Earth Church Manifesto
Earth Church is a collective of people wanting to follow Jesus and care for the environment.
Matter matters. The bible describes the material world as being the work of God, loved by God and filled with God’s grace and goodness. In the Christian tradition, Jesus is understood to have embodied God’s reality and the stories of his death and resurrection speak of the immersion of God in the suffering of the world and of hope of new life. The bible portrays Jesus risen from the dead bearing the scars of his suffering in a physical flesh-and-blood body. Matter matters.
There has been a danger through the history of Christianity of placing too much emphasis on the spiritual and not enough on the material, sometimes to the point of de-valuing the material world. A church that is pre-occupied with the spiritual has little basis to critique a culture that commodifies everything at great cost to plants, animals and human poor, even though concern for the oppressed and the poorest featured prominently in the teaching of Jesus. We need a renewed understanding of God’s compassion for the whole of the world, and we believe that this can be found in the person and teaching of Jesus Christ.
The world is suffering like never before in human history. Climate change is bringing us to the brink of enormous upheavals of loss, migration and mass extinction. Where are the followers of Jesus speaking up for justice, hope and life in the face of climate change? We need Earth Church.
In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew’s gospel, chapters 5-7) Jesus challenged his culture and gave good news to those being crushed by it. The eight sayings that open the Sermon challenge us and point us to good news:
Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.’
We aren’t here to accuse others, to wallow in guilt or to hide in despair. We don’t have the answers but we will ask the questions and explore a way to God’s kingdom with whatever companions are also on that journey and we will travel as light as we can.
Jesus said, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.’
We will face with courage and honesty the loss we are experiencing in these days of crisis. We will seek solidarity with the suffering, hear and tell stories that give voice to the voiceless and search for language with which to speak the unspeakable.
Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.’
We reject power and domination and instead seek to follow the servant-example of Jesus. In so doing, we hope to challenge the idea that the earth belongs to the strong and the cunning. We hold out hope that God will raise up the humble poor and they will inherit the earth.
Jesus said, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.’
Righteousness is often paired with justice in the bible. We will commit ourselves to seeking justice for all living beings, in our own daily choices and in the wider systems of society. We will refuse to be content with where the compromise falls, but will remain hungry for justice until all beings flourish together in peace.
Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.’
We were raised in fear through a narrative of scarcity, but we now choose to believe in a God of abundance, whose mercy is new every morning. Trusting God, we will seek to live generously and joyfully, keeping short accounts both with our own grudges and with those we have hurt, so that we will learn not to fear but to love.
Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.’
We will form a community of grace, love and accountability, in which we support and challenge each other to stay true.
Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’
We will avoid adopting the same divisive thought framework that has broken the world apart in the first place. While aligning ourselves against the dominant socio-economic system of our culture, we will align ourselves for people and seek the alignment of all beings with the love of God. We will seek to act now by the values of the world we hope to see: a world of grace, peace and love for all.
Jesus said, ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’
As long as some humans are persecuting other humans, as well as animals and plants, we are prepared to suffer too for their sake as we follow Jesus, the suffering servant of God. We are not seeking success, honour, status or reward and we will not cling to such things. We would rather be outsiders following Jesus than insiders within a socio-economic system that is profoundly anti-Christ.
Jesus said, ‘Follow me.’
The journey has already begun. Come and walk alongside us.
Follow us at @earthchurchURC