Facing the Climate Crisis: Called to Save Our Sacred Home
“The natural world is the larger sacred community to which we belong. To be alienated from the community is to become destitute in all that makes us human. To damage this community is to diminish our own existence.” Thomas Berry
Environmental degradation and global warming is happening, and humans are the primary cause. Pope Francis reminds us that we are all called to care for our “common home” and we have been challenged to make choices at every moment, to decide for life and for trust despite the fear, greed, and hatred. The interconnectedness of our systems means that we must care for the Earth and her atmosphere if we are to care for one another.
We are challenged to reawaken ourselves and our relationship to the living world and our love for life. This inspires us to serve, united by a shared spiritual center and calling.
We invite our interfaith community to work together to
- Strengthen our partnerships with allies working on divestment and other modes of nonviolent resistance to the fossil fuel industry
- Work to stop the degradation of our air, water, and food
- Educate and advocate for clean, safe energy jobs that will improve the health of neighbors and workers
- Transition to decentralized clean energy and large-scale ecosystem restoration
- Model sustainable practices
- Unite with those whose lives are now impacted by climate change
- Give substantial aid to those most severely impacted, near and far
“Part of the [false] mythology that they’ve been teaching you is that you have no power. Power is not brute force and money; power is in your spirit. Power is in your soul. (…) Power is in the earth; it is in your relationship to the earth.” Winona LaDuke All presenters are from the Pittsburgh area, which is well-supplied with visionary leadership.
Presenters were selected, in part, because personal faith or spiritual tradition is motivational to their work. Every workshop will emphasize visioning and empowerment to promote change.
Speaking from the power of soul in the earth and people of Western Pennsylvania….
Facing the Climate Crisis: Called to Save Our Sacred Home:
(draft, as descriptions are expanded and finalized) Keynotes
Embracing a Blue-Green Religious Vision. Charles McCollester
The geographic and natural advantages or our region has informed the lives of Native Americans, immigrants, and workers. Dr. McCollester shows the problems that industrialization presented for environment and health as well as the improvements in people’s lives that faith and unionization created. How can we establish this vision of solidarity now and with generations yet to come.
About Charles McCollester
Growing up on the edge of suburban Rochester NY, he spent many days roaming the woods and forest glades hearing the birds sing sweetly in the trees. Inspired by student lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro NC and John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign, he participated in a “freedom ride” to Eastern Shore Maryland to desegregate restaurants and the 1963 March on Washington. In November 1962, a month after the Cuban missile crisis, he met Dr. Martin Luther King following a speech where King said: “The issue is not violence or nonviolence, the issue is nonviolence or non-existence.”
Studying philosophy at the Catholic University of Louvain (1963 to 1968), his doctoral thesis Emmanuel Levinas and Modern Jewish Thought was based on research in Paris and Jerusalem. Hitchhiking from Paris to Jerusalem across Eastern Europe and Turkey, he studied Orthodox religion, art and architecture. He picked lemons on a kibbutz and lived for two month in Jerusalem’s Old City. He returned to Paris hitching across North Africa visiting many Muslim mosques. After living and teaching in Gary Indiana, he returned to Africa, crossing the Sahara and traveling from Dakar, Senegal to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania overland without a vehicle, weapon or much money.
In 1973, he arrived in Pittsburgh with his wife Linda. They have five children and eight grandchildren. He worked in restaurants, construction and as a machinist was elected UE 610 chief steward at the Union Switch & Signal in Swissvale. In 1986, he became a professor of Industrial and Labor Relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania retiring in 2009. He wrote The Point of Pittsburgh: Production and Struggle at the Forks of the Ohio. At a demonstration in 2016 he stood between coal miners and environmentalists with a sign: “As long as BLUE Union Jobs is pitted against GREEN Health of the Earth, We are ALL doomed!”
