Additional Resource

Caring for God’s Creations: A Duty of Love

By Bishop Gérald Caussé

This speech was given virtually at the Florianópolis Brazil Seminario SudAmericano 2023 (an environmental stewardship conference) in Florianópolis, Brazil, on Wednesday, October 18, 2023. See a news summary of this event.

Bishop Gérald Caussé.© 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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With gratitude I welcome this opportunity to participate in this seminar. I rejoice in your opportunity to gather as brothers and sisters in the gospel, coming from many countries in South America and from diverse educational and professional backgrounds. With all my heart, I support Roble del Sur Foundation’s efforts to promote civic service and the values of the restored gospel in the public sphere. Thank you for your personal engagement and influence within your respective communities, congregations, corporations and institutions.

Living Waters

I would have loved to be with you in Florianópolis to attend this seminar in person. I have very fond memories of my many trips to Brazil and other South American countries. Last spring, while traveling in Brazil, I had the opportunity to visit Iguazu Falls. I had a memorable spiritual experience as I contemplated the stunning beauty of the falls and the enormous quantities of water rushing continuously around me. I couldn’t help but think of the abundance of the gospel blessings in our lives. God’s love, and particularly the gift of His Only Begotten Son, is often described in the scriptures as a “fountain of living water” that flows liberally and never runs dry. Traveling across the lush jungle that feeds off the waters of Iguazu Falls, I also pondered how our Creator’s love may become a spring of spiritual bounty for every man and woman who chooses to drink from it.

God’s Work of Creation

I love the account described in the first chapter of the book of Moses depicting a personal conversation that God had with Moses. God lovingly addressed Moses by calling him “my son,” then revealed before his eyes a portion of His creations, including the earth and all its inhabitants.1 1 Moses then asked: “Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so, and by what thou madest them?”2 God responded: “For mine own purpose have I made these things. … And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.”3 Then the Eternal Father declared the purpose of Earth’s creation in this foundational verse: “For behold, this is my work and my glory — to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”4

That said it all! The creation of this marvelous world in which we live is not an end in itself; it is the means by which our Heavenly Father’s eternal designs can be accomplished. This earth and everything in it — the towering mountains, the vast oceans, the fertile plains, the green valleys, the meandering rivers, the arid deserts, the innumerable variety of plants, insects, birds, and animals — everything, absolutely everything, was created for one purpose: to enable His sons and daughters to inherit immortality and exaltation in eternal family units.

As Elder Marcus B. Nash said: “Men and women are not mere interlopers or a sideshow on this earth; rather, they and the children they bring into this world are central to its purpose.”5

This earth and the heavens around it were organized as an immense stage upon which the earthly episode of our eternal lives could play out. God placed in this creation all the temporal elements necessary for the success of our mortal experience: the harmony of physical laws, the profusion of light, the seasons, the abundance of food and other natural resources, not to speak of the amazing beauty of nature — a source of joy and inspiration for His children.

In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord declared: “the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth; Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards; Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart.”6

It is humbling to think that everything upon this earth, which includes each animal, plant, and every other temporal thing created by God, was designed and formed as a gift of love for the sole purpose of perfecting, exalting and enabling the eternal happiness of mankind. The Creation is an inexpressible gift from a loving God to His children

Our Earthly Stewardship

In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord clarified the role entrusted to His children regarding His creations: “For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures. I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and things therein are mine. … For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.”7

The gift of agency does not come without responsibility. Heavenly Father entrusted His children with stewardship over His creations — a sacred duty to care for them so that each element of this world may fulfill the measure of its creation and participate in the glorious work of humanity’s salvation and exaltation.

When God created man and woman, He expressly commanded them to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”8

This divine directive has often been misinterpreted. In our Heavenly Father’s mind, the word “dominion” certainly does not mean that man is to use, consume and exhaust the resources of the earth without any restraint. On the contrary, the Lord asks us to use the earth’s resources with wisdom and measure: “Thou shall be diligent in preserving what thou hast, that thou mayest be a wise steward; for it is the free gift of the Lord thy God, and thou art his steward.”9 He also said: “And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extorsion.”10

There is a clear difference between dominion for the purpose of consuming and exhausting and dominion for nourishing, maintaining and preserving. Brigham Young taught: “All that we possess and enjoy are gifts of God to us, whether they be in earthly substance, physical constitution, or mental power; we are accountable to Him for the use we make of these precious gifts. … It is not our privilege to waste the Lord’s substance.”11

The Allegory of the Building of a Temple

Recently, I read an interesting article that drew a comparison between the building of a temple and our stewardship over divine creations. This comparison immediately caught my attention, knowing that the construction of temples all around the world is one of the responsibilities assigned to the Church’s Presiding Bishopric.

