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April 14 2020

People of Faith Activate for Earth Day's 50th Anniversary

By Patrick Costanzo
[caption id="attachment_3809" align="alignnone" width="1377"] Earth Day Network's logo for Earth Day's 50th anniversary[/caption]

For many of us, Earth Day is a pleasant memory from elementary school where our class went to pick up garbage from a park or plant trees near the playground. But beginning in 1970, in response to significant environmental challenges of smog, automobile emissions and significant oil spills, a bi-partisan effort began to educate Americans about the need for environmental protections and best practices for sustainability. The seeds for the existential crisis we are facing in 2020 had already been planted 50 years ago. Earth Day also has a long and proud history of working closely with faith partners. You can learn more about how your community of worship can get involved here: https://www.earthday.org/campaign/faith-outreach/.

As we prepare for the upcoming 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we grapple with conflicting ideas that sometimes contradict each other. On one hand, we rejoice that there has been a concerted effort over the past 50 years to protect the only home gifted to us by God. But also, we must find time to ask God’s forgiveness for our treatment of the Earth and those most vulnerable to the impact of environmental injustice. We cannot simply acknowledge the sins of the past without taking concrete steps to repair that which we have damaged. To take action in this way, I encourage you to explore many of the projects and initiatives of the Earth Day 50 programming and incorporate them into your own lives, and the communal life of your faith community.

  • EARTHRISE, an intergenerational global movement for climate action that will mobilize millions around the world on April 22, 2020
  • The Great Global Cleanup, a worldwide campaign to remove billions of pieces of trash from neighborhoods, beaches, rivers, lakes, trails, and parks — reducing waste and plastic pollution, improving habitats, and preventing harm to wildlife and humans.
  • Earth Challenge 2020, the largest-ever global citizen science initiative, which will arm everyday individuals with the tools they need to report on the health and wellbeing of the environment, from water quality, to air quality, to the species around them.
  • Foodprints for the Future, a collaboration with individuals, communities, and partners across all sectors to address one of the largest contributors to climate change facing us today: our food system
  • Artists for the Earth, a global campaign bringing artists from around the world in every discipline, using the power of their art to express our common humanity.

This is a time for “raised ambition,” and what better time to begin than the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day? We have the solutions available at our fingertips, and a broad coalition of believers and non-believers alike who are invested in saving the only home we know. This sacred gift from our Creator is in peril, but we trust that God gives us the strength needed to meet the moment and proceed with renewed spirit, focus and love for neighbor and Creation.

Blessed Tomorrow partners are activating this Earth Day too. See examples below:

  • United Church of Christ (UCC): 5 ways to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA): #NoPlasticsforLent
    • Young adults in the ELCA led an effort to promote #NoPlasticsforLent by encouraging members and congregations in the church to give up plastics for lent as an Earth Day project. You can read more about these efforts on the Young Adults blog here.
  • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): Creation, Church, and Community: An Earth Day Webinar on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, from 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM ET
    • In commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, Lexington Theological Seminary presents an Earth Day webinar moderated by Rev. Carol Devine, Minister of Green Chalice, and featuring LTS faculty members. Dr. Emily Askew, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, will offer a theological response to climate-despair. Dr. Wilson Dickinson, Director of the D.Min. Program and Continuing Education and Lay School of Theology Programs, will share his insights on finding our place in social change. And Dr. Leah Schade, Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship, will lead us through the lectionary texts in the season of Easter with ideas for using a "green lens" for preaching. The webinar is free of charge, and all clergy, laity, and those seeking to connect their faith with caring for God's Creation are invited. Register here.

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