Southwest Missouri Climate Crisis Campaign
My name is Cheryl Marcum and I am the first United Methodist EarthKeeper in the Missouri Conference! I have been a member of Stockton United Methodist Church since I was 14, absentee for about three decades while my husband, Mitch Ross, now Southwest District lay leader, served on active duty in the U.S. Army.
Our God of all creation is full of surprises! Twelve years ago while living happily in Alexandria, Va., Mitch and I did the unthinkable when we answered God’s audacious call to build and move into an energy efficient solar home on the farm where I grew up in rural Cedar County, Missouri!
I was born with a vocation of creation care, but I mostly denied God’s persistent call until 2012. Soon after we moved to Cedar County, I felt God calling me to lead a creation care ministry at my home church, Stockton United Methodist. I didn’t know what that was or even if there was such a thing in the United Methodist Church. God persisted, and I resisted for five years by actively leading other more traditional ministries in my church instead, until 2012, when I finally surrendered, “Here am I. Send me.” I have been leading our active creation care ministry for six years.
In 2016, I heard about a new EarthKeepers ministry through the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) and I didn’t resist, I immediately applied to become a United Methodist EarthKeeper. This new EarthKeepers program recognizes that God calls some people to be caretakers of the Earth, of God’s creation. It helps them make the connections between faith and action.
I attended the six days of training in August 2017, at Mount Sequoyah Retreat and Conference Center, Fayetteville, Ark. It bathed my weary soul with denominational affirmation that creation care is a cornerstone of discipleship. I am grateful to the GBGM for the opportunity to study creation care theology and to discern God’s call on my life to speak boldly and act decisively to disrupt our global climate crisis. The training strengthened my confidence and hardened my resolve.
Through prayerful discernment, each EarthKeeper-in-training chooses and designs a creation care project as a follow-up application to their week of training and commits to devote 10 hours per month to accomplish that project. I resisted the climate crisis project God placed in my heart, until I accepted that resistance was futile.
My project, southwest Missouri climate crisis campaign, is based on this premise. God dedicated us, human beings, to care for—to help renew—his creation which he called, “good.” God requires us to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. Yet, early in the 21st Century, do our United Methodist churches in our Southwest District present themselves to their community as God’s stewards for renewing his good creation, as disciples committed to climate justice?
God entrusted the care of our planet to us. Our mindless, excessive carbon emissions dangerously disrupt Earth’s climate systems, eco-systems, and the lives of our “neighbors” around the globe. As our Council of Bishops wrote in 2009, “We must begin the work of renewing creation by being renewed in our own hearts and minds. We cannot help the world until we change our way of being in it.” We
must choose a lifestyle that transforms culturally acceptable, environmentally irresponsible choices into creation-respecting choices that bring about climate justice for all who suffer from our excessive carbon emissions. Climate justice means setting right our relationships with each other, with God, and with the Earth.
I am counting on God to open doors that I cannot. My job is to speak boldly and act decisively to disrupt our global climate crisis. I am stepping out in faith to initiate the conversation in our churches about our climate crisis, to make the connections between our faith and decisive actions we can take to disrupt it.
Our God of all creation is full of surprises. I just need (1) to share my personal climate crisis witness with people in 10 churches in our district, and (2) each of 10 churches in our district to enact one new ongoing climate action by December 31.
I intend my personal witness to reflect God’s love for and presence throughout his creation. To count, a new climate action must communicate to the community served by the church that this body of Christ takes seriously God’s call to care for—to help renew—his good creation. The process for each church introduces the people to creation care theology and leads them to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, a small step towards climate justice. Is God opening the door for your church to be one of the 10?
For more information, contact me at my email or landline, (417) 276-2501.