The building of a temple is comprised of three distinct but interrelated steps. First, each temple must be designed to fulfill a well-defined spiritual purpose. The intent is to provide the best possible setting for performing the sacred ordinances that only take place in the house of the Lord. Next, the temple is built physically from architectural drawings, using materials and equipment of the highest quality. Lastly, once built, the temple is regularly and carefully cleaned, maintained and updated to enable it to fulfill its spiritual mission for as long as possible.

Likewise, the creation of our beautiful earth satisfies a spiritual purpose clearly defined by our Heavenly Father. The world in which we live was designed as part of a “fabulous plan”12 prepared in heaven, aimed towards man’s salvation and exaltation. Then, the earth was physically organized by Jesus Christ in six consecutive steps, called “days,” which culminated with God’s creation of Adam and Eve, our first parents. Finally, as with a temple, the earth must be maintained and preserved, with everything therein, so that it may fulfill its divinely appointed mission for as long as is intended in Heavenly Father’s plan.

A Duty of Love

Thus, for members of the Church of Jesus Christ, preserving and caring for God’s creations should be much more than a civic duty or political responsibility. It is an expression of love towards our Creator and an indication of the sincerity of our gratitude for Him. It is also evidence of our commitment to work diligently so that His eternal plan may be fulfilled in our lives and those of our fellow beings.

Caring for the earth and taking care of the men and women who live here are inseparably connected principles. Sharon Eubank, the Church’s director of Humanitarian Aid, has observed that a major reason for population displacements in the world is the degradation of people’s natural environment. She said: “some people will say, ‘Isn’t there something more important to do? Shouldn’t we be caring for the poor as opposed to caring for the earth?’ And my question is, are they not so inextricably linked that we cannot succeed if we do one but neglect the other?”13

As the Lord’s disciples, we have an important role to play within our own communities and across the world, both to care for our brothers and sisters in need and preserve their natural environments. Furthermore, the Church as an institution strives to practice what it teaches as an example for the faithful as well as for the rest of the world. We seek to be wise stewards of natural resources, care for the wellbeing and natural environment of all people and be prepared for natural disasters and other hardships.

Wise Stewards of Natural Resources

The Church seeks to be a wise steward of natural resources through responsible management of its global operations, which includes the management of meetinghouses, temples, fleets, farms and welfare and educational facilities. This is no small task! We have thousands of employees and volunteers dedicated to managing and supporting the implementation of sustainability best practices and technology. Many of these programs have been in progress for decades. Others are more recent as we learn more about new opportunities that are available today to care for our natural environment.

To guide our sustainability efforts across our wide range of operations, we have identified six major priorities.

First, we strive to increase our energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources. For example, we recently reported on the numerous solar energy projects we have implemented globally — over 500! We are actively evaluating the feasibility and advantages of various energy solutions and opportunities.

Our second priority is to conserve water through waterwise landscape design, smart technology use, and water management plans, particularly in areas affected by drought. The grounds of the Red Cliffs Utah Temple, which was just constructed near St George, Utah, are a good example. As you can see in these pictures, we developed new landscaping adapted to this desert area, using low-water-usage plants. While water consumption has been dramatically reduced, the result is still stunningly beautiful.

Next, we seek to avoid material waste through reduction, reuse and recycling; packaging solutions; and building methods. Recently, we approved the transition from 40-70% recycled plastic to 100% recycled plastic in our sacrament cups. Working with third-party consultants to evaluate various sustainable alternatives, we discovered that the sacrament cups made from 100% recycled plastic will reduce overall carbon emissions compared to our current cups and even paper cups.

Our fourth priority is to improve air quality and reduce emissions caused by our transportation methods, such as improving the fuel efficiency of our global vehicle fleet. This includes the use of hybrid and electric vehicles as they become available and viable for different uses.

Fifth, we strive to practice sustainable design, development and construction of our buildings. If you have watched general conference over the past few years, you know the thrill of waiting for our beloved prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, to announce the construction of new temples in diverse places around the world. As we build these beautiful houses of the Lord and other facilities, we are mindful of the materials, site selection and methods needed to support their long-term operations and maintenance in an environmentally sound manner.

Finally, we prioritize sustainable farming and ranching practices in our operations around the globe. This includes the use of cover crops, crop rotation, no-till farming, grazing management, greenhouse gas capture and other best practices. These practices support land productivity and help reduce negative environmental impacts.

Recently, I was able to visit AgroReservas do Brasil (ARB), a Church farm located in Brazil. It is an excellent example of environmental stewardship and sustainability practices. ARB operates in Minas Gerais, Brazil, and prior to being purchased by the Church 20 years ago, it had been used to grow eucalyptus, citrus, and coffee, and to provide pasture for cattle. Since then, we have transitioned toward seed crop cultivation, specializing in soybean, corn, and cotton, which has been successful due to the climate, water and soil on ARB’s land. Cover crops — including sorghum, oats, rye, buckwheat and millet — are planted to help prevent soil erosion, improve soil health, control weeds and pests, and increase biodiversity in the area. Localized application of fertilizer and herbicides reduces the use of these products by up to 70%. In addition, the ARB team is preparing to install a farm-scale solar project to generate sufficient electricity for basic farm and office operations.

