Testimony of the GKSA with regards to environmental issues

The following testimony regarding environmental issues was accepted by the General Synod of the Reformed Churches of South Africa (GKSA) in 2012. The testimony was published as motion 25.5 (pp. 512-513) in the ďHandeling van die tweede algemene sinode van die Gereformeerde Kerke in Suid-Afrika gehou te Potchefstroom op 4 Januarie 2012 en volgende daeĒ (Afrikaans-only web link: https://www.gksa.org.za/pdf/sinode%20argief/Sinode+2012.pdf)
The translated testimony is given below.

PUBLIC TESTIMONY REGARDING THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS FROM WITHIN SOUTH AFRICA

WE CONFESS:

that the good Lord created Planet Earth and the great universe, and that the earth and all its plenitude belong to Him; He is the great Owner of all things; (Gen. 1,2, Isa 40:26, BC Art.12, HC Sunday 9)
that He created man in his image and gave man the command and responsibility of inhabiting, cultivating, governing and conserving earth; (Gen.1:27,28, Ps.8:4-9)
that man has plunged all of creation into disorder and chaos due to his megalomania, ambition, greed and hedonism, and that the clear signs are visible everywhere in the broken relationship of man with God, of man with his fellow men and in the destruction of the environment and nature; (Gen.3:17-19, Rom.8:19-22, BC Art.14)
that God made a new beginning in this broken world with Christ and the Holy Spirit, and that He gives people renewed hearts to think and live differently in relation to all things; (Rev 21:5) furthermore, His kingdom of peace, freedom and wholeness has dawned, and He involves us as people in His process of healing and renewal;
that He ultimately over and above judgement promises a new creation, and that He calls us as humans to already head in that direction and to move that way; (2 Peter.3:10-13, Rev 21:1-5)
that the time has come to focus on manís relationship with the created reality. In the past special attention was paid to the restoration of manís relationship with God and peopleís relationships among themselves (Dt. 22:6, Prov 12:10-11).

WE ARE DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT:

the unbridled population increase of many of the nations on earth, which puts increasing and intolerable pressure on limited resources and systems that have to sustain life;
the increasingly unsustainable levels of exploitation and pollution of the biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere by man in his selfish search for more resources and energy for the sake of affluence;
the merciless way in which some countries, organisations and individuals continue to destroy the environment for the sake of their own gain, and
the extremely disproportionate distribution of wealth on earth, so that some people live in misery and famine, while others live in affluence and excess

REGARDING SOUTH AFRICA:

In spite of the attempts of different groups and dedicated individuals to protect God s earth, we are concerned about:

 the large carbon footprint of South Africa, which despite international tendencies, still primarily concentrates on the mining and processing of fossil fuels to provide in our energy needs;
the unsustainable exploitation of our marine resources by native as well as foreign nations and organisations;
the deteriorating water quality of our rivers due to poorly functioning urban waist water treatment plants, as well as pollution of surface and ground water sources by operational and exhausted mines, industries and the agricultural sector;
increasing pollution of our soil with electronic-, medical-, domestic-, industrial- and mine refuse;
unsustainable erosion of valuable agricultural land due to unsustainable tilling methods and over-grazing;
the loss of biodiversity due to a continued exploitation and destruction of the environment by people;
the seeming incapacity of leaders to decrease the gap between rich and poor.

WE CALL ON ALL PEOPLE, ALL COMPANIES, ALL INDUSTRIES, ALL GOVERNMENTS 
AND ALL RELIGIOUS GROUPS AND CHURCHES IN THE WORLD TO:

undergo a total change of heart to develop greater appreciation and sensitivity for the environment as creation of God;
to take a clear, unequivocal and public stance against the enormous pollution and abuse of the creation of God;
to meet manís responsibility with regard to the environment, to stop the pollution and destruction, and to establish responsible development programs in order to leave a liveable earth to our descendants;
to learn a simpler lifestyle and greater charitableness towards the poor and the less fortunate;
to find a healthy balance between conservation and development that on the one hand will help the poor to live with human dignity, and on the other hand will not exhaust the natural resources or harm the environment;
to lay greater emphasis on the recycling and re-use of waste materials;
to package products in an ecologically sensitive manner, with special attention to phasing out plastic as a packaging material;
to purposefully strive towards the development of alternative, sustainable energy sources;
to lessen greenhouse gas emissions drastically in order to limit the human contribution to climate change;
to approach family planning in a responsible manner and that leaders give clear guidance in this regard;
to call on religious groups and churches to keep to their prophetic testimony regarding ecological issues with clarity and more probingly;
to continuously pray that people will interact with creation as valuable gift from God in a responsible manner and that the kingdom of God will soon come to its full unfolding.

Additional resources:
The resources are given for further reading on this subject. NB: The resources in this section are not part of the official testimony of the GKSA and also does not necessarily substantiate the official testimony.

 

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