WASHINGTON – Evangelical leaders from several prominent organizations gathered on Capitol Hill Tuesday to pray, repent and sing about creation care.
The afternoon rally at the Upper Senate Park was among several events that took place for the first-ever National Day of Prayer for Creation Care.
"We pray today especially for those who suffer because of our mistreatment of your world," prayed Galen Carey, director of government affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals, on Tuesday.
"May we be your faithful servants and may we your people lead the way that others will see not only how to care for your good creation, but will come to know you as their loving creator through the witness of our lives and deeds," he said.
Along with the NAE, organizations involved in the rally included the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, the Evangelical Environmental Network, andRenewal: Students Caring for Creation, among others.
The Rev. Nick Garza, chief operating officer at the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, proclaimed that creation care is rightly the curch's issue.
"Anything that hurts people the Church should be standing up and saying stop, the line is drawn here," said Garza, who is also the senior pastor at Third Day Worship Center in Elk Grove, Calif. "I will not allow for anyone to steal what is properly the Church's issue – caring for our people, caring for our planet, caring for what God made. It is our issue. Everyone can jump on the bandwagon if they want to, but it is our issue."
In recent years, evangelicals have increasingly become more vocal and active about the environmental issue, which they understand as creation care.
Last month, the Florida megachurch Northland, a Church Distributed hosted the first-ever global simulcast for a church-based creation care event. Tens of thousands of people from some 40 countries attended the global conversation on why and how to care for the earth.
And Bible-publishing giant Thomas Nelson released The Green Bible in 2008. Verses and passages that speak of God's care for creation are highlighted in green ink in this Bible. Also, the cover is made of cotton linen instead of leather and the texts are printed on recycled paper using soy-based ink.
According to a Barna study in 2008, 90 percent of evangelicals say they would like Christians to be more active in caring for creation.
During the Capitol Hill event, the Rev. Mitch Hescox, president and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network, shared about his more than 300-mile walk over the past 18 days.
Hescox explained that the idea for the creation care walk was inspired by the story of a five-year-old girl from Tanzania. The little girl has to walk about 20 miles each day to bring water back to her home because of deforestation and climate change.
"Truly I believe that if a little five-year-old girl can walk 20 miles a day carrying water for her family, then I can walk 18 to 20 miles a day to tell the world that American Christians care," Hescox said.
During his 300-mile walk through the states of West Virginia and Virginia, Hescox said he saw some of the most beautiful mountains and valleys. But he also saw mountains whose tops have been removed and valleys that have been filled in and farm land that have been overgrazed.
"Today is a day of prayer but today is also a day of action," the EEN president declared. "We walked to start this action."
Dove award-winning artist Mark Schultz was featured at the Capitol Hill rally. That evening, Schultz performed for more than over 500 people gathered for the Creation Care Concert at The Falls Church in northern Virginia.