When asked why his work is so meaningful to him, Rubens Quadros, the general manager of the farm, shared how his love of God motivates his efforts to be a wise steward. He said, “I really know who the owner is and because of that, I try to do my best every single day. I spend my time thinking strategically, how can I do better? ... I always say [to my managers] that our task is to take good care of the soil, treat people wonderfully, and do our best in everything that we do. After that we can pray and say, ‘Lord, help us with the rain’. We need to do our best and then, I believe that the Lord will help us achieve success.”

Care for the Well-being and Natural Environment of all People

The 2022 Church Welfare and Humanitarian report stated: “Members of the Church believe that caring for the earth is closely tied to caring for those in need. … Church members participate in hundreds of environmental projects each year, including planting trees and organizing cleanup projects, in their local communities. We believe these efforts help preserve the earth, provide for future generations, and make the earth’s resources more readily available to those in need.”14

The Church is rapidly expanding its reach throughout the world to help populations that are affected by degradation of their natural environment. For example, the Church is helping plant trees in countries where deforestation has become a significant environmental challenge. In Haiti, more than 120,000 new trees have been planted by Church volunteers over the past 10 years. Likewise, in 2022, the president of Mongolia launched a national movement to plant 1 billion trees by 2030. Church volunteers helped plant an initial 1,700 trees. Last month, the Church announced a $1 million donation to provide another 140,000 trees for planting in the same area. The value of trees to improve air quality, combat rising temperatures, reduce malnutrition and beautify communities cannot be overstated.

Another example of combating environmental degradation is the ongoing collaboration between the Church and several humanitarian organizations to provide sustainable water systems to rural households in numerous countries in Latin America, Africa, and the islands of the Pacific. In Kiribati, persistent drought and rising seawater have led to a severe water crisis. Nearly all of the island’s water supplies are contaminated with brackish water or E coli. Unclean water has been linked to an increased infant mortality rate in Kiribati, which is the highest in the Pacific region. The Church has just approved a project to collaborate with the Kiribati government to fund and install solar-powered desalination. This project is expected to provide clean water for 5,000 residents for many years.

Be Prepared for Natural Disasters

Most of us are aware of the many natural disasters that significantly impact the well-being, livelihoods and circumstances of God’s children around the world. In many countries, the Church and its members are among the first responders to provide assistance to local populations affected by these events.

For example, the Church has been active in providing aid to populations affected by the devastating earthquake, which struck Türkiye and Syria last February. Our help included the distribution of hundreds of thousands of food boxes, hygiene kits and bottled water; the installation of five mobile medical clinics; and the construction of 500 housing containers for families displaced by the earthquake. More recently, the Church has also been involved in providing relief to those affected by the deadly wildfires in Maui, Hawaii. While the Church and other organizations strive to provide necessary humanitarian aid during these events, we must remember that our individual preparation and service is also key. As Church members, we are conscious of the fact that we live in a period of calamities that are caused both by human actions and the furies of nature. The prophecies about the last days are unequivocal, and there is great wisdom in preparing for the future — whether it be possible famine, disaster, wars, financial depression, pandemics, or any other unforeseen adverse circumstance. Church leaders have frequently counseled members to practice provident living by establishing home food storage, including extra water, basic food items, medications, clothing, and other supplies that could be needed in case of an emergency.

As is the case with the following example, the result is often remarkable. Hurricane Harvey was a devastating Category 4 hurricane that made landfall in Texas and Louisiana during August 2017, causing catastrophic flooding and more than 100 deaths, particularly in the Houston area. The man in the photo you see here is Phil Garner. When the flooding occurred, he was the elders’ quorum president in his ward in Houston. His own family was taken care of because they were prepared with adequate supplies, so he felt the desire to help in his community. He phoned a friend who was a sheriff deputy and said, “I have a boat — is there any way I can help?” It turns out that the sheriff’s department was completely overloaded with calls, so his friend gladly accepted the offer and gave him the address of a family in need of rescue.

As Phil took his boat to the flooded neighborhood and picked up the family, he noticed that no other rescue vehicles were out and realized that action was needed on a much larger scale. He returned home and posted on his ward’s social media group that there was a need for rescue boats, hoping that he might get another couple of boats and maybe a handful of volunteers. The next day, dozens of his ward members showed up at the designated meeting spot at their meetinghouse — many brought boats, others brought food and supplies for those who would be rescued.

