We firmly believe that addressing the degradation of God's sacred Earth is the moral assignment of our time, comparable to the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s, the worldwide movement to achieve equality for women, or ongoing efforts to control weapons of mass destruction in a post-Hiroshima world. — From the National Council of Churches Open Letter to Church and Society in the United States, February 2005
Brad Hirst, pastor of the Second Christian Congregational Church of Kittery, Maine, rummages through trashcans for recyclable bottles, cans, glass, and discarded bulletins. He is critical of SUVs and suggests paying more for renewable power, even when the church budget is tight. He knows that global warming contributed to the severity of Hurricane Katrina by super-heating the Gulf waters. So, although pleased with his church's compassionate financial response to the ravaged Gulf Coast, he feels it's his pastoral duty to help his congregation recognize the connection between lifestyle choices in Maine that contribute to global warming and the lives of the marginalized in Louisiana.
Raising a congregation's environmental consciousness is a slow process. Hirst feels only partially prepared—yet he has more experience with this issue than most church leaders.