This was written by Tonya Calhoun, Moms Clean Air Force’s Community Rx consultant:
As the great-granddaughter, granddaughter, niece of several Baptist pastors, and once an avid volunteer in the Missionary Baptist community, I’ve always known the importance of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. (NBC). Founded in 1886, it’s the nation’s oldest and largest African American religious convention with an estimated membership of 7.5 million.
Moms Clean Air Force’s Community Rx Program, a faith-based climate campaign dedicated to advocacy in African-American communities, had the honor of attending and presenting at NBC’s annual event in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Convention attracted more than 50,000 attendees from around the world.
Included within the NBC is the Women’s Auxiliary, which purposes to serve the needs of the women of the NBC, and women around the world. The Auxiliary is heavily concerned for young people and education, as they take pride in supporting home and foreign mission. Our Community Rx Program was introduced to a smaller group of Women’s Auxiliary members earlier this year, and our educational resource materials were highly received. With a buzz amongst the Women’s Auxiliary already in place, we were excited to interact with the attendees.
Our fearless Moms Clean Air Force’s national field director, Heather McTeer Toney, along with notable Women’s Auxiliary personnel took to the stage to present the expectations of the Moms Clean Air Force and Women’s Auxiliary partnership. Heather began by reintroducing Moms Clean Air Force as, “A force for clean air, protecting people and children all over the world.”
Heather shared 3 major take-aways with the Women’s Auxiliary:
- We Were Created to Work and Keep Creation
When God created Adam, He placed Adam in Eden to work it and keep it (Genesis 2:15). Some Christians assume that having “dominion” implies that Earth was created only for human use and exploitation. But this does not match with the testimony of Scripture. Carelessly destroying nature by polluting the water and air, destroying wildlife and animal habitats, or wastefully using resources however we please, is not in keeping with God’s character or the dominion mandate that He gave to mankind. It does not reflect His care for nature, nor does it acknowledge the joy that He takes in what He has made. It also does not reflect his original purpose for us: to work and keep creation.
- Christian Stewardship is Work
Often times we have to put something in words people can understand. Christians understand ‘stewardship’. Christians know that stewardship means to work. In John 3:16, we read, ‘For God so loved the world…’ The word world is actually kosmos in Greek – the cosmos, in essence, God’s love is not just for humans, and it’s for ALL creation, the entirety of the world, everything that is all encompassing. God didn’t send His son for part of His creation. God has charged us to care for the earth. The earth is waiting for us to take our rightful position and set if free.
- Motherhood Stands for Justice
Christians must combine our voices with the groaning voice of creation. The Earth’s groaning can be translated into climate change experiences that we are dealing with right now. Hurricanes, heat, unconventional cold, suffering crops, etc. Children are suffering because we are not addressing the earth’s groaning, and it’s time for the church to get involved. “The church is where the truth and the responsibility should lie” (Catherine Flowers, Moms Clean Air Force’s Texas state organizer). People should trust the church to know what’s true. The most influential part of a church, the Mothers Board won’t lie to you about what’s right, and desire the absolute best for you. All the principles we associate with mothers are the same principles for climate justice. Mothers set limits, set boundaries, and set the balance of our society. We need mothers to stand up to the polluters in the community. When mothers speak, the world listens.
At the conclusion of Heather’s presentation, she left the Women’s Auxiliary with a charge: “It is time to do the work! We [Moms Clean Air Force] are connecting with mothers across the globe who are black, white, Latino, etc. God wants to make sure we have a livable earth and planet.”
These women excitedly made their way over to our Community Rx table, where Moms Clean Air Force’s personnel, Catherine Flowers and Victoria Rachmaninoff, joined me in sharing 2,000 pieces of Community Rx resources and our ‘Breath of Life’ Bible Study Curriculum, authored by Rev. Dele, and edited by South Carolina field consultant, Shakeila James. The conversations were vibrant! These women were ready to get to work, and bring their respective Pastors along. There is a very real truth when it comes to engaging Christians on the issue of climate change: It is up to church leadership to inspire their congregations. Pastors have to be courageous visionaries because you simply cannot love God and ignore what is happening to the Earth.
Although I am now a nondenominational ‘church goer’, I’ve never forgotten my strong Baptist roots. It was extremely nostalgic to be back in my home state of Louisiana, known for its distinct music, Creole cuisine, unique dialect, and annual events. I’m excited that the Moms Clean Air Force partnership with the Women’s Auxiliary of the National Baptist Convention, will be leading the climate conversation in this Christian community.