| Eco-Justice Ministries
Eco-Justice: "the well-being of all humankind on a thriving Earth"
Quick Tips for Including Eco-Justice
Worship is the central and defining act of the church. What we say and do during times of worship reveals what we consider most important to our faith and our lives.
It is the experience of Eco-Justice Ministries that environmental and eco-justice commitments are only taken seriously in the whole life of the church when those commitments are present in the ongoing worship of the congregation.
These quick tips provide some starting points for exploring how faithful worship can nurture and express an eco-justice faith perspective.
Draw on the strengths of your tradition and your setting
Christian worship takes a multitude of different forms. We worship differently in cathedrals than we do in chapels. Episcopal and Baptist services are different in structure and style. A charismatic congregation expects something different from a more academic church.
Know your people, your tradition and your setting, and use the best of what it has to offer as you open your people to an eco-justice perspective. A liturgical church might make creative use of a ritual for confession and healing, where a congregation from a free church tradition would do better with a sermon series.
Frequently affirm God's love for all creation
Stretch your language, and stretch people's theology. The words that are used in the everyday leading of worship shape how we understand ourselves, our relationship with God, and with the world. (See our Eco-Justice Lexicon for shadings of meaning between terms such as nature, the environment and the creation.)
Try to include an explicit reference to God's love for all of creation in every service of worship -- in a prayer, the sermon, a responsive reading.
Preach on many levels
Sometimes, it is important to preach prophetically on an issue where decisive moral matters are at stake. But there are other ways of bringing an eco-justice perspective into sermons.
Let an eco-justice perspective bubble up frequently in your preaching. An article on this site, Three Layers of Environmental Preaching, explores several ways of preaching to the issues, ranging from prophetic proclamation on political issues to depth pastoral preaching on emotional needs.
Too often, the prayers of the church are focused exclusively on matters of personal need. In worship, the church can extend its prayers to encompass a larger sphere.
If members of your congregation are invited to voice prayer concerns, encourage them to name not only people, but also issues and the needs of the world.
Read scripture with fresh eyes
A long history of reading the Bible as a story concerned exclusively with humans has blinded us to much of the biblical message. Throughout the Bible, the love of God for all of the creation is proclaimed; the need to deal justly with humans and the rest of creation are intertwined responsibilities.
As you work with texts from scripture:
Recognize the power of music
Music touches us in a different way than the spoken or written word. A tune stirs emotions and opens our creative, intuitive side. The words to an anthem, a hymn or a sung response enter our consiciousness with a special sort of power and effect.
Draw the musical elements of your service into play as you work with an eco-justice perspective. Both contemporary compositions and those that have been used for generations can help to strengthen and inform our spirit.
Use special occasions
Many occasions through the year provide appropriate opportunities to develop a worship theme that takes eco-justice seriously.
Draw on the visual arts
Along with words and music, the visual arts can expand and deepen the worship experience. Look for ways to bring new images into your congregation's worship.