Friday, October 21, 2011

Green Pilgrimage

Alliance of Religions and Conservation announces a global network Green Pilgrimage:
The first global network aimed at greening pilgrimage – the largest movement of people worldwide – will be launched in the presence of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh KG, KT, at the Sacred Land celebration in Assisi, Italy, from October 31 to November 2, 2011. The event is organised by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) in association with WWF.

The Green Pilgrimage Network will help the faiths make their holy cities and sacred sites as environmentally sustainable as possible according to their own theologies and understanding. Pilgrimage is the world’s biggest travel event, with millions of people becoming pilgrims every year, whether for a few hours, days or even weeks. The largest human gathering in recorded history was the Maha Kumbh Mela, a festival held every 144 years in Prayag, Allahabad, India, which in 2001 attracted more than 60 million Hindus.

Ten faith traditions have nominated pilgrim cities or sacred sites to become founding members of the Green Pilgrimage Network, ranging as far afield as Louguan in the People's Republic of China for Daoists to St Albans in the UK for Anglicans and Amritsar for the Sikhs (1). The city authorities of Jerusalem, a major pilgrimage destination for three faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – will join the network to green the city for all pilgrims.

Also launched at Sacred Land will be the first Green Hajj Guide aimed at the two million Muslim pilgrims who visit Mecca (Makkah) in Saudi Arabia each year for the Hajj, the biggest annual pilgrimage in the world. Sacred Land will also celebrate 25 years of faith action on the environment since the first Assisi gathering in 1986 when, as International President of WWF, Prince Philip invited faith leaders to consider how their beliefs, practices and teachings could help protect the environment.

Read more here

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Year of the Forests

Interfaith Power and Light is asking everyone to support the Year of the Forests.
Today, I want to share an update about our project with the Presbyterian Chuch in Ghana. The project team planted 2540 seedlings this year, establishing a brand new three-acre community forest. Now, funding is needed before the end of the year to maintain the farm and protect the land from fires. Also, the project teaches alternative livelihoods to locals — from bee keeping to snail farming — that prevent further land degradation. The project presents an opportunity to rebuild our relationship with both the natural world and communities on the front lines of climate change, honoring our sacred call of stewardship as well as loving our neighbors.

Protecting the climate will require international as well as interfaith cooperation and solidarity. One country, or one religion, can't do it alone. We in the U.S. must reduce our own oversized carbon footprint, as I know so many of our congregations have done, and we must also find ways to help vulnerable people around the world be part of the solution. That's why we call this project Carbon Covenant.

Forests are the lungs of the world, and play a crucial role in the climate by absorbing CO2 emissions. We all depend on the forests for survival. As people around the world focus on forests this year, it is fitting that the faith community is poised to play a leading role. I hope you will get your congregation, diocese, judicatory, province, or community involved, and sponsor a project. We also welcome your support as an individual.

On a personal note, I can't finish this letter about forests without saying how saddened I was by the passing last week of my friend and colleague Wangari Matthai, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for her extraordinary tree planting and women's empowerment efforts in Africa. But I take heart in knowing that her legacy lives on with her Greenbelt Movement, and with the enormous hope and inspiration she gave to people in Africa and all over the world.

Join the Carbon Covenant