September 1 marks the beginning of the ecclesiastical year. And it was on that day in 1989 that His All-Holiness, the late Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios I, issued a message on the environment while proclaiming the first day of the ecclesiastical year as a “Day of Prayer for Creation.”
“The celebration offers Orthodox Christians—especially youth and young adults—an opportunity for us to reflect on the beauty of God’s creation,” said David Lucs, who chairs the Orthodox Church in America’s Department of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries. “A variety of resources are available for parish communities to organize ministries and activities for faithful of all ages in the weeks and months ahead, especially as Church schools, adult religious education classes and youth groups gear up for the new year.”
“If you’re wondering what you can do or should think about the environment, then what follows is for you,” writes Father John in his opening paragraph. “In fact, every teen and young adult should pause on a regular basis – look up from their phones – and appreciate the glory and majesty of creation which is all around us.”
“The Earth is the Lord’s: Caring for God’s Creation”—a five-session study guide for youth and teens originally published by the OCA in the mid-1990s and now available from SVS Press—makes an ideal curriculum resource for the beginning of the new Church school year. Sessions review a number of themes, including creation as of God, our responsibility for creation, our role as priests of creation, threats to creation and our call to be stewards of creation.
The OCA’s Parish Ministry Resources features several thematic articles, including “A Creation Celebration”; “And God Saw That It Was Good”; and “Ten Green Projects Any Parish Can Adopt”, which offers practical suggestions for implementing a number of projects and ministries. Also recommended is Archpriest John Breck’s “Sanctify The Waters”, which provides the foundation for a genuinely Christian ‘ecology.’
Many other resources are available on the web site of the Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration, including “Creation Care and Ecological Justice”, a reflection delivered by His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I at the Oxford Union in November 2015.
Other recommended resources include “Creation, Wonder and Ecology”; “Orthodox Perspectives on Creation”, which features extracts from the report of the WCC’s October 1987 Inter-Orthodox Consultation in Sofia, Bulgaria; and Father John Hainsworth’s multi-part podcast series—“Bright Wings: Classical Christian Ecology”—available from Ancient Faith Ministries.