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EMBRACING GOD'S CALL FOR CREATION CARE: THE ROLE OF THE RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY IN REVERSING THE EARTH’S ECOLOGICAL CRISIS. Presentation For Chesapeake Covenant.

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Presentation on theme: "EMBRACING GOD'S CALL FOR CREATION CARE: THE ROLE OF THE RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY IN REVERSING THE EARTH’S ECOLOGICAL CRISIS. Presentation For Chesapeake Covenant."— Presentation transcript:

1 EMBRACING GOD'S CALL FOR CREATION CARE: THE ROLE OF THE RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY IN REVERSING THE EARTH’S ECOLOGICAL CRISIS. Presentation For Chesapeake Covenant Congregations July 25, 2009 Presented by: Gerald W. Winegrad

2 “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). God entrusted the whole of creation to the man and woman, and only then could he rest "from all his work” (Gen 2:3).

3 Peace with God the Creator, Peace with All of Creation (1990) Pope John Paul II “I wish to repeat that the ecological crisis is a moral issue. In our day, there is a growing awareness that world peace is threatened not only by the arms race, regional conflicts and continued injustices among peoples and nations, but also by a lack of due respect for nature, by the plundering of natural resources and by a progressive decline in the quality of life….Faced with the widespread destruction of the environment, people everywhere are coming to understand that we cannot continue to use the goods of the earth as we have in the past. Today the ecological crisis has assumed such proportions as to be the responsibility of everyone. Modern society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at its life style AN EDUCATION IN ECOLOGICAL RESPONSIBILITY IS URGENT: responsibility for oneself, for others, and for the earth. Instead, a true education in responsibility entails a genuine conversion in ways of thought and behaviour. Churches and religious bodies, non-governmental and governmental organizations, indeed all members of society, have a precise role to play in such education. “

4 “The gradual depletion of the ozone layer and the related ‘greenhouse effect’ has now reached crisis proportions as a consequence of industrial growth, massive urban concentrations and vastly increased energy needs. Industrial waste, the burning of fossil fuels, unrestricted deforestation, the use of certain types of herbicides, coolants and propellants: all of these are known to harm the atmosphere and environment. The resulting meteorological and atmospheric changes range from damage to health to the possible future submersion of low-lying lands.” Pope John Paul II

5 POPE BENEDICT SPEAKS OUT ON POLLUTION “Before it's too late we need to make courageous choices that will re-create a strong alliance between man and Earth. We need a decisive 'yes' to care for creation and a strong commitment to reverse those trends that risk making the situation of decay irreversible." “The destruction of the environment is a stark example of how future survival requires that people obey the laws of nature, especially when everyone else is taking shortcuts that may increase their pleasure at the moment, but are obviously damaging in the long term. The first thing young people can learn is that ‘our earth speaks to us, and we must listen if we want to survive.’ ” Pope Benedict XVI

6 In March 2008, the Vatican declared pollution a sin that, like other sins, Catholics must confront and avoid. The Vatican stated that sin is not just an individual act but can also be a transgression against the larger community. An offense against God, said senior Vatican official Msgr. Gianfranco Girotti, "is not only stealing or coveting another man's wife, it is also destroying the environment."

7 Renewing the Earth: An Invitation to Reflection & Action on the Environment in Light of Catholic Social Teaching. U.S. Catholic Bishops Statement on the Environmental Crisis (1991) in Response to Papal Message “At its core the environmental crisis is a moral challenge. It calls us to examine how we use and share the goods of the earth and how we live in harmony with God’s creation….The whole human race suffers as a result of environmental blight, and generations unborn will bear the cost for our failure to act today….Safeguarding creation requires us to live responsibly within it rather than manage creation as though we are outside it.” The Catholic Bishops detailed a plan for pastors and laity to follow to address these ecological concerns. THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY

8 THE INTEGRITY OF CREATION The World Council of Churches, predominantly Protestant, issued the following when they called their member churches together in 1990 to consider the issues of justice, peace, and the integrity of creation: Affirmation VII * We affirm the creation as beloved of God. * We affirm that the world, as God’s handiwork, has its own inherent integrity; that land, waters, air, forests, mountains and all creatures, including humanity, are “good” in God’s sight. The integrity of creation has a social aspect which we recognize as peace with justice, and an ecological aspect which we recognize in the self-renewing, sustainable character of natural ecosystems. * We will resist the claim that anything in creation is merely a resource for human exploitation. We will resist species extinction for human benefit; consumerism and harmful mass production; pollution of land, air and waters; all human activities which are now leading to probable rapid climate change; and the policies and plans which contribute to the disintegration of creation. * Therefore we commit ourselves to be members of both the living community of creation in which we are but one species, and members of the covenant community of Christ; to be full co-workers with God, with moral responsibility to respect the rights of future generations; and to conserve and work for the integrity of creation both for its inherent value to God and in order that justice may be achieved and sustained.

