Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Anglican Bishop of Liverpool Speaks to DC Area Faith Leaders

Forty-five Muslim, Jewish and Christian clergy and community leaders gathered October 24 for a breakfast on the role of faith communities in caring for creation. The Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool (Church of England), Imam Yahya Hendi, Secretary General and Founder of Imams for Human Rights and Dialogue, and Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, President of the Washington Board of Rabbis, spoke about faith foundations for active engagement in care of creation care and environmental justice.
“We are pleased to work with faith communities in the DC region to build a sustainable future,” said Allison Fisher , program director for Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light (GWIPL). “From our three speakers, we heard strong calls to reach across religious differences to work together to provide leadership to the growing response to global warming.” At the end of the morning, 22 of the local faith leaders pledged to incorporate creation care into sermons or support a lay-lead creation care effort in their community.

Bishop Jones shared how his own focus on the environment developed through a series of discussions he had with British school children during the millennium year. Challenging religious communities to put their faith into action, Jones said, “We are caught up in a disease of consumption and that is what is afflicting the earth. So last year for Lent in the Diocese of Liverpool I called a carbon fast.” A carbon fast would have more value than giving up chocolate or candy that some choose. He reported that by the end of the carbon fast “people weren’t ready to resume their previous consumption levels; it made them think about their life.”

Imam Hendi shared the unique response he gives to the question, “Where are you from?” Hendi explained that he says, “I am from dust. I am a Dustian. ... I try to remember that I come from dust, and therefore I am someone who tries to find that harmonious relationship with the dust from which one comes.” Hendi went on to encourage humanity to come together as Dustians, to move together to protect our mother earth.
Religious communities contribute multi-generational thinking to the broader society, added Rabbi Dobb. Multi-generational thinking will “lead to some very different outcomes than when we are focused on quarterly profit earnings reports and other much shorter cycles of time that the dominant society would have us focus on. As people of faith, we can take the long view. When we take the long view, what’s two cents per KWH more to make sure the electricity that lights our sanctuaries and fellowship halls could come from wind or biomass instead of from coal? Intergenerational thinking will begin to change our action.”
The breakfast workshop, ‘Caring for Creation: How to Build a Sustainable Future,’ was co-sponsored by the British Embassy and Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.htm

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