In many ways, 2014 showed us that we still live in a world where struggles for resources drive conflict, ideologies drive hate, and greed and fear drive oppression. We are seeing more and more clearly that our climate is irreversibly changing, as droughts and natural disasters mount, the seasons fail, and plants and species migrate and/or die off.
We also saw, more vividly than ever before, that environmental justice is a way to heal the divisions that plague us. People of all races, ages, nations and religious backgrounds are unifying around a struggle to steward the creation on which we all rely. Whether religious, agnostic, spiritual or secular, most of us can value the importance of a loving relationship with other people, other living beings, and the rest of the natural world. In 2014 we came together, raising one voice in support of this kind of relationship over one that exploits and destroys.
The Church is resounding with this call as well. As individuals, we cannot thrive for long without clean water, clean air, fresh food, or without the balanced eco-systems and healthy soil that make these resources continually available. As Christians, we cannot thrive until we see our brothers and sisters and children enjoying this quality of life as well. Below are a few of the moments that marked 2014 with the spirit captured in the Ubi Caritas prayer:
WHERE charity and love are, God is there.
As we are gathered into one body,
Beware, lest we be divided in mind.
Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease,
And may Christ our God be in our midst.
PROGRESS IN 2015
The People’s Climate March
400,000 people or so showed us for this lil’ gathering in New York City, sending the message loud and clear that we are holding leaders accountable on climate change. A full city block of people from religious communities joined the march, including dozens from SP&SA. And it seems like world leaders are starting to listen…
Fracking Banned in New York State
Protest and action on the part of citizens put pressure on Governor Cuomo to ban hydraulic fracturing, a process that extracts natural gas (which contributes to climate change) and has been shown inflict extensive environmental damage. A special thanks to our friends at Riverside Church Beloved Earth Community, who attended many anti-fracking rallies to make this happen!
Religious Communities Push for Divestment
The Unitarian Church, United Church of Christ and Union Theological Seminary have already divested from fossil fuels, and now a great number of churches and synagogues are making the same push. Since September, Riverside Church has hosted a seminar on divestment and the Religious Communities for Divestment meet-ups have brought out representatives from many denominations. In the Methodist Church, Fossil Free UMC is is pushing to get annual conferences to divest as well as the general conference in 2016.
The United Methodist Women Carbon Fund
United Methodist Women, a global, 800,000 member strong community of social-justice-minded women, amped up their environmental justice efforts, establishing a Carbon Fund to fight climate change and stressing the message of stewardship on the global and regional levels. Climate Change disproportionally effects women worldwide, who are often the sole providers for their family, tend the land, and have tenuous access to health care as it is. The UMW are coming to the rescue with the zest, passion and love for which they are known!
GreenFaith and Our Voices
GreenFaith is an interfaith organization promoting environmental action through faith. It has served as a sort of loci for faith communities, educating, empowering and connecting dozens of groups and shining the stewardship message out into the larger culture. This year GreenFaith helped launch Our Voices, which aims to bring faith to the upcoming climate talks in Paris. Vigils were held world wide for the preliminary Lima talks, to basically favorable outcome. Sign the petition here!
SP&SA Steps Up to the Plate
We’ve switched to composting, crowded the Climate March and hosted protestors, run energy audits, shared local meals and meditated and prayed and committed ourselves to environmental mission. I’m so proud of you, SP&SA!!
HOPE FOR 2015
As much progress was made in 2014, we are just getting started. Have you heard about Pope Francis’s plan to directly address the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics on climate change? On a smaller scale, we’ve got some plans cooking for SP&SA too. Stay tuned & shine on!