Listening for the Voice of the Earth. Rev. David Carlisle
Rev. Carlisle advocates for the basic premises of Dr. Patricia DeMarco’s book, Pathways to our Sustainable Future: A Global Perspective from Pittsburgh. On the foundation of an environmental ethic, especially the leading principles of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. How can intergenerational ethics and the biblical mandate for environmental justice help frame our conversation? How can we hear more clearly the voice of the earth and our calling to be better stewards of creation? Rachel Carson’s voice continues to lead us to an environmental ethic of the interrelationships and interdependence of all of the earth.
About Rev. David Carlisle: A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister (PCUSA) and has served in three churches, recently retiring after twenty-one years as pastor in Springdale. Earth Day Sundays have been observed at the church each year, and Rachel Carson and her environmental ethic have often been presented
as an important part of what we believe. His relationship with Rachel Carson Homestead began after arriving in Springdale, and he delved into her writings and life story. Since then he has read Rachel’s books and her biography by Linda Lear. He is developing a power point about the religious influences in Rachel’s life, beginning with her baptism by a minister of the Springdale church.
Rev. Carlisle attended a number of the Rachel Carson Legacy Conferences and was one of the presenters at the “Spirit and Nature” Forum in April of 2008 at Chatham .
He has been a member of Presbyterians for Earth Care. An avid bird watcher since the age of fourteen, he is a member of Audubon Society of Western PA, National Audubon Society, and Three Rivers Bird Club. He is currently in his second term as president of the Rachel Carson Homestead Board. His wife Janet directs the Open Art Studio at the church and recently published a picture book which she wrote and illustrated. They live in Penn Hills.
Rev. John Creasy (Pastor, Open Door Church and Director, Garfield Community Farm) Rev. Creasy, joined by others, will lead a discussion on visions for faith-based engagements, including local faith communities and regional and national structures.
Sister Kari Pohl (SSJ of Baden) and Thaddeus Popovich: Petrochemicals, Pipelines, Pollutants, Plastics, and Pennsylvania
With at least 382,000 gas and/or oil wells and some 92,000 miles of pipeline in Pennsylvania, plus compression stations, processing facilities, storage wells, and other petrochemical infrastructure, what’s happening in Pennsylvania as the petrochemical industry seeks to increase its presence here? What’s the purpose of it all? How does it affect you? Most importantly, how do we protect God’s creation in the midst of it?
Dr. Paul Nelson Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at Pitt. Dr. Nelson will discuss international sustainability goals and ways in which climate change is already impacting many countries, including contributing to the refugee crisis.
Kirsi Jansa, Pittsburgh-based documentary filmmaker who has been exploring energy production, climate change and climate solutions will lead Finding Our Power Community Discussions. Participants will watch a Secret to Talking about Climate Change video (4 min) followed by small group discussion about our feelings about climate change. This will be followed by two short documentaries.
The first, Home Sweet Home, follows a couple building a “passive house” in the Pittsburgh area and a 100-percent electric straw bale house in Armstrong county, PA. The second, Finding Our Power, follows the re-building of one of the world’s most sustainable buildings, the Frick Environmental Center in Pittsburgh. Discussions will use Joanna Macy’s Active Hope process of facing reality and then moving to hope and positive action in confronting climate change.
Ellesa High (Cherokee) will lead a workshop that is experiential, contextual, and participatory….A sharing of rituals and practices that participants may repeat in their own homes or settings without being guilty of appropriation. We will be using water from the Ohio River
etc. The workshop will provide the opportunity for the experiences to be annotated for understanding spiritual context.
“Ujamaa Collective was founded with a social mission to create spaces, opportunities, networks, education and support for Africana women to grow as entrepreneurs, artisans, and servant-leaders so that we may “lift as we climb.” We are accomplishing this through our Hill District based artisan boutique, pop-up marketplace events, arts and entrepreneurship programming, and through our advocacy on health and wealth, including our passion of cooperatives and community wellness. Ujamaa’s vision is to create sustainable neighborhoods and communities that are healthy and economically vibrant for people of African descent.