THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH AND ORGANIZATIONAL POLICIES
United Methodist Women are
governed by several layers of Church policy that form the foundation for
implementing environmentally just guidelines when planning events.
The Social Principles
‘The Social Principles’
found in The Book of Discipline for the United Methodist Church serves
as the base for the entire Church’s call to environmentally just action. Below
are relevant excerpts:
The Natural World
‘All creation is the Lord’s
and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air,
soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be
valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because
they are useful to human beings. Therefore we repent of our devastation of the
physical and non-human world. Further, we recognize the responsibility of the
church toward lifestyle and systemic changes in society that will promote a
more ecologically just world and a better quality of life for all creation...’
The Social Community
‘We affirm all persons as
equally valuable in the sight of God. We therefore work toward societies in
which each person's value is recognized, maintained, and strengthened.
We support the basic rights of all persons to equal access to housing,
education, employment, medical care, legal redress for grievances, and physical
protection...we recognize racism as a sin...’
The Economic Community
‘We claim all economic
systems to be under the judgment of God no less that other facets of the
created order... We believe private and public economic enterprises are
responsible for the social costs of doing business, such as employment and
environmental pollution, and that they should be held accountable for these
General Conference Resolutions
Caring for Creation 2000
Shows the Church’s
commitment to protecting and preserving the environment for the benefit of
present and future generations.
The Church and God's creation
Encourage a simplified and
environmentally sound lifestyle throughout the Church.
A Dioxin-Free Future -
Calls on cancer research
organizations to move to a prevention-based approach to cancer research and
funding, including more studies on the relationship between cancer and
chlorine-based toxins in the environment. The United Methodist Church supports
a phase out of the production of dioxin, beginning with the immediate action on
the three largest sources of dioxin: incineration of chlorine containing
wastes, bleaching of pulp and paper with chlorine, and the entire life cycle of
polyvinyl chloride plastic. The Church supports worker production programs for
people working in industries that make toxic chemicals or result in toxic
by-product and related chemicals, who may lose their jobs with a phase out of
A Dioxin-Free Future -
Calls for the phase-out of
processes that create dioxin
Steps Toward a
Dioxin-Free Future 2000
Lays out specific steps that
the Church should take towards a chlorine-free future:
1) Challenges al United
Methodist-related health care institutions, United Methodist health care
professionals and workers, and United Methodist individuals and congregations
to begin immediately to take action to change health care policies and
practices in order to stop the harm being caused by the nonessential
incineration of medical waste and by generating a waste stream that is more
toxic than necessary.
2) Urges all health care facilities to
explore ways to reduce or eliminate their use of PVC plastics.
3) Calls upon all health care professionals
and workers to encourage health care institutions with which they are
associated to adopt policies that will lead to the reduction and elimination of
the use of PVC plastics.
4) Suggests that health care facilities hire
or assign professional staff to evaluate the potential for persistent toxic
pollution associated with the life-cycle of products the facility purchases.
5) Strongly urges medical suppliers to
develop, produce and bring to market appropriate, cost-competitive products
that can replace those that contain PVC or other chlorinated plastics. Any
substitution for a chlorinated plastic product must provide a less toxic
alternative with concern for the full public health implications of the
replacement, including infectious considerations.
6) Encourages government oversight agencies
and private accrediting bodies to incorporate requirements for education about
the reduction of toxic pollution in their certification standards.
7) Encourages study and evaluation of
alternative products and practices that will lead to the reduction and
elimination of the use of PVC products; also encourages programs to provide
technical assistance and training to health care facilities that seek help in
the reduction of their reliance on chlorinated plastics.
Environmental Justice for
a Sustainable Future 2000, 1996
Calls on the focus on the
conversion to sustainable practices in the following areas: atmosphere, earth,
water and energy. Calls on the agencies and the local congregations to become
involved in sustainable practices.
Environmental Justice for
a Sustainable Future - 1992
Calls for developing
worship, mission, and social action programs related to ecological justice;
call for annual conferences and local churches to become involved in
Environmental Racism -
2000, 1996, 1992
Calls for church programs to
combat environmental racism; to reduce use of hazardous chemicals; to become
aware of the social and health impact of how waste is disposed
Offers principles of
environmental stewardship and calls all United Methodists to implement them
God's Creation and the Church 2000
Calls on the church to adopt
fresh ways to respond to the perils that now threaten the integrity of God's creation and the future of God's children.
God's Vision of Abundant Living - 1996
Calls for assessing patterns
of consumption and consumerism and urges moving toward a more simplified
Indoor Air Pollution -
Examines sources of indoor
air pollution; calls on United Methodists to assess this problem in various locations
and work to correct it
Reduction of Water Usage
by United Methodist - 1992
Calls for conserving water
and using water-conserving technology
Safety and Health in
Workplace and Community - 1988
Calls for preventing public
health hazards, particularly the creation of toxic wastes; greater community
and workplace awareness of exposure threats
U.S. Agriculture and
Rural Communities in Crisis - 1996
Urges work to bolster
ecologically sustainable agriculture; to support family and small-scale farms
Recycling and the Use of
Recycled Products 2000
Calls on the Church and its
agencies to participate in recycling programs for paper, plastic, glass and
metal; to use recycled and ‘processed chlorine-free’ paper.
Use of Reclaimed Paper
Calls for use of recycled
United Methodist Women/Women’s
At the fall 1997 board
meeting, the directors of the Division voted unanimously that the Division use
only chlorine-free products. This was a practical way to implement the General
Conference resolution, ‘A Dioxin-Free Future.’ The resolution also arose out
of mounting evidence on the connection between dioxin contamination and various
severe health problems in women and children, including reproductive cancers
(such as breast cancer).
One of the primary causes
of dioxin production is chlorine bleaching in the pulp and paper industry. The
relevant section of the resolution reads;
‘...Women’s Division begin
to model environmental responsibility with respect to dioxin contamination.
This would require the Division to:
Use chlorine-free paper for all
its copying and publishing needs;
Switch to chlorine-free products
whenever possible (e.g.; toilet paper, paper towels, linens, non-chlorine
bleaches) in all its offices and facilities;
...encourage United Methodist
Women to do likewise...
1. Practice Garbage Prevention!
2. Recycle and Buy Recycled!
Maintain zero tolerance
for producing toxins!
of the major myths of the industrial era is the there are safe and acceptable
levels of pollution. There aren’t. The only safe level of toxins anywhere is
zero. We need to phase out our dependency on chemicals and on radioactive
materials that can cause a range of health problems such as cancers, respiratory
diseases, miscarriages, learning difficulties, and birth defects. This is a
two-pronged effort: We need to phase out our direct use of toxic products. We
also must alter what we consume so that we do not use goods that require toxic
chemicals in their manufacture or produce toxins during the disposal process.
Produce and Consume
Locally Grown Food!
Use Natural, Safe
Materials (i.e. avoid Styrofoam)!
Promote the Total
Well-Being of Participants
For further information and
more action ideas contact:
Office of Community Action
475 Riverside Dr. Room 1502
New York, NY 10115
updated from Green Guidance, How to Plan Environmentally Responsible Events,
Jun 02, 2004