9 CONSERVE ECOLOGY OR PERISH A life without contribution toward the preservation of ecology is a life of sin and a life without specific purpose or use. HINDU LIVING IN GOD’S WORLD The present paper is concerned with the vast and complex problem of protecting our natural environment from pollution and destruction, so that we can live in God’s world while enjoying its beauty and deriving from it the maximum physical and spiritual benefit. In Jewish sources, the rationale for man’s obligation to protect nature may be found in the biblical expression, “For the earth is Mine” (Lev. 25:23). The Bible informs us that the Earth is not subject to man’s absolute ownership, but is rather given to man “to use and protect” (Gen. 2:15). JEWISH

10 THE CHESAPEAKE BAY IS IN DISMAL SHAPE: BOLD ACTION IS NEEDED 60% OF BAY ROCKFISH WITH CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE ALL RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS AND THEIR CONGREGANTS HAVE A MAJOR ROLE TO PLAY IN REVERSING THE ECOLOGICAL CRISES

11 Despite Rescue Effort, Bay Crabs at an Ebb: Pollution, Warming and Overfishing Keep Population Numbers Down By David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post Staff Writer, Saturday, November 17, 2007; A01 HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF FISH KILLED IN POTOMAC Aug. 21, 2007 Virginia DEQ. Pollution Rising In Tributaries of Bay, Data Show By David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, December 5, 2007; B01 The massive government effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay is not just falling short of its goals. Now the bay's pollution might actually be taking a turn for the worse.Chesapeake Bay HEALTH OF MD. CHOPTANK RIVER IS DECLINING, RESEARCHERS SAYS. GREENWIRE (12/11/2007) The health of the Choptank River in Maryland is declining due to pollution from regional farms and new housing developments. Chesapeake's Rockfish Overrun by Disease; Epidemic Hits Species Hailed for Revival, Then Weakened by Polluted Waters By Elizabeth Williamson, Washington Post Staff Writer, Saturday, March 11, 2006; Page A01

12 SOUTH RIVER CATFISH HAVE CANCER THE CAPITAL January 26, 2006 Front Page, by Pamela Wood “Nearly two-thirds of catfish pulled from the South River last spring had cancerous tumors.” 21 areas of the Bay have fishing bans or fish consumption advisories because of contaminants. This brown bullhead catfish from the South River near Annapolis is one of 30 tested, 19 of which had cancerous growths.

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14 BROWN TIDE KILLS 7,000 INNER HARBOR FISH WBAL-TV June 5, 2007 BALTIMORE -- State environmental officials said a lack of oxygen killed thousands of fish in Baltimore's Inner Harbor last weekend. State program director Charles Poukish said the fish kill is the result of an algae bloom or brown tide. Poukish said the lack of dissolved oxygen is the result of a large bloom of microscopic algae. Recent warm water temperatures killed the algae and that depleted oxygen near the water‘ s surface, he said.

15 'Intersex' Fish Spark Pollution Debate (AP) WASHINGTON, SEPT. 6, U.S. scientists say abnormal "intersex" fish, with both male and female characteristics, have been discovered in the Potomac River and its tributaries across the U.S. capital region, raising questions about how contaminants are affecting millions of people who drink tap water there…. Last month's testing at three tributaries emptying into the Potomac revealed that more than 80 percent of all male smallmouth bass found were growing eggs, according to Vicki S. Blazer, a fish pathologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

16 “Therefore the land mourns, and all who live in it languish; together with the wild animals and the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are perishing". Hosea 4:2-3.

17 BERNIE VOITH AT HIS DOCK ON PLUM CREEK OFF THE SEVERN RIVER BERNIE HAS SWAM AND FISHED THE WATERS OF THE BAY FOR 50 YEARS HE WILL NEVER AGAIN DO SO

18 I.BERNIE VOITH’S RIGHT LEG FROM BACTERIAL INFECTION CONTRACTED IN JULY 2005 WHEN HE SCRATCHED HIS LEG IN PLUM CREEK OFF THE SEVERN RIVER IN HIS BACKYARD. THE ENTEROBACTER NEARLY COST BERNIE HIS LIFE. II.FORMER AA COUNCIL WOMAN BARBARA SAMORAJCZYK SCRAPPED HER LEG IN HER BACKYARD ON LAKE OGLETON AND HAD TWO ABCESSES IN HER LEG REQUIRING MONTHS OF MEDICAL TREATMENT. III. STAFF AT ARLINGTON ECHO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCTION CENTER ON THE SEVERN RIVER HAVE HAD SIMILAR LEG INFECTIONS AND SCHOOL CHILDREN AT THE COUNTY’S MAIN ENV. ED. FACILITY CAN NO LONGER GO IN THE WATER.

