UMC/LAC Targets Planting 250,000 Trees

United Methodists living in Liberia have been challenged to plant over 250,000 trees as part of a campaign to save the earth from the effects of climate change. The call to action was made by Jefferson Knight, the head of the Human Rights Monitor office of the Libera Conference, during the observance of Peace with Justice Week in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County, Liberia.

Addressing students from various schools in Buchanan, Knight said climate change and environmental issues should be the concerns of all, adding: “Our efforts in addressing these issues will make the world a better place for us, our children and the next generation to come.” He said the theme “Addressing Climate Change to Save the Earth” for this year’s Peace with Justice celebration demonstrates the United Methodist Church commitment, dedication and readiness to address climate change challenges in Liberia and the world.

According to the UMC Communication Service, he pointed out that the Liberia Conference, through its Human Rights Monitor, took the initial step of planting more than 1,500 trees of various species in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County, in response to addressing the danger that deforestation, sea erosion and flooding posed to the city and the earth in general.

“We will encourage young people, traditional leaders, clergy, marketers, motorcyclists, farmers, the police and the military to get involved in the tree-planting initiatives,” Knight emphasized. He further indicated that Liberia and other underdeveloped countries were facing significant risks of climate-sensitive activities such as heavy rainfall, damaging winds and rising sea levels.

“As we celebrate Peace with Justice Sunday in Liberia and across our United Methodist connections, let us understand that we have a responsibility as people of faith to champion and lead the campaign for the protection and sustainability of God’s peace within our communities by properly caring for His creation: the earth,” Knight concluded.

Francis L. Koon, one of the instructors who accompanied his students to the parade, said planting the trees was a good step taken by the United Methodist Church in Liberia.

“My father had houses in KorKor Wein and those houses and the entire community are now buried under the Atlantic Ocean,” he stressed. Koon said the fight against the rising sea level is huge for the church alone to undertake, but planting trees was a significant contribution that would save the roofs of the houses from the stormy winds that frequent Buchanan City. “Twenty years ago, you would walk a distance to go on the beach but now, the beach and the city are becoming a community,” he lamented.

Commenting on Knight’s statement, Liberian Bishop Samuel J. Quire Jr. said the United Methodist Church needs to do more than planting trees to help the government combat climate change.

“We need to launch a special awareness-building campaign that will teach Liberians the importance of planting trees as a way of protecting the environment,” Quire said.

Quire noted that the conference’s Human Rights Monitor needs to track logging companies’ activities and call government attention to the companies’ failure to honor their reforestation agreement. He also said the conference needs to be intentional in planting trees at all of its mission stations to ensure that strong winds will not destroy homes there.

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