Geoelectric survey conducted by FIEA in Rocafuerte region, Ecuador. PHOTO: FIEA – ECUADOR

By Lizzy Case with Rev. Jenny Phillips, Senior Technical Advisor for Environmental Sustainability at United Methodist Global Ministries

“Now there is a way of having light in our house without exposing ourselves and houses to the danger of the fire.”

“We used to walk long distances to get water but now it is near. Because of the solar pump, my kids can go to school on time and not tired because they used to fetch water early morning and carry heavy buckets.”

“The solar lanterns reduced the violence against girls and women because they no longer need to collect firewood from forests in the dark after school and work.”

Creation justice is not only about ensuring equitable protection from the impacts of climate change, pollution, and environmental degradation, but also about ensuring equitable access to the economic, educational, social and health benefits created through stewardship and use of the resources of creation. Global Ministries and UMCOR work with partners around the world to support creation justice by increasing access to clean water, safe and reliable energy, and sustainable agriculture. The quotes above are from United Methodists supported through renewable energy grants in Sudan and Congo. For them, creation justice means basic access to resources that many people in the United States take for granted. 

As we celebrate our community with Christians around the world through World Communion Sunday on October 3, take some time to reflect on the articles linked below and on the ways in which creation justice is made manifest through the global community of The United Methodist Church.

In many parts of the world, water is a central creation justice concern with life-or-death implications. “UNICEF estimates that over 700 children under age five die every day of preventable diarrheal diseases because their communities lack appropriate WASH facilities and practices,” according to Global Ministries’ Christie House. UMCOR’s WASH program supports projects like a recent initiative in Bolivia and Ecuador, where local church partners worked with engineers to drill wells, build restrooms, and connect communities to sewage systems.

Tunda Hospital, 2021, new construction with solar-generated power lighting at night. PHOTO: EAST CONGO HEALTH BOARD

More than 800 million people around the world lack access to reliable, affordable energy. This impacts every aspect of life, from safety to food storage and preparation to education to healthcare to work. In places without access to renewable energy, people have to use dangerous, polluting fuels to meet their basic needs. UMCOR recognizes that providing sustainable energy for all is key to climate justice. The agency’s Renewable Energy Access grant program provides solar energy to sites like Tunda Hospital in Congo, where a 4kW solar PV and battery system was installed. The hospital also received water infrastructure and other critical support through UMCOR and Global Ministries programs. 

The Kamisamba Farm training officer gives a tour of the solar system at the farm. Solar panels were installed with a grant from Global Ministries’ Environmental Sustainability office. PHOTO: LORRAINE CHARINDA

Food, water, and energy are intimately connected: energy is needed to pump water at a scale that can support agriculture so that people can have access to food. UMCOR Renewable Energy and WASH proiect at Kamisamba Farm in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a great example of this. “Before the installation of solar panels, the property had no power source. Electric lines did not extend from the town of Kamina, a little town four miles away. Although the farm has a water source from wells dug a few years ago, without electricity, there was no way to pump the water to where it was needed,” according to House.  

Global Ministries is also partnering in local communities to provide innovative technology solutions to energy scarcity. The agency has distributed small solar lanterns to address multiple community concerns. In partnership with the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico, 20,000 solar lanterns were distributed after Hurricane Maria. Solar lanterns are used to provide light for small healthcare clinics without electricity access. They have also been given to girls in Sudan and South Sudan so they are able to study at night.

Globally, the work of creation justice requires equitable access for energy, water, food, and healthcare to care for people and planet – all of God’s beloved creation.