WASHINGTON – Thousands of people gathered under the vaulted high-ceiling and the dazzling array of sunlight shining through the delicate stain glass of the famed Washington National Cathedral on Sunday to hear a sermon not about loving your enemies and forgiveness but about creation care.
The message highlighted the "deep trouble" that scientists say the earth is facing as human-generated greenhouse gases are threatening the ecosystem; causing widespread drought, flooding, extinction of animals and plants, malnutrition and spreading of disease; and melting icebergs.
"The Earth coming alive is really a miracle; but today we have to face the fact that miracle is terrifyingly fragile," said the Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III, dean of the Washington National Cathedral, in observance of Earth Day.
He pointed to the latest 1,572-page report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change composed of the world's leading scientists as new evidence on the escalating problem of climate change.
The report warns that warming temperatures could result in food shortage for 50 million people by 2020 and 132 million people by 2050 due to decrease rain-fed rice yields and increase populations.
Coral reefs, fisheries and island life will also be affected by climate change which will force many fishes to migrate, according to the report.
"We – you and I – are part of the problem," said Lloyd, noting that the United States makes up only four percent of the world population but is producing 25 percent of the world's greenhouse gases. He described Americans as addicted to a standard of living dependant on accessible and inexpensive coal and oil energy.
The Episcopal pastor also highlighted that a survey a couple of years ago indicated that the more religious a person was the less inclined they were to care about the earth.
Joining Lloyd and congregation was the Rev. Richard Cizik, National Association of Evangelicals' vice president for governmental affairs, who has been a major leader in spearheading the global warming and creation care issue among evangelicals.
Cizik was recently clouded by controversy over his global warming advocacy when dozens of prominent evangelical leaders including James C. Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, sent a letter to the NAE board urging them to stop Cizik from speaking about the global warming issue.
Signers of the letter argued that Cizik presented a unified evangelical voice on global warming when there was none and that his advocacy was diverting attention away from more important issue such as homosexuality and abortion.
Cizik, who led the intercessory prayer during Sunday's service, responded that he speaks on behalf of the millions of evangelicals who believe that creation care is an important issue.
"I think this is a broad agenda that evangelicals care about," said Cizik to The Christian Post after the service. "Most evangelicals by the poll actually agree that climate change, habitat destruction and species extinction are all issues that they care about.
"So I don't feel that I am that much out-of-step in any way…. What they (green evangelicals) need … [is] their leaders to lead them. I am attempting to lead the National Association of Evangelicals but there are pastors and lay people around the country who are doing the very same thing and I'm proud of them and they are doing the right thing."
The Washington National Cathedral Earth Day Service was one of thousands of churches across the nation participating in the annual day to promote environmental citizenship and progressive action worldwide. According to Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network, the goal this year was to have 12,000 sermons about climate change and creation care delivered in churches on Earth Day.
"The spirit is moving in our world now to renew the face of the Earth. The question is will we join now?" concluded Lloyd in his Earth Day sermon.