures.”

Statement on Climate Change from Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson (2018) In response to a 2018 United Nations report on climate change that could mean intensified drought and poverty, leading to food shortages and wildfires among other problems, PC(USA) Stated Clerk J Herbert Nelson calls for bold action from churches and communities.