AME Church teaches ‘thoughtful control’ of the natural world
The African Methodist Episcopal Church doesn’t have an adopted position statement on the environment. Our prevailing view is shaped both by Scripture and by an aspect of our cultural heritage.
The first chapter of Genesis describes how God creates humankind and gives us control over all other created things. Jesus tells the story in Matthew 25:14-30 of a man who gives his servants control over his property and then gives even more to those who exercise thoughtful control of what they are given.
We believe that God did not give us “cruel control,” or the right to willfully damage and destroy the environment.
God gave us “thoughtful control” so that the rest of creation can be of benefit to us and so that we, in turn, can safeguard and enhance what God created.
That “thoughtful control” was also a cultural aspect of the ancestors of our church’s founders. That’s why those who first came to Africa from Europe viewed the continent as “primitive,” without understanding that well-developed, centuries-old cultures there sought to preserve the natural environment.
That’s also why those seeking to protect a small, local African-American cemetery won their legal case a few years ago. They successfully argued that what was thought to be “undeveloped land” where a home could be built was actually a burial ground that was maintained as much as possible in its natural state.
Our belief as members of the AME Church is that we are to use our natural resources for the good of humankind.
However, we should do so with an appreciation for what God has created and with care to replenish and preserve it. For, as an old African-American spiritual says, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.”
The Rev. Joseph A. Darby
Presiding elder, Beaufort District of the AME Church