World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Message on the occasion of Earth Day

22 April 1999

Sent by the General Secretary to North American churches, 22 April 1999.

I greet you warmly in the name of the World Council of Churches on the occasion of Earth Day, 1999.

Caring for the well-being of God's creation has become a significant dimension of Christian discipleship in our times. Our eyes have been opened to the biblical imperatives to live in just relationships with all life and our spirits have been enlivened by the witness of many indigenous peoples and women who often are the ones living with the closest connections to the Earth.

Threats to the health of the planet are inter-related with sources of injustice against many members of the human community. Global economic forces and gross inequities in consumption levels leave vast numbers of humanity without the basics for a decent quality of life while enriching the privileged minority far beyond their needs. The challenge is to find ways in which human communities can live in a sustainable relationship with creation with all people enjoying the fullness of life.

At the global level, we are concerned by the apparent erosion of momentum for the spirit and agreements that emerged from the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Churches can play an important role in reinvigorating public support and protesting against the trend toward giving greater precedence to economic and trade interests over environment and development priorities.

The WCC commends your efforts as churches to strive toward individual and collective lifestyles which will be in closer harmony with creation and your participation in broader societal efforts to counter the sources of injustice against the Earth and the poor. Particularly encouraging for us in the World Council of Churches is to see how many of these initiatives are ecumenical and increasingly inter-faith. It is my prayer that the energy you bring to Earth Day be sustained throughout the year.