by The Rev. Cheryl Pyrch
Did you watch the hundreds of thousands of people marching in the People’s Climate March in New York City recently and wonder why they were so passionate? Were you were one of the hundreds of people who got on buses from northwest Philadelphia and are now wondering how you can be more involved?
Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light invites you to their Annual Conference, Climate Justice: Faith in Action on Sunday, Oct. 26, from 2-6 p.m., at Summit Presbyterian Church, 6757 Greene St., at the corner of Westview. Among other issues that will be addressed are: Why is climate change a justice issue? And what does faith have to do with it?
PAIPL is part of a national organization of thousands of individuals and organizations responding to climate change as a moral issue, with an active chapter in Philadelphia. You are invited to an afternoon of learning, inspiration and connection with people of many faiths and beliefs. The keynote panel will share personal reflections on justice and faith and lead workshops. The speakers are:
• Jacqueline Patterson, Director of the Environment and Climate Justice Project, NAACP. According to Patterson, in her workshop, “Building the Communities in Which We Want to Live – Advancing Systems Change from the Ground Up,” participants “will talk about the circumstances we are facing, the resources that exist to aid us in advancing reform and the models of communities that have taken progressive action that have resulted in thriving neighborhoods with good health and economic prosperity.”
• Joelle Novey, Executive Director of Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light, will be leading a workshop on “Talking about Climate Change as if Feelings Mattered.” After speaking with groups in congregations about climate change for five years, Joelle Novey has learned that people have feelings when they are asked to think or talk about what’s happening to our climate. She said, “We’ll talk about some of the emotional obstacles to folks being open to climate science and discuss some ways to help groups find hope and form community that emboldens them to take action.”
• Victoria Furio, Convener, Climate Justice Initiative, Union Theological Seminary, New York City, will be talking on “Increasing the Fold.” How can you get the conversation started in your congregation? Resources for discussion leaders and a study guide will be provided to help people answer the question, “What Can We Do?”
• Samantha Shain, Foods Operations Fellow with Common Market, will speak on “Speaking Our Minds for the Earth.” According to Samantha, “Building on the Quaker concept of ‘speaking truth to power,’ this workshop will equip leaders to speak faithfully, honestly and powerfully in public spaces … While this workshop is designed for youth and teens, it will be friendly for folks of all ages!”
• Dr. Karyn Wiseman, Professor of Homiletics at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia (Mt. Airy), will lead a workshop: “Preaching and Speaking on Climate Change.” She will explore texts from different traditions and address constructive and faithful ways to deal with resistance and controversy in the congregation. Interactive! “Connect with colleagues of different faiths,” she said.
The Conference will also feature a teen leadership training. There is no charge for teens; however, teens do need to pre-register online at www.paipl.org. Contact Rabbi Melissa Klein for more information on the teen leadership training at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The conference will conclude with the Annual Meeting of PAIPL. Andrew Rudin, coordinator of the Interfaith Coalition on Energy, will be honored for his work in helping congregations save money and protect the environment by greening their buildings. We will also hear from Bill McKibben in a video made especially for this occasion!
The Rev. Cheryl Pyrch is pastor of Summit Presbyterian Church in Mt. Airy. Summit Church is a diverse and progressive community that was at the forefront of the racial integration movement in Mt. Airy 50 years ago. Many of those passions are still alive in the congregation today as members work toward peace, justice, environmental concerns and advocacy for children.