Christian Stewardship of Energy Resources (General Conference Mennonite Church, 1977)

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Christian Stewardship of Energy Resources (General Conference Mennonite Church, 1977)

Our Concern

We find ourselves in the midst of predictions of dire energy shortages as well as reassurances that all is well. We hear claims and counter-claims. While we have great difficulty in determining the detailed facts, we have been made painfully aware that many of our current energy sources are not infinite or renewable.

In this debate values and priorities vary widely. Economics, national independence, environmental concerns and safety all receive differing emphases. This has increased our awareness of the social costs of all forms of energy. We are challenged to establish our priorities in light of our Christian faith.

As a Mennonite church, our concern for responsible stewardship of energy resources has a strong theological basis.

We believe that God alone is the creator of the earth and its resources, and that therefore only God is owner in any absolute sense. We are only stewards for the duration of our lives of that which ultimately belongs to God (Psalms 24:1,2).

While the biblical text affirms that human beings alone are created in God's image and have therefore been given dominion over earth by God (Genesis 1:27,28), it does not imply that we are gods who need not pay any heed to our environment. Though created in God's image, we remain creatures who cannot live apart from the environment God has created to sustain us. The biblical text reminds us of this by indicating that humankind does not have a separate day of creation, but shares the day and the table that has been prepared for them with the animals (Genesis 1:19-26).

Since we now know that our spaceship earth is a closed system with finite (limited) rather than infinite (limitless) resources, it becomes apparent that the present generation has a responsibility to all future generations to so use and conserve the limited energy resources of the earth, that future human habitation of this planet will not be either impossible or else greatly impoverished (Isaiah 45:18-20).

We recognize that we have been faithful in some ways to this vision and give thanks to God for His guidance and for the blessings which we and others have enjoyed. We also realize that we need to re-examine our life-styles and consumption patterns in the light of our unique vision and new awareness.

Our Response

We confess that in the past we have often been unfaithful stewards of energy resources as our consumption has been geared more to our own short-term satisfaction and less to the long-range needs and requirements of the entire world. As churches we operate facilities that are often very wasteful and inefficient in the use of energy. Better stewardship will involve both efforts to reduce waste (e.g., increased insulation in our homes) and to bring changes in life-style which make life simpler and less consumptive of resources but sometimes less convenient and comfortable.

Therefore we call each General Conference congregation:

  1. To study and discuss the implications of current patterns of resource use in light of the Christian responsibility to be good stewards.
  2. To assign responsibility for stewardship in the use of energy resources in focal church facilities to a committee of the fellowship. This committee should study the use and possible methods of conserving energy in the church and should come to the congregation with targets for reducing energy use and ways
  3. of meeting these targets. (A feasible target might be reduction of use of fuels and electricity by one-third by 1980.)

Therefore we call General Conference Mennonite individuals and families:

  1. To budget the use of non-renewable resources such as fuels and electricity. We ask individuals and families to examine, in the light of the discussion by the fellowship, their direct use of energy resources and to set specific targets for reducing that consumption in homes and in transportation.
  2. To consider the indirect use of energy (i.e., energy used in the manufacturing of products) when making purchases. "What we can afford" needs to include not only concerns for stewardship of money but also for the stewardship of energy and material resources consumed in the manufacture and use of a product.
  3. To encourage those recycle and reuse systems which save on energy and material resources.

Therefore we call General Conference churches to encourage leaders in government and industry:

  1. To promote and implement energy policies that do more useful work with less energy (e.g., match production means to end use needs, reduce energy waste, etc.) and that minimize disruption of society.
  2. To put forth a much more vigorous effort in the development of alternative sources of energy such as solar, wind and biomass and redirect development assistance in favor of renewable sources of energy.
  3. To promote tax credits and other economic or legislative incentives in order to facilitate conservation of resources and the transition to renewable resource energy, ensuring that this does not place an unfair burden on those least able to bear the cost.
  4. To place high priority on minimizing negative health, safety and environmental impacts both in current energy production and in the selection and development of future energy sources.
  5. To abandon all fast breeder reactor and fuel reprocessing facilities and end the development and sale of such facilities.
  6. To promote the international regulation and control of existing nuclear technology.
  7. To reduce reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear sources of energy as rapidly as possible because of their particularly harmful social consequences.
  8. To call for a moratorium on the construction of the proposed Mackenzie Valley Pipeline (a pipeline to transport gas to Canadian and United States markets) pending a just settlement of Native land claims in the Northwest Territories and a full consideration of the protection of the particularly fragile environment of the Northwest. This call is in keeping with the position of Project North (an interchurch project addressing Northern development issues) supported by MCC (Canada) and MCC Peace Section (U.S.).

Therefore we call on the Commission on Home Ministries of the General Conference Mennonite Church:

  1. To facilitate a continuing study of the issues in energy use and production;
  2. To circulate information to congregations during this triennium that will help encourage better stewardship of our energy resources.

We ask God's guidance and wisdom as we seek to understand and commit ourselves to new ways of living out His will.

Energy Resources Task Force: Dwight Platt, David Ortman, Dennis Kauffman, Harold Regier