REFLECTION:"The Genesis of Environmentalism"
The following reflection appeared as "The Genesis of Environmentalism" in the Baltimore Sun a few years ago by IPC's former Board Chair, Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin. It continues to be relevant as those of us at the intersection of faith and environment often hear criticism that the Bible's implication of "dominion" perpetuates a harmful relationship with the environment. In this essay she examines the very different lessons found in the first two Creation stories of Genesis 1 and 2. By doing so, she resolves the contradictory claim that the Bible has perpetuated a destructive dominance of the earth, with insight that in fact, Genesis 2 has within its roots the seeds of a healing relationship with earth.
In 1967, historian Lynn White Jr. ignited a firestorm that burns still today. In a widely discussed article titled "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis," he laid a charge at the doorstep of the Judeo-Christian community: The Bible is responsible for the world's environmental degradation. The Bible and its story of creation, he argued, sowed the seeds of the destructive mandate that animates Western civilization. Humans were given the right, the calling, by God to "be fruitful and multiply, fill the Earth and master it." Charged by this narrative, the Western world has taken "dominion" to be one of the highest callings of human existence. In such a view, the Earth and all its vast resources are mere fuel and fodder for our delight and consumption, whether fruitful or frivolous.
The faith community has spilled much ink debunking White, arguing that "mastery" and "dominion" here do not mean exploitation of the world's goodness but rather benevolent caretaking, stewardship. I think that is a better, truer and richer reading of the text, but I also believe there is a stronger way to respond to White.Find out what that way is by reading the remainder of her essay here.What do you draw from these two readings of the Creation story and what they teach us about our human role in relationship to all of Creation? Let us know!
Covenantal Partners Program - New Round Opening
We are preparing to offer the Covenantal Partners Program (CPP) again, in light of the success of the first pilot round. This program offers congregations a facilitated process that helps your community gain the knowledge and spiritual context they need to prioritize and take action to heal water. Congregations in the pilot delivered final projects that ranged from educational programs/spiritual programs for their members to installation of green infrastructure.
We have not narrowed down the regional focus for this next round, so regardless of where you live, if you're interested to learn more about CPP and put your name on the interest list, please contact our Executive Director [email protected]. Or call 410-609-6852.
Creation Care for Congregations: Connecting Faith to Action
This faith-based course, created and instructed by Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, will focus on equipping faith leaders with the spiritual knowledge, communication skills, and organizing capacity to lead their communities of faith to be engaged in care for Creation and watershed stewardship.
We suggest you attend both sessions, but you are welcome to register for just one. Register for each session separately at the links below.
Session 1: Inspire and Lead your Faith Community, June 14, 6-9 p.m.
Explore the foundational teachings of your own and of other faith traditions about care for Creation and watershed stewardship. Learn how to develop your own faith message to inspire and motivate others to become actively engaged in caring for sacred waters as faithful stewards. The role of faith community in the environmental movement will be presented with models of how congregations have put their faith into action. Participants will hear success stories and lessons learned from congregations already engaged in Creation Care. Thanks to our friends at the Church of the Redeemer in Baltimore for hosting these workshops. (photo at left is their raingarden)
Click HERE to register for Session 1
Session 2: Tools for Faith Based Organizing and Mobilizing Creation Care Ministry, June 21, 2016 6-9 p.m.
Learn about how different faiths address these questions: Why do you feel called to care for Creation? What specific sources inspire you from your faith tradition or sacred texts? Methods and models for doing outreach within your own faith tradition and within an interfaith context will be explored. Specific tools and strategies will be offered for helping the congregation move toward developing an earthcare ministry, green team, or environmental stewardship program. Participants will be guided to develop their own communications such as a press release, bulletin announcement, or a blessing or prayer for a watershed project.
A Blessing for your sacred grounds?
Trees for Sacred Placesmight be just the way to bring prayer and practice together! Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, in partnership with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, is looking for faith owned properties throughout Maryland (and specifically in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties), including congregational grounds, retreat centers, summer camps, retirement housing, religious schools, etc. with space for trees. Looking to convert large lawns back into natural habitats. Essentially, the program provides a professional planting plan, native trees, deer protection, all necessary tools to plant AND environmental and spiritual workshops (tailored to the congregation or religious school's needs) about the importance of planting trees - - all for FREE. Additionally we'll provide sample liturgy for the blessing of your trees! (Blessing of the trees at Holy Family Catholic Church in the photo at right.)
You can learn more about the program on our webpage HERE.
Wildlife & Watershed Workshop at Silver Spring United Methodist Church on June 5, 2-5:30 pm. Come learn how you can welcome a wider diversity of wildlife into your community and local stream. Tour wildlife garden and conservation project. Speakers include leaders from the National Wildlife Federation, Montgomery County Department of the Environment and Friends of Sligo Creek. See flyer HERE.
Sacred Earth, Sacred Trust has designated June 12 as a worldwide, multi-faith day of prayer and action for the planet and a call for world leaders to commit to a 1.5 degree limit on global temperature rise. Click HERE to commit to participate or to learn more.
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