By: Christa Meland
Rev. Susan Mullin is one of six people who have been selected to serve on the United Methodist Church’s just-formed Global Ministries Creation Care Team.
Mullin is a provisional deacon who serves as minister of faith formation and community outreach at Faith United Methodist Church in St. Anthony. She will represent all of North America on this new team, created by the General Board of Global Ministries.
“The magnitude of the climate change that is happening and will continue to happen is so huge, and I don’t think we’ve really come to grips with that,” said Mullin, who is “excited and humbled” to have been selected for the team. “One of the reasons I hope churches will focus on this is because it will change how we do ministry in every way. It’s going to affect hunger around world, it’s going to affect poverty, it’s going to affect war.”
Mullin and the five other members of the newly formed Global Ministries Creation Care team will represent the global United Methodist Church at two United Nations climate change conferences—one in Lima, Peru, in December and another in France in December 2015. Both will provide significant opportunities for learning and collaboration with ecumenical and environmental groups.
Mullin has long been an advocate of creation care, and she’s a licensed geologist who worked as an environmental consultant prior to entering full-time ministry in 2010. In her application for the Global Ministries Creation Care Team, Mullin said that we’re at a crucial moment for humanity and pointed out that scientists say we must move quickly if we are to avoid the worst consequences of global warming.
“I believe that Christians have an important role to play in this movement,” she said. “Grounded in a love of God and God’s creation, we are called to be a neighbor, courageously putting the needs of our neighbor before our desires for status, wealth, and security. As a citizen of the United States, I am keenly aware of the injustice caused by our emissions affecting other nations.”
Mullin said she often thinks about Moses’ speech to the Israelites before they entered the promised land. He said, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
“Collectively, we have been choosing death,” Mullin wrote. “We have been single-mindedly pursuing the extraction of fossil fuels and minerals to the exclusion of concerns for the health of our communities and the health of our planet . . . Now is the time for us to choose life.”
Mullin has attended several creation care conferences and spent four years on the board of Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light, which brings together faith communities around climate justice. She’s also part of the Hopeful Earth Committee, a group within the Minnesota Conference that focuses on a holistic relationship with God’s creation. (Members of the 2014 annual conference session approved a resolution introduced by that committee; it calls for all congregations to reduce their carbon footprint by at least 10 percent.)
Mullin said creation care is one way that we work to fulfill God’s call to heal a broken world. But it also aligns with the two other Gospel imperatives that the Minnesota Conference is focused on: grow in love of God and neighbor and reach new people.
One of the ways we can grow in love of God and neighbor is by understanding how environmental issues are affecting our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world—and then discerning how God is calling us to assist in making the world a better place in which to live, said Mullin, who looks forward to learning from people in other parts of the world and bringing their stories back to Minnesota.
In terms of reaching new people, environmental stewardship is important to the younger generations, she said; discussing environmental issues within our churches is a way of engaging young people and staying relevant to them, and it could be the first step in inviting young members of our communities into a deeper relationship with the church and with God.
Mullin said there are opportunities for all churches to engage in conversation around creation care—through worship, preaching, adult forums, and events for youth. Over the summer, her congregation and two others together offered an eco kids camp; 24 kids, most of whom aren’t part of the churches, participated.
Rev. Leigh Brown, pastor at Faith United Methodist Church where Mullin serves, said Mullin is an asset to the congregation and the conference.
“Susan has been a leader in the Minnesota Annual Conference in educating and motivating congregations to become involved in this critical and vital ministry,” she told church members in an e-mail. “As the body of Christ, the church is called to play a pivotal role in creation care and solutions to the present environmental crisis. Susan will be at the forefront of this ministry—transforming the world!”
RELATED: Rev. Mullin, several other Minnesota United Methodists, and two local churches (Faith UMC in St. Anthony and Prospect Park UMC in Minneapolis) were recently featured in an 11-minute documentary created by the Climate Reality Project. The video focuses on ways in which a variety of local churches are cutting down on energy use and why religious leaders are embracing creation care and environmental awareness. Watch documentary
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
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