Bishop's Letter: Hearing our planet's call

The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish with the earth. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant.
— Isaiah 24:4-5 

When I attended the Bishop’s Academy this January, the featured topic was care of creation. With so many other immediate matters before me as bishop, I questioned why was I focusing a few days on the welfare of our planet.

Then Dr. Cynthia Moe-Lobeda and Dr. Larry Rasmussen shared their brutal facts, resources for hope, and the reminder of our baptismal call to strive for justice and peace throughout all the earth. I was awakened to the urgency of their message.  

The burden of climate change falls disproportionally on people and nations who experience poverty and have less resources to adapt. Our response to care for creation is really about loving our neighbor. People who are called to love their neighbor must see more deeply. The church is a servant, a messenger of God’s saving love. 

Last week, I joined church bishops and leaders in accepting an invitation from ELCA Advocacy, an arm of World Hunger, to learn more about natural disasters and care of creation. This trip to our nation’s capital included visits with elected leaders.  

At every visit, I assured our leaders and their staff that we are grateful for their service, that we hold them in prayer, and we urge them to reach across the aisle and seek common ground. I let them know we lift our voices on behalf of the most vulnerable, those who suffer the most from natural disasters that are intensifying because of global warming. We urged disaster assistance for the people of Puerto Rico and the funding of the National Flood Insurance Program. 

There is a lot of bad news on climate change, but we still have time to do something. Climate change is a fixable problem—we have the technology, resources, and a window of time to transition to a clean energy economy. But we need to work quickly. We need to act now.  

Most of you are likely doing something already. If you are looking for more ideas, I encourage you to check out the ELCA resources page: Let me know what you and your worship community are doing. Your actions may inspire others. 

I must confess that I see this as a much more urgent matter than I did in January. I am convinced there is no issue more pressing or impactful on our life together. To make this a more livable world for all, our faith calls us to unite in truth-telling and hope. 


The Rev. Deborah K. Hutterer
Grand Canyon Synod of the ELCA