From September 1 through October 4 (St. Francis Day), Christians world-wide are observing the Season of Creation: a time to show reverence for all God has made. Churches will hold Animal Blessings, take experiential learning trips, and study our role as caretakers of God’s creation. Global religious leaders such as Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and General Secretary of the World Council of Churches Olav Tveit are urging Christians to devote this time to thanking God for creation and repenting for ways we have neglected, defiled, and polluted our world.
During this season, Congress goes back in session. Senator Heller, Senator Cortez Masto, Rep. Titus, Rep. Amodei. Rep. Rosen, and Rep. Kihuen will face many challenges in the weeks ahead particularly in the budget appropriations process. I am watching closely to see how each member of our Nevada Congressional delegation uses his or her power to care for God’s creation.
In Genesis, God calls into being the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and beasts of the earth. God declares it all good, then entrusts his good creation to our care. When earthly life is threatened by flood, God instructs Noah to ensure every type of creature can enter the Ark, two by two, so all species would continue life on Earth.
The Endangered Species Act is one of the most important policies Americans have adopted to safeguard the ongoing life of God’s creatures. This year, some members of Congress are pushing for harmful fundamental changes to this bedrock environmental law.
For 40 years, the Endangered Species Act has ensured that decisions about species protection lie in the hands of scientists charged with preventing extinction, rather than politicians. Proposed changes would ignore science and exclude scientists from the conversation. The Endangered Species Act has saved hundreds of species from extinction, including the bald eagle, the humpback whale and the peregrine falcon. The Act has also been effective at pulling many species back from the brink of extinction; 29 species have made such significant recoveries that they have been taken off the list of endangered species. It also safeguards special places, ensuring that our children and grandchildren continue to enjoy our God-given natural heritage.
Legislation to undermine the Endangered Species Act, delay or withhold funding for species recovery efforts, or to de-list species for political rather than scientific reasons undermines our obligation to be faithful stewards. In a time when one in six species are threatened or endangered, we must act with courage. This Season of Creation, may our Members of Congress show respect for our Creator through their actions to care for God’s creation.
Dan Edwards has served for 9 years as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada. He is the author of God of Our Silent Tears and Three Stories: Perspectives On Practicing Law And Christianity At The Same Time. In Nevada, he has been active with Clergy And Laity United For Economic Justice, Nevadans For the Common Good, Bread for the World, and Creation Justice Ministries.
Hear Bishop Dan talk more about the Endangered Species Act in this video: