Supporting the Environment through Interfaith Efforts

This year’s mission focus on the environment culminates with the Interfaith Celebration for the Earth on Sunday, April 23.

The focus began last spring when our congregation was designated a level one “green congregation” by the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ. Noted local photographer, Uli Rose, displayed his beautiful landscape photos in our church. Also, a newsletter column provided helpful hints in, “After the Light Bulbs and the Recycling.” We worked with local environmental groups to compile for the first time a local environmental directory.

Religious focus on the environment has a rich history. Some of the best-known environmental organizations in the United States began with religious or spiritual roots. According to the Greenpeace website, it was a Quaker couple, Dorothy and Irving Stowe, among the founding members, who brought the idea of “bearing witness,” a sort of passive resistance. Sierra Club’s most prominent founder, John Muir, was a deeply spiritual man who saw the presence of the divine in nature.

Environmental Activism and Stewardship

Many interfaith organizations are involved in environmental activism and stewardship. Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) is a national organization with affiliates in 40 states, promoting energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Our church is a member of New York Interfaith Power & Light (NYIPL; see www.nyipl.org). From their mission statement, “We help congregations reduce their carbon footprint, increase energy efficiency, use renewable energy, and educate their members on climate change. We also encourage people of faith to speak up at community, state and national levels about global warming, and to collaborate with other faith communities in these efforts.”

Is there a role for our church in supporting interfaith efforts on behalf of the environment? Just as the environmental directory is helping to encourage support of local environmental groups, the Interfaith Celebration for the Earth is an opportunity for our church to encourage support of organizations like Interfaith Power and Light. Our small church can do big things!

—D. Dooren for the Missions Group