Reverend Don Searles caught my attention: “Did you hear Roger’s statement on climate change?”

Reverend Searles had my attention not just because he’s my dad (or because he’d just caught me running late) but because I’d never heard Dr. Roger Paynter – the senior pastor at First Baptist, Church Austin, speak about global warming before. Ever. Seriously, who does that during a sermon? What’d he say? I asked. Dad heard: 

“Climate change is real and it’s being caused by us. It’s our responsibility to respond to it, and even if we’re not causing it – it’s our responsibility.”

The funny thing about growing up in First Baptist Church, Austin, is everything I learned about environmental care I learned from the people of that church. When I was a kid it wasn’t Sunday School or parables that molded my worldview, it was the examples I saw lived by the adults. Those teachers, parents, family friends, staff, elderly, and so on taught me, by example, to always be curious about doing the right thing. Ask questions, find solutions, share. That’s what I learned at church.


First Baptist Church, Austin, founded 1847

Christian eco author, family man, and full time Kentucky farmer, Wendell Berry recently told Bill Moyers, “We have to ask what’s the right thing to do and go ahead and do it.” One of the greatest things about progressive religious communities is their commitment to that value. From this perspective my father’s recounting of how Rev. Paynter sees climate change just makes sense.

Here’s what Dr. Paynter actually said, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013; a declaration I am proud to be associated with: 

“Science and faith are not enemies. Curiosity is a gift from the creator, not something to be afraid of…

“What speaks to me most is a theology that we all need more of; a theology that all of life is sacred and holy. All the earth is holy ground, though we’ve done our part to make it unholy enough. 

“Just this week the most comprehensive study yet was released – demonstrating, from a consortium of the strongest scientists we have in this world, that there is climate change and despite what the head in the sand crowd wants to believe, it is mostly our responsibility. 

“God gave us this extraordinary, amazing gift of Creation which is HOLY indeed, and we have consistently misused it, not only with environmental abuse, but fouling it daily with hate and bigotry and greed…”

-- Rev. Dr. Roger Paynter, 9/29/13

The First Baptist Church Green Team is moving forward with some initiatives this Fall to reduce FBC’s carbon footprint. 

-- Written by Chris Searles for the First Baptist Church of Austin Green Team, “Why I Care Series” 2013

“The Earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains. 
The world, and all who live in it.”
Psalm 24:1 NIV


© 2013 Interfaith Environmental Network