I will be participating in the World Council of Church’s Interfaith Climate Summit as well as Union Theological Seminary’s “Religions for the Earth” conference in NYC. Here is my latest for the Huffington Post.
They pick up our garbage on Mondays.
I run for exercise, early in the morning, every day, through my neighborhood. On Mondays, I cringe as I run and pass by each house and see the amount of garbage. It is an enormous volume of waste. Not just refuse such as banana peels or pork chop bones, but good stuff. I see baby strollers, car seats, and playpens at the curb. I see tables, desks, couches and other items of furniture. I see electronics such as radios and speakers. One day I even saw a flat screen TV with a sign “I work” on it. So much is thrown out weekly just from my own neighborhood that I cannot imagine the total amount in my city, state and country.
Our disposable lifestyle is a wasteful life measured by the amount of foods and goods we throw away. The waste is enormous. This problematic issue has devastating effects. Some places are trying their best to reduce waste. Recently, California lawmakers passed statewide ban on “one-use”‘ plastic bags in an effort to reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our oceans and waterways and costs millions of dollars to clean up. They are moving towards using reusable plastic bags and are even distributing these in the lower income areas. Little efforts like this will go a long way.
If everyone does their part, we can move towards cleaning up the earth and living sustainably. Each person, community and religious organizations must work toward saving the earth.
The World Council of Churches started to speak about “sustainable communities” in the 1970s. Over the decades it became clear that climate change is a clear threat to sustainability and thus it has been taken as a serious priority. The WCC will have an Interfaith Summit on Climate Change September 21-22 in New York City. This summit will gather 30 religious leaders–Christians , Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Indigenous Peoples, and others — to stand together and encourage international political leaders to address concretely the causes and consequences of climate change. Dr Guillermo Kerber, coordinator of the WCC Programme on Care for Creation and Climate Justice shares:
“The summit will offer the opportunity, in various venues in NYC, to see how faith traditions are dealing with climate change from their respective traditions and spiritualities, how issues such as divestment and energy, indigenous peoples and climate change, relation with civil society have been addressed. People interested in the summit are invited to look at the interfaithclimate.org and to register to get the newsletter and other information.”
This summit is held in conjunction with Religions for the Earth that will gather more than 200 religious and spiritual leaders from across the world at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. This will be a place where these leaders can voice their appeal for action to work towards climate justice. They want to encourage dialogue on tackling climate change as a social justice issue.
“Religious leaders who feel called to protect Creation are feeling the urgency of this crisis and looking for ways to be effective,”
said Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary.
“Now is the time for us to come together across divisive issues and divergent traditions and use our reach and influence for the good of the earth we share.”
These important meetings are held just before the the United Nations Climate Summit which will try to mobilize climate action among world leaders. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, is calling for commitments to action from the private sector.
Ironically, these important events are occurring in the United States. We should not miss this opportunity to set aright what we have done through a lifestyle of waste disposal and overconsumption of natural resources. We need to place saving the earth and its diminishing resources as the most important issue of our time.
The Reverend Fletcher Harper, the Executive Director of GreenFaith, shares his own excitement surrounding these wonderful climate change events:
“In the midst of Climate Week this year, the collection of religious events taking place in New York City around the UN Climate Summit is astounding. From the launch of the international multi-faith Our Voices Campaign at the UN Church Center to the Religions for the Earth conference at Union Seminary to the People’s Climate March, where thousands of people of faith from over twenty different religious traditions will participate, to the multi-faith service at St. John the Divine to a number of other related faith events — there has never been such a large amount of religious-environmental activity in one location in the history of the world. This week will mark a watershed in the history of religion. It will be the time that people remember as the time when the world’s faiths declared themselves, irrevocably, as green faiths.”
All these events should be a “watershed” which will encourage other organizations, churches, families, and individuals to work towards sustainability and climate justice. Everyone can help by defining the part their own family, church or community can play to reach these goals. See this and other sites for ideas that are easy to do, so that we can each do our part to care for God’s creation.
[read also: Co-Writing]
Grace Ji-Sun Kim is Visiting Researcher at Georgetown University. She is the author of 6 books, Theological Reflections on “Gangnam Style” co-written with Joseph Cheah, Reimagining with Christian Doctrines co-edited with Jenny Daggers (Palgrave), Contemplations from the Heart (Wipf & Stock), Colonialism, Han and the Transformative Spirit (Palgrave Pivot), The Holy Spirit, Chi, and the Other: A Model of Global and Intercultural Pneumatology (Palgrave Macmillan) and The Grace of Sophia: A Korean North American Women’s Christology (Pilgrim Press). She is a co-editor with Dr. Joseph Cheah for the Palgrave Macmillan Book Series, “Asian Christianity in Diaspora”.