Evangelical Minister Proclaims "Let's Tend the Garden"

On Friday, Environmental News Network published an AP story about the growing evangelical embrace of "creation care" (they don't care for "environmentalism"), and some of the political turmoil that's arisen because of differing positions among Christians who look to the Bible for literal truth. The debate itself is intriguing -- we've covered it here at Treehugger -- but the article's initial focus on Boise, Idaho's Vineyard Christian Fellowship proved more interesting, as the church has developed a comprehensive environmental ministry in response to what it believes are Biblical obligations. According to ENN,

Tending to your soul at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Boise, Idaho, involves recycling old cell phones and printer cartridges in the church lobby, pulling noxious weeds in the backcountry and fixing worn-out hiking trails in the mountains. This is part of the ministry of Tri Robinson, a former biology teacher whose rereading of the Bible led him to the belief that Christians focused on Scripture need to combat global warming and save the Earth.

"All of a sudden Boise Vineyard is one of the most important driving forces in our community for the environment," Robinson said. "People say, 'Why are you doing that?' Because God wants it."

Digging through the ministry's website, entitled "Let's Tend to the Garden," one finds an evangelical vision of the environment and human beings' relationship to it that's both complex and nuanced. Pastor Robinson and his followers address the idea of environmental stewardship as a Christian obligation, the need to address global warming, and even the perception that environmentalism is, by definition, a "liberal" issue. None of these essays are short, and all take multifaceted look at the economic, social, and even spiritual costs of continuing on our current course.

Are Tri Robinson and his congregation typical of evangelicals? We won't try to figure that out. We can say that the traditional environmental community and the creation care movement will still have differences to iron out, but Vineyard Boise's ecological evangelism demonstrates that we've got a lot more in common than many may have thought. If you're interested in learning more about this vision of Christian environmental stewardship, you may also want to take a look at Robinson's book Saving God's Green Earth. ::Let's Tend the Garden via ENN

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