Let Justice Roll Down Introduction/Lesson One

June 5, 2024
Lesson 1 Artwork: "All the Words" by Lorraine Roy

Lesson One: Environmental Justice

Scripture: Ezekiel 33:21; 34:8; 17; 18–19

It has been over ten years since my first environmental Bible study, Inhabiting Eden: Christians, the Bible, and the Ecological Crisis was published by WJK Press. It has been read by thousands of individuals and studied together by dozens, if not hundreds, of churches and groups. Since much has happened, both encouraging and discouraging, regarding nature and climate change since 2013, I would have considered the book outdated by now. Interestingly, one change has been a greatly increased concern about climate change and other pressing issues in the U.S. population, including Presbyterians. As a result, every month I hear about another group that is reading the book for the first time and considering how to jumpstart their commitment to environmental action.

Groups often invite me to join them for a session, live or by Zoom. A recurring question is, “What has changed in ten years, for better or worse?” A second one is, “How can we help promote environmental justice?” Because of questions like these, I was delighted that the Bible study committee of Presbyterian Women’s Board of Directors invited me to write this year’s study Let Justice Roll Down: God’s Call to Care for Neighbors and All Creation. And even more delighted that the Rev. Rebecca Barnes, who is not only the key PC(USA) staff person overseeing these matters but also a good friend, agreed to write the Suggestions for Leaders, and that Lorraine Roy allowed Horizons to use her beautiful textile artwork for the study.

There has never been a more crucial, nor more exciting, time for congregations to learn and implement environmental justice measures. Crucial, because after decades of inaction, most people are now not only seeing the urgency to act, but also have armloads of tools at our disposal to do so—not just in barely significant ways like recycling, but in large, life-changing and world-altering ways. Exciting, because to the extent we are able to act now, we will see a new world emerging, not a world of shrinking possibilities but one of greater prosperity for more people and greater health for all species.

The range of possible actions can be so daunting to sort through as to freeze us in paralysis. Stepping stones to action are not useful destinations in themselves, but are helpful in guiding us toward our goals of ever greater effectiveness as actors and advocates for environmental health and in exercising our muscles. As long as we keep moving and keep our sights on long-term goals, taking these steps matters.

The introduction and first chapter to Let Justice Roll Down offer foundational biblical passages and understandings to get us started pondering what justice means in our world and, specifically, what environmental justice means. A careful reading and discussion of these sections will prepare your group to begin, in Lesson 2, to explore specific, identifiable, fixable environmental justice arenas. These are just the beginning.

As you explore these lessons together, you will no doubt find yourselves expressing distinct differences of understanding and interest. That is not a problem. If you recall Jesus’ Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:3–9, and its interpretation in verses 18–23, you will recognize that receptivity can vary from person to person for reasons that may not be obvious. But the hopeful point Jesus makes is that yield from the seed that finds itself on fertile ground will more than make up for obstacles encountered elsewhere. In this imperfect world, I urge you to work lovingly with the insights and resources available among you. Not everyone will participate in the same way, but that should not hold others back from moving forward as God leads them. It only takes a small percentage of us to change the world, and we each bring different talents to doing so. My prayer is that you, as a Presbyterian woman, will reap the joy of being part of a movement that your children and grandchildren will—today or someday—be proud that you joined.

Patricia K. Tull
Author of the 2024–2025 PW/Horizons Bible study, Let Justice Roll Down: God’s Call to Care for Neighbors and All Creation


This blog is the first in a series of nine blogs.

Presbyterian Women in the PC(USA), Inc. publishes an annual Bible study. Let Justice Roll Down is the study for this year. You can purchase a Let Justice Roll Down Bible study book (HZN24100) and study along with us. Call 800/533-4371 or order online.