Posted April 21, 2010 by The Underground Staff in Commentary and News

Christians celebrate Earth Day

This year Christians throughout the United States will be celebrating Earth Day through a live simulcast nationwide, through documentaries, lectures and seminars on God’s creation and man’s stewardship of the earth.

Earth Day, slated for April 22, is intended to raise awareness and appreciation for the environment.

Now on its 40th year, Earth Day is said to be founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson.  However its concept originated from Pentecostal minister John McConnell Jr, 95, who told the Assemblies of God (AG) Heritage magazine that he first proposed Earth Day in 1969 to promote peace and unity.  He wanted it to be held in late March at the start of spring.

McConnell said he submitted his proposal for Earth Day to San Francisco city officials on Oct. 3, 1969.  The first governmental recognition of Earth Day was held March 21, 1970 supported by Congress and the United Nations.

However, it was moved by Sen. Nelson to April 22 because he had scheduled a political protest called Environmental Teach-In Day.

McConnell’s biographer, Robert Weir, said Nelson admitted that he got the idea for Earth Day from others, but he did not specify from whom. In time, he began to publicly claim full credit for Earth Day.

Christians have commonly neglected to celebrate Earth Day as it was deemed to be identified with left leaning environmentalism and implied nature worship.

However now they see Earth Day as a time to renew their stewardship of God’s gift of creation, celebrate God and to witness their faith to others.

McConnell said, “We love God … [and therefore should] have an appreciation for His creation.”

A study in 2008 by the Barna Group, a religious research organization, found that 78 percent of self-identified Christians would like to see their fellow Christians take a more active role in caring for the earth.

Some of the things that Christians are doing on Earth Day include:

  • Northland, A Church Distributed in Longwood, Fla. will hold a simulcast on April 21 that organizers say will be the largest ever faith-based gathering involving Earth Day, drawing thousands of churches.
  • Blessed Earth, founded three years ago by Dr. Matthew Sleeth of Wilmore, Ky, has organized hundreds of churches for “Hope for Creation: A Live Simulcast Event,” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.  Sleeth is the author of “Serve God and Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action.”  Since its founding, Blessed Earth has produced a 12-film series on the Bible and the environment.
  • St. Monica-St. George Parish Newman Center in Ohio will hold its annual “Thomas Merton Year,” from April 25-May 7 with the talk, “Meeting Merton Again for the First Time: Contemplative Ecologist, Ecological Prophet.”  Merton was a 20th-century Catholic monk in Gethsemani, Ky.  The talk is presented by Sister Kathleen Deignan, a GreenFaith Fellow with training in religious environmental leadership.  She wrote the books, “When the Trees Say Nothing: Writings on Nature” and “Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours.”