Beating the Heat: It’s our responsibility

As we have felt firsthand, last week brought record-setting heat waves to the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley regions, even more than “Swedish Days is always hot” kind of heat. Those relentlessly high temperatures have been more than just a topic for conversation—they pose serious risks to our health and well-being. But beyond immediate health risks, these heat waves are a stark reminder of broader changes in our environment. For decades, we’ve heard scientists attribute the increasing frequency and intensity of these heat events to climate change, largely driven by our reliance on fossil fuels. As global temperatures rise, weather patterns become more erratic, making extreme weather events like heatwaves, floods, and storms more common and severe.

As Christians, God calls us to respond to these challenges with both wisdom and action. The recently updated United Methodist Social Principles[1] emphasize our responsibility to care for God’s creation. Let’s delve into what our church says about climate change and how we are called to be stewards of the Earth:

Global Warming and Climate Change: Our Social Principles state that global warming and climate change are significant threats to our planet. They impact ecosystems, weather patterns, and communities worldwide. The church recognizes the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to more sustainable energy sources.

Dependence on Fossil Fuels: The document highlights how our heavy reliance on fossil fuels contributes to environmental degradation. It calls for a shift towards renewable energy and more responsible consumption practices to mitigate these impacts.

Sustainable Policies and Practices: It urges individuals and communities to adopt sustainable living practices. This includes reducing energy consumption, supporting green technologies, and advocating for environmental justice.

At UMCG, we have embraced these principles and are taking meaningful steps to lessen our environmental impact and live faithfully: We’ve installed a geothermal heating and cooling system, significantly reducing our dependence on conventional, fossil-fuel-based energy sources. Understanding the detrimental effects of Styrofoam on the environment, we’ve implemented a program to recycle Styrofoam, reducing waste and its harmful effects. Exploring solar energy: we are actively exploring the feasibility of installing solar panels, which would allow us to harness clean, renewable energy from the sun, further reducing our carbon footprint.

These actions reflect our commitment to being good stewards of creation, and I celebrate the collective efforts we’ve made. However, there’s always more we can do. Each of us has a role in protecting our planet. Here are a few ways you can contribute:

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle still applies. Make a habit of reducing waste, reusing materials when possible, and recycling responsibly. Conserve Energy: Simple actions like turning off lights when not needed, using energy-efficient appliances, and reducing water usage can make a big difference. Advocate for Change: Support policies and initiatives that promote environmental sustainability and reduce carbon emissions. Your voice matters in shaping a greener future.

As we endure this summer’s heat, let’s also take time to reflect on our individual and collective responsibilities in addressing climate change and keep up our efforts at being good stewards of creation. By continuing to make conscious, sustainable choices, we can help mitigate the impacts of these extreme weather events and protect our community and planet for future generations.

Thank you for your commitment and action. Together, we can beat the heat and create a healthier, more sustainable world.


[1] The updated Social Principles of the United Methodist Church provide a robust framework for addressing environmental and social issues. They guide us in our actions and advocacy, emphasizing the importance of:

Caring for All Creation: Recognizing that every part of creation is interconnected and that humans have a special responsibility to care for the Earth.

Combating Climate Change: Urging the reduction of carbon footprints and the adoption of renewable energy to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Promoting Environmental Justice: Ensuring that all people, especially those in vulnerable communities, are protected from the harms of environmental degradation.

For more detailed insights, please refer to the “Community of All Creation” section in the Revised Social Principles 2024.