Learning of the Church’s organization, the sheriff’s office began channeling requests their way, and soon the scale became so large that the meetinghouse was turned into a boat dispatch center and, eventually, into a shelter for families who arrived with nowhere else to go. As word of the effort got out, other boat owners in the community began to join in, and within a matter of days, 800 volunteers with 57 boats had come together to rescue over 850 residents. What began with one phone call from Phil turned into what some community officials called the most organized rescue effort operating anywhere in the city.

To outside observers, the management of this rescue effort seemed extraordinary. For Phil and his fellow ward members, it was simply putting into practice the principles of preparedness, service, organization and leadership which they had learned through a lifetime of Church participation.

What occurred in Houston is evidence of the principle that the Church’s welfare system, at its core, is not a massive program managed from Church headquarters. More often, it is the inspiration and initiative of individual members and their families acting on basic values of self-reliance and caring for one’s neighbor.

Our Individual Roles as Stewards of God’s Creations

Today, I am happy to address an audience principally made up of young professionals, including civic leaders and educators. President M. Russell Ballard addressed your generation in these terms: “A thing I see about your generation is your commitment to a more sustainable future for all of God’s children and creatures and the earth. Whether it is environmental, economic, or social, I would hope you will continue to find creative solutions to help protect the future for all of God’s children in our world. We should do whatever we can to protect and preserve the earth, to make life better for those who will live here.”15

My invitation is simple: it is an invitation to act! It is our responsibility as disciples of Christ to keep the fires of God’s love burning in our own hearts and to kindle it within our communities. The Lord invites us to be aware of the broader world in which we live — something which the increased worldwide connectivity now facilitates — and, at the same time, to stay rooted and engaged within our immediate communities.

The Church’s Gospel Topics expound further on this principle: “An interest in the common good can inspire Church members to participate in a variety of activities that improve the communities and nations in which they live. ... Simple acts of caring and service for neighbors or communities…make the community a better place to live.”16 The Environmental Stewardship and Conservation page provides some ideas for what this might look like. It states, “How can I get involved in my community to care for the earth? Check with your local utility company, local community groups, or on the internet to find suggestions to conserve energy and to recycle. Support community recycling programs. Consider starting a community garden. Support local civic groups that promote stewardship and conservation. Be an involved citizen in government. Be informed, respect the views of others, and treat everyone with civility.”17

In this spirit, I invite you to consider ways that you can bless your family, your community, the country in which you live and ultimately the people in need all around the world. I hope you will care for your natural environment and adopt personal lifestyles and behaviors that respect, preserve and beautify God’s wonderful creations. I hope you will set an example in reaching out to those affected by natural disasters, the degradation of their natural environment, and other hardships. I hope you will prepare yourselves and others for possible emergencies and implement Church principles of provident living and preparedness in your own lives.

Lastly, one of the most important things you may ever do is to pray and ask God to bless and protect you and the community in which you live. The scriptures are replete with examples that demonstrate the importance of accompanying our personal and collective efforts with diligent prayer.


My brothers and sisters, I express to you my gratitude for your personal example and your positive influence on those around you. I testify that this earth, and everything on it, was created by a God who is filled with infinite love for His children. The Creation is part of a loving plan to bring us and our families back into our Heavenly Father’s presence and allow us to participate in His creative work.

God has entrusted us with stewardship over His creations, including that of caring for His children — our brothers and sisters. Acting in this stewardship is a way of sharing the love that our Creator extends to us. Every disciple of Christ should feel the importance of blessing their families and the community in which they live.

In closing, I testify that God and His Son, Jesus Christ, love us and that God created a plan of happiness that applies to each one of us. We can experience tremendous joy as we diligently help carry out this plan in behalf of ourselves, our families, and our communities, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


1. See Moses 1:3-8.

2. Moses 1:30.

3. Moses 1:31-33.

4. Moses 1:39.

5. Marcus B. Nash, “Righteous Dominion and Compassion for the Earth,” 18th Annual Stegner Center Symposium, April 12, 2013.

6. Doctrine and Covenants 59:16-18.

7. Doctrine and Covenants 104:13-14, 17.

8. Genesis 1:28.

9. Doctrine and Covenants 136:27.

10. Doctrine and Covenants 59:20.

11. Journal of Discourses, 11:136.

12. Russell M. Nelson, “Think Celestial!,” Liahona, November 2023.

13. Sharon Eubank, “That We May Be One,” LDS Earth Stewardship, Nov. 20, 2019,

14. Caring for Those in Need: 2022 Annual Report of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

15. M. Russell Ballard, “Children of Heavenly Father,” Brigham Young University devotional, March 3, 2020,

16. Gospel Topics, “Citizenship.”

17. Gospel Topics, “Environmental Stewardship and Conservation.”

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