One of the things that attracted me and has continually kept me connected to The United Methodist church over these many years are the Social Principles stated in the United Methodist Social Creed. I believe that they have made a positive difference in our world and in our lives. The Methodist Episcopal Church was the first denomination to adopt a social creed in 1908. And it was in 1972, four years after the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church united, that The United Methodist Church adopted its first Social Principles. These principles have been revised and rewritten at many General Conferences over the years to better reflect the caring and needs of our world today and into the future.
When I have had the opportunity to spend time with those who are joining our church family, I take great pride in introducing them to just a few of our Social Principles and discussing how they affect us in the living of our lives as United Methodists. I find our conversations enlightening, stimulating and inspirational.
These principles are not binding laws of the church, instead the Social Principles represent the prayerful and earnest efforts of our church to speak to the issues in the current world in which we live. They have been created from a sound biblical and theological foundation that is in keeping with the best of our United Methodist traditions.
Community of All Creation
Emphasizing that God declares all creation to be good, we are always reminded as United Methodists that we are responsible to be good stewards to care for the earth and all that is in and upon it. At times, we must understand from where we speak and engage those around us. We live in a farming community which is tasked in providing those basic essentials to keep us nourished and alive. A few years ago, our church was placed in a difficult position. Our Social Principles express a concern
for the humane treatment of all creation, believing that animals raised for human consumption should be provided with healthy living conditions and sufficient food and water. With the building of a CAFO just over the hill from our church, we expressed concern for our environment, the animals raised there, the need for our neighbors to earn a modest living from their resources and to provide for the larger need to feed our world. While it is early in the life of the CAFO, we have reserved judgement on how it has affected us, and our neighbor’s lives.
Many years ago, our Conference had a huge debate about bottled water. A large packing facility with deep wells was developed and established in one of our Michigan communities. This business met the requirements of the state, employed many local citizens, and contributed positively to the economic needs of the community. Yet the possible depletion of the underground water supply, the increase of plastic use and the disposal of plastic containers was an environmental concern. In the years since that discussion, a real need for bottled water in the community of Flint, and now Benton Harbor, could not have been met so directly if it were not for the bottled water plant supplying clean water to those who live in the affected communities.
These examples guide us in protecting the world as God has instructed us to do. Not all things are as cut and dry as we would like them to be. I continue to see God’s hand in guiding us. In these examples, we continue to struggle as we work to protect the needs of our world. God has directed us to be responsible in our care of the world that He created, and He has given us the possibility to use the resources that He also gifted us, and God continues to hold us responsible as we provide for the needs of all His Children.
May we continue to care for his creation with love for and with Him. AMEN.