By Nolen Nychay
For Reverend Ryan Bennett, creation care is about encouraging environmental responsibility through the Biblical principles of stewardship. At Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Franklin, Tenn., Bennett uses the philosophy “love the Creator, love His creations” to discuss the looming threat of mountaintop removal, spurring a rising interest — especially amongst younger age groups — in supporting green initiatives.
Bennett is involved with the Tennessee Lindquist Environmental Appalachian Fellowship, a faith-based group that charitably distributes educational creation care materials to rural communities, and advocates for political action against mountaintop removal. For the past several years, the group has supported the Scenic Vistas Protection Act, a proposed bill that would ban surface mining on ridgelines above 2,000 feet in Tennessee. Their ultimate goal is ending the practice completely, under the slogan “Only God should move mountains.”
Bennett also serves as a board member for Blessed Earth, a national nonprofit and major proponent of religious environmental stewardship that was recently awarded a $1.5 million Duke Endowment grant to promote green practices in more than 2,000 Tennessee and North Carolina Methodist churches. The grant will fund a series of workshops on energy efficiency and recycling initiatives for seminaries, and, additionally, supplies churches like Bennett’s with creation care sermons, books and films.
Inspired by his wife Heather’s work toward a master’s degree in Sustainable Development, Bennett embraces creation care as an opportunity to transcend political differences and remind Christians that “loving thy neighbor” includes leaving a healthy environment for tomorrow’s neighbors.
To learn more, visit creationcare.org