My name is Ralph Weitz, Stewardship Pastor for Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. I have a degree in Forest Technology and a degree in Forest Management.
As an evangelical pastor I take seriously the issue of God’s command to subdue and rule over the earth. It is a divine responsibility – a stewardship. That word reflects a responsibility of management.
The religious community needs environmentally aware study materials that are sound scientifically and biblically insightful. We need to avoid guilt-driven, emotional manipulation that centers on a political agenda verses personal responsibility.
The Cornwall Declaration states this ideal this way, “We aspire to a world in which right reason (including sound theology and the careful use of scientific methods) guides the stewardship of human and ecological relationships.”
I was personally encouraged by the article by Co-founder of Green Peace, Patrick Moore, in the Outlook Section of this past Sunday’s Washington Post [April 16, 2006].
In the article, “Going Nuclear,” Moore as the co-founder of the Clean And Safe Energy organization states,
“Nuclear energy is the only large-scale, cost-effective energy source that can reduce greenhouse gases while continuing to satisfy a growing demand for power. And these days it can be done safely.” “Every responsible environmentalist should support a move in that direction.”
Now that is a significant and reasonable change from his position 30 years ago. Although not new, the Cornwall Declaration calls this “technological innovation.”
Last year we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the U. S. Forest Service. It was Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the US Forest Service, who fostered the idea that “where conflicting interests must be reconciled the question will always be decided from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run”:
Using that principle as a Presbyterian, Pinchot founded and led the US Forest Service and was Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He showed the Christian view of wise management of vast resources that moved our country to a strong sense of conservation for the most good. It was by sound management practices not by arbitrary regulations such as the Roadless Wilderness initiative.
I believe the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance will use sound Judeo-Christian stewardship principles that are not politically or ideologically driven but a wise stewardship of God’s resources. Our congregations will learn to produce the most good for the greatest number in the long run.
The Cornwall Declaration calls for “human beings…to join God in making provision for our temporal being….” As a practical example, there is a critical need for urban reforestation. In the last half of the 20th century many of our US cities lost over 50% of their tree canopy. This exacerbates the heat island affect of our inner cities creating a greater hardship on the poor to attempt to cool their homes.
Urban reforestation would be a potential project of partnering religious commitment and practical application to meeting the needs of the poor. Churches could be mobilized to plant and maintain a portion of the urban tree canopy.
As a stewardship pastor and trained in Forest Management from two universities I endorse the Cornwall Declaration and The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance. I look forward to the fruitful results of this alliance.