by Rev. Amy Brooks
It is amazing that all faith traditions teach some version of this truth: that the earth is a sacred gift and that humanity is expected to take care of this gift. Sadly though, when we look around we realize we must do a better job, not just for the planet but for all the people who are suffering in the face of environmental and climate injustice.
That’s why, on May 20 – 21, Clean Air Carolina, ecoAmerica, GreenFaith, and Good Solar are partnering with the City of Charlotte and many communities of faith to host a two-day summit entitled ‘Greening Our Faith Communities.’
People of faith have a unique role to play in the effort to create the kind of world we hope to leave the next generation — a healthy community based on compassion, equity, and justice. Here are some contributions that people and communities of faith can make:
Spiritual gifts — Scripture, songs, and prayers can help us lay a foundation for the work ahead as we transition to a more just energy system and a healthier community.
Physical resources — The buildings and land used by faith groups could be retooled and put to use in this communal effort. For example, we can improve energy efficiency at houses of worship, establish community gardens providing nutritious and sustainable food, and set up learning centers in our houses of worship to teach our communities about the climate crisis and what we can do to stop it.
Moral leadership — Historically, many social justice movements have grown from the leadership of faith communities.
Social reach — 84% of the world’s population say they are part of some faith or spiritual tradition.
Greening our faith communities means aligning the teachings of our faith with our actions when it comes to how we treat the most vulnerable. More specifically, greening our faith communities means reducing asthma and heart disease; it means bringing new jobs into communities; it means providing affordable housing. The list goes on.
The upcoming Summit is a wonderful opportunity for us to share ideas, put our faith into action, support one another’s efforts, and learn how we can create a stronger and healthier community for everyone.
The keynote address will be given by Rabbi Judy Schindler, Director of the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University. Rabbi Schindler will speak on the theological and social foundations of why faith communities care about creation and environmental justice.
Other topics and opportunities include:
· Impacts of climate change
· Existing efforts of faith communities
· Ideas and skills building for engagement and advocacy
· Networking with others on this path
We hope you’ll join us in building a movement for creation care in the Charlotte region. You can register for the conference here. In the meantime, we are collecting stories about congregations making a commitment to care for our planet and its people. Contact me at [email protected] to share your story or for more information about the Summit.
Rev. Amy Brooks is a Unitarian Universalist minister, and the North Carolina Organizer for GreenFaith. To learn more about the Greening Our Faith Communities Summit, visit www.cleanaircarolina.org/green-faith-summit.