African Methodist Episcopal Church Passes Historic Climate Change Resolution
History has been made in Philadelphia yet again. The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, passed the first resolution wholly dedicated to addressing climate change in the Church’s 200 years of existence at their 50th General Conference last week.
“Damage to our climate puts the health of children, elderly, and those with chronic illnesses at greater risk and disproportionately impacts African Americans,” said Bishop John White, President, Council of Bishops of the AME Church. “We believe it is our duty to commit to taking action and promoting solutions that will help make our families and communities healthier and stronger.”
Founded in 1816, the AME Church is the oldest independent Protestant denomination founded by black people. Today the Church has 7,000 locations and 2.5 million members around the world.
More than 30,000 were present to vote on the resolution in Philadelphia, citing climate change’s disproportionate affect on black people. According to research cited in the resolution, 39 percent of Americans living near coal plants are low income and people of color. Black children are twice as likely to be hospitalized and four times as likely as white counterparts to die from asthma.
Outside of the United States, black communities in Africa and the Caribbean have been particularly hard hit by droughts, flood, and disease attributed to climate change.
“We can move away from dirty fuels that make us sick and shift toward safe, clean energy like wind and solar that help make every breath our neighbors and families take a healthy one, create new jobs that can’t be outsourced, help protect the least among us and preserve what God bestowed” reads the resolution.
The resolution encourages Church leaders and members to build support for climate policies that will make the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement goals a reality, as well as have more energy-efficient buildings.
To support these efforts, the AME Church partnered with Blessed Tomorrow, a climate leadership program for faith organizations. Blessed Tomorrow offers guidance and resources to inspire faith climate change leadership. In fact, the organization released a very handy Action Workbook for congregations.
“Climate is not just our issue; it’s everybody’s issue,” Bishop Vashti McKenzie, Presiding Prelate of the Thirteenth Episcopal District of the AME Church and Blessed Tomorrow Leadership Circle Member, said when answering why the AME Church partnered with Blessed Tomorrow. “It’s very important for the AME Church to reach out and work with other faith traditions on climate so that we ensure a legacy of a healthier, safer world for future generations.”
There are a multitude of other faith traditions ready to work with the AME Church. Their clear call for action will only make statements from leaders like Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew louder and more effective.
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