“The Pope’s words were powerful, convicting and prophetic,” she said.

But she’s not sure how much impact they will have on faith communities that don’t see the environment as a cause.

“My sense is that most churches either care about environmental issues, or they don’t,” she said. “Whether they don’t buy the science, or they don’t see it as a matter of faith, some congregations just don’t see their role in the conversation. In those places, I doubt that the Pope’s word carries much weight to begin with.”

Watthen said Saint Andrew Christian Church plans on incorporating the Pope’s call to action into events they had already planned to have, such as an adult education series on water and a “plastic bag refusal” campaign.

“For those of us already engaged in Earth stewardship, my hope is that we will hear (the Pope’s) powerful words as a challenge to greater urgency in our efforts,” she said.

Learn more about Saint Andrew Christian Church at www.sacchome.org.

Crossroads Church

Jeanette Metzler, a member of the Green Team at Crossroads Church in the Waldo area, is excited to see what comes from the Pope’s encyclical and thinks the Pope’s words will empower others.

“I really think people will change,” she said. “The fact that it’s coming from a non-political person and the angle that he is coming from will help. Hopefully it can move (the topic of conserving the environment) from a political tension and into a new conversation.”

Crossroads Church already has taken several steps to reduce its environmental impact, including installing solar panels on the roof and planting a rain garden. Even though it is a small community of about 80 people, Metzler said, they all feel a strong passion toward the environment.

“There’s a lot of people in our church that felt they were called to do more for the environment,” she said.

Metzler said the church is planning a new activity where each person in the congregation is asked to calculate their carbon footprint, and then they will calculate a total congregation footprint. The Green Team will then provide everyone with resources and ideas on how to reduce their impact on the environment.

Visit Crossroads Church’s website at www.crossroadschurchkc.org.

Heartland Presbytery

Diane Waddell, moderator for Earthkeepers (the Green Team) of Heartland Presbytery, an organization that connects Presbyterian churches in Kansas and Missouri, said she is grateful for the Pope’s words.

“Particularly noteworthy is his emphasis on tending/tilling and keeping the garden/Earth as central to an ideology of ‘integral ecology,’” she said. “This urges us to tend and keep our fragile home planet through a sense of what is moral and just.”

She said the regional Presbyterian Eco-Justice Committee is preparing a response and action plan to the encyclical. Waddell said she hopes it will be sent to the national organization.

“We need to stop and re-evaluate who we truly are as fellow human beings and as creatures who share the planet; since what we share now will be a part of our legacy and will hugely affect the future of Earth,” she said.

Visit Heartland Presbytery’s website at www.heartlandpby.org.

Feature photo from Wikimedia Creative Commons.

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