At the invitation of Rob Werner, state director of the League of Conservation Voters, I made these remarks at a press conference in the Legislative Office Building at 9:00am on Wednesday, January 3, 2018.
These remarks refer to and are an extension of our 2016 agreed statement on the Stewardship of Creation (PDF).
I am Rev. Jason Wells and I am the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Council of Churches. The Council is made up of ten denominations in the Granite State: the American Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Quaker, Unitarian-Universalist, United Church of Christ, United Methodist.
It’s hard to get these diverse denominations to agree, but in 2016 we did agree on a statement on the Stewardship of Creation, which the League of Conservation Voters helped us to compose.
That statement drew on Bible passages like Genesis 1-2 and Psalm 104 to say, “As good stewards we are called to take actions on behalf of creation that we might honor God, preserve Earth and its rich variety and bio-diversity, and find delight in this place we call ‘home.'”
That statement was broad and general, making clear that the earth is God’s good gift to us humans and that we have a responsibility to care for this earth, as we would expect anyone to show respect to a gift that we had given them.
But the call to care for creation requires specific, concrete steps. One good, individual action is found in House Bill 559. You already know that this bill applies RGGI revenues to low-income weatherization and projects.
For the past thirteen years I served congregations here in New Hampshire. Environmental concerns, serving the poor and ministry overlapped frequently. As a pastor, I helped a now 103-year-old woman weatherize her home so that she needed less money from her government in heating assistance.
As a pastor, I saw first-hand how mealtimes at Concord’s Friendly Kitchen got busier and busier each winter, as folk struggled to choose between food, rent and heat.
Investing those revenues now means a brighter future for all. Care-taking begets care-taking. Using revenue like this means that we use the revenues for the common good and for the love of neighbor.
A familiar Bible verse says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…: a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2).
Having grown up in Texas, I actually have an uncle who raises cattle. There’s a phrase that he and other farmers use: “eating the feed (or seed) corn.” That is to say, that we have corn that is supposed to feed the cattle or be planted for next year’s crops.
But, when budgets feel tight and times are lean, it’s tempting to take that corn and make bread for yourself. Of course, this means a short-term win with severe consequences next season.
To “pluck up” when the season requires “planting” has a Biblical and a farming metaphor: it’s eating the seed corn. HB 592 represents eating our seed corn: taking what is best invested and passing it on to be consumed. HB 559 on the other hand, is a faithful planting of revenues so that we can have an abundant season in the near future.
Please, let’s plant and not “pluck up.”