Friday, August 29, 2014

Faith groups are called to action on climate crisis

Susan Stephenson, executive director of The Regeneration Project and Interfaith Power and Light Campaign, urges members of faith groups to take steps to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Courtesy photo

From page A3 | February 24, 2013 |

“Our current way of living is not compatible with the planet we live on. The good news is, we have an opportunity to do something about it now. If we make changes in our lifestyle and in our public policy in relation to the Earth itself, future generations will reap the benefits of our wisdom and self-restraint.

“For people of faith, it means caring for God’s good and sacred creation. For everyone it means working together to preserve the only home we have.”
— Pastor Daniel Smith, Lutheran Church of the Incarnation

By Juliette Beck

With football season, elections and holidays over, now is a good time for people of faith to turn their attention to pressing social and environmental issues — especially the climate crisis. On Sunday, March 3, representatives of Yolo County religious communities will host an afternoon conference: “Climate Crisis: Putting Faith into Action.”

Clergy, leaders, members of “green teams,” and any interested congregants and members of the public are invited to attend the free, multi-faith gathering to explore what people of faith can do together to slow their own contributions to climate change and to lead the whole community to a more sustainable future.

Get involved

What: “Climate Crisis: Putting Faith into Action,” a free conference

When: 2-5 p.m. Sunday, March 3

Where: Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, 27074 Patwin Road


Register at: and indicate preferred workshop

The program includes expert speakers and a choice of four workshops, providing the latest research on climate change and practical ways to green facilities, engage congregations and advocate for the planet and those already impacted by climate change.

“This conference is open to all faith groups in the region that wish to learn about how our congregations can work through both a spiritual and practical context to address the challenges that come with a changing, unstable climate,” says conference organizer Judy Moores, a member of Cool Davis and the Universal Unitarian Church of Davis.

“For the first time in the history of the planet, the actions of one species — our own — affects the viability of all life. Whatever your beliefs — for we do not have to believe alike to cherish life — I invite you to attend the Climate Crisis conference. Come with a sense of reverence, compassion and justice. Come to learn, to share, and to find hope. Come to join the sacred, great work that lies ahead. What we do locally matters.”

After a brief opening, UC Davis geology professor Isabel Montanez will provide the background for the day with the latest scientific insights into climate change and the potential impacts for California.

The keynote address will be given by Susan Stephenson, executive director of the Regeneration Project and its Interfaith Power and Light campaign. The Regeneration Project is a national interfaith organization whose mission is to galvanize a religious response to global warming through both education and advocacy, which has grown over the past decade to include more than 560 member congregations in California alone, and thousands more across the country.

“All faith traditions speak about the importance of being stewards of creation,” Stephenson says. “Working within a faith group is much more powerful than trying to motivate individuals. We are not only tapping the built-in infrastructure to talk about the issue honestly, based on the latest scientific reports, but we are also providing proactive solutions to affect state and local policy.”

Stephenson notes that climate change is also a social justice and public health issue. From air pollution to droughts to rising seas, it is poor people who are being hit first and worst by global warming.

After a short break, participants may choose from four workshops. While each workshop will be led by experts, those attending are invited to share their own insights and ideas. Topics include:

* “Developing an Environmentally Sustainable Church”: Internal, institutional transformations such as building upgrades, transportation options, reducing consumption, etc., led by Jim Cramer of the United Methodist Church of Davis and Dina Biscotti of the Lutheran Church of the Incarnation;

* :Engaging Hearts and Minds to Build Sustainable Lifestyles”: Starting with a faith’s unique spiritual imperative, ways to support and help transform a congregation’s households, led by the Rev. Kelly Love, minister of the United Methodist Church of Davis, and Stephenson;

* “Integrating the Care for Creation into Liturgy”: Ways to make the environment and our moral and religious responsibility as humans an integral part of most worship services, led by the Rev. Ernie Lewis of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and Pastor Dan Smith of the Lutheran Church of the Incarnation; and

* “Acting Ethically for a Planet in Peril”: Considerations and practical ideas for advocacy beyond the local congregation — including spiritual/moral imperatives to pursue social and environmental justice in the context of people, both locally and in places around the world, who are and will be affected by climate change even though they have not contributed the cause, led by Rev. Earl W. Koteen, consulting minister for environmental justice, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry California, climate and water advocacy; and Libby Scholes, director of public policy, California Council of Churches/California Church IMPACT.

Chris Granger, interim volunteer executive director of Cool Davis, notes the importance of the conference and the role of faith communities in achieving this goal.

“Climate change is likely to disrupt things we take for granted — water, crops, weather, availability of resources,” Granger says. “Faith institutions are one of the places where people come to talk about changes happening in their daily lives, including instability and economic hardship. We have a responsibility to provide leadership to help guide families through this crisis. Faith groups have a vital role to play in building resilient communities.”

The conference is sponsored by Cool Davis and faith group partners for this event: Green Task Force of Davis United Methodist Church, Green Sanctuary Committee of Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, and Stewards of God’s Creation Group of Davis Community Church plus Green Team of Lutheran Church of the Incarnation, God’s Creation Committee of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and EarthCare Group of Davis Friends Meeting. Members of the Muslim community also will participate.

— Juliette Beck, the mother of two young daughters, is a member of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and Cool Davis



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