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A Covenant for the Earth

December 4, 2013

For over 10 years, I have been a part of a green group called Hong Kong Christians for Eco-concern. This small but dedicated team of volunteers has tried to spread the message of environmental care so churches can take action. Often it seemed we were fighting a losing battle. Churches are so busy with their own activities consuming their time, money and energy. One church member questioned us, “Where is taking care of the environment in the Bible?”  Our eco-concern efforts appeared to be low priority or hardly noticed.

In 2013, the Hong Kong Christian Council decided it was time to hire someone to focus exclusively on environmental ministry. What a wonderful move! I’ve been working with our new half-time staff Vivo for the past few months to support her in this new initiative.  It’s been exciting to see how God uses her unique gifts and life experiences to bring our dreams to fruition. It is also rewarding to know that our faithful efforts in the past are never wasted in God’s economy.

To help orient her to the work that our group had done, Vivo looked at all our past projects. This included our annual Environment Sunday sermons circulated to all the churches since 2002. I had a hand in writing many of the sermons. One year, I gave a lot of effort to put together a user-friendly environmental checklist specifically geared for churches. It was based on environmental audits carried out in the business world. The ‘green church’ checklist was appreciated by our group, but we never got any feedback that churches actually used it.

To our delight, Vivo immediately picked up on the idea of green church buildings. It was time to stop preaching and start doing something concrete. As a first step, she implemented better recycling practices right in our own office. Then she proposed to help HKCC members to become environmentally friendly through developing a network of certified green churches and organizations. The requirements are to practice energy and water conservation, recycling and supporting eco-justice products.

I was happy that I was able to secure an environment project grant from the Asia Region of the World Association for Christian Communication. This seed money will help to launch the ecological care ministry of Hong Kong Christian Council in early December.

The new project is called “Green Covenant”. It draws on the promise of God to Noah in Genesis 9:14-15: “When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh.”  This sacred promise gives us hope for the future of the planet. But it also requires that we honor our end of the covenant by preserving natural resources, practicing simple living, nurturing the human-nature relationship and pursuing ecological justice for all.

Thank you for your faithful support of my work in the ecumenical ministry of Hong Kong Christian Council. Through your prayers and financial commitment, Global Ministries is making the critical connections between environment, spirituality and justice. Indeed it is the poor who suffer the most when skies are polluted, water is contaminated, and the world’s garbage is dumped in their backyard. It is the poor and vulnerable who are disproportionately affected by extreme weather events. May our love for God and our neighbors inspire us to restore creation’s beauty for the sake of our children and our children’s children.

In the peace of Christ,

Judy Chan serves with the Hong Kong Christian Council.  She is responsible for communications for the Council.  She is also in charge of ecumenical radio broadcasting ministry, English publications and ecumenical partnerships in Hong Kong and overseas.

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