19 Why has the Bay declined so badly? Excess nutrients and sediment. They are the focus of Bay restoration. Toxic chemicals also present threats.

20 17 Million People Live in the Bay Watershed w/170,000 more per year In last Decade, 8% population growth = 41% impervious surface increase Lost 50% of wetlands and 40% of forests & forests are fragmented Bay watershed in 1607 was 95% forested, now at 58%, 41% in Maryland From , 750,000 acres of forest were converted to development Maryland lost 141,000 acres of forest, (6%)

21 I. Reduce our individual pollutant loads. II. Change development patterns through State and local land use legislation and establish no net loss of forest. III. Require stormwater retrofits and no net pollution in new development, fix septic, and require new septic to be state-of-the art.. IV. Require mandatory controls and BMPs for agricultural pollutants, including advanced nutrient management and better animal manure management. EMBRACING THE CALL FOR FAITH-BASED ECOLOGICAL ACTION IS NECESSARY FOR THESE CHANGES TO OCCUR FOUR KEYS TO RESTORE THE BAY

22 WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP RENEW THE EARTH AND ADDRESS THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS AS A MORAL ISSUE? To reverse the ecological crisis, religious leaders need to build the ecological ethic and to encourage laymen to act as individuals, as lay leaders on Church Councils, as teachers, as “The Church”, and as nations. A renewed hope for the "future of creation" necessarily relies on the involved response of our pastors, rabbis, ministers, Church leaders, AND ALL OF US to Renewing the Earth.

23 ST. MARY’S ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEE *MISSION: St. Mary’s Environmental Stewardship Committee works to preserve the fingerprint of God by developing and implementing a community-wide strategy for education, awareness, and action to fulfill Pope John Paul II’s challenge to “care for all creation.” *Formed: In 2007 with broad-based Parish representation. Respond to the church’s call for renewing the earth. *COMMITTEES: Education and Awareness, Facilities and Grounds, and Projects-many activities underway. CONTACT: or

24 HOW CAN FAITH-BASED GROUPS ANSWER THE CALLS TO ACTION ON THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS? 1. Form an Environmental Stewardship Committee as St. Mary’s did. 2. GREEN the grounds: Retrofit stormwater systems. Conserve energy w/shared savings contracts. Adjust thermostats to reduce a/c and heating use, compact fluorescent bulbs, turn lights, and computers off when not in use, plant trees & raingardens and use rainbarrels, Green the roofs. Recycle, use recycled materials e.g. recycled paper for bulletins. 3. Conserve water. Use flow restrictors on all faucets & shower heads repair leaks, don’t waste water. Avoid using chemicals (solvents, Freon, and pesticides) harmful to the environment. Do not place hazardous household substances in the trash or flush down the toilet. Test soil before applying fertilizer. Clean up after dogs and cats. Their waste pollutes our Bay. 4. Integrate environmental stewardship into all services, sermons, and special events. Print Creation Care messages in bulletins. Conduct seminars on environmental stewardship.

25 HOW CAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS ANSWER CALLS TO ACTION ON THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS? 5. Arrange for major Earth Day/week celebrations/awareness efforts. 6. Teach the need to GREEN one’s home. Conserve energy--control thermostats to reduce a/c and heating use, use compact fluorescent bulbs, turn lights, TVs, and computers off when not in use, properly insulate, buy only energy efficient appliances. 7. Teach the need to REDUCE, RE-USE, RECYCLE and purchase recycled products. You should be able to reduce trash discards by two-thirds. Bring your own bags to grocery stores and other shops. 8. Bring in environmental speakers from groups in the region. 9. Teach environmental courses and integrate environment into all courses, including Church’s teachings in religion.

26 10. Take students on outdoor environmental field trips; use CBF programs and Arlington Echo, and develop environmental class projects and community service. 11. Focus students on an environmental advocacy project—local, state or regional. 12. Conserve energy (car). Use a fuel efficient car, drive less--walk, bike, use public transit and car pool, keep tires inflated. 13. GREEN your own homes, schools, and work places, --plant forested buffers, retrofit stormwater systems, green roofs, rain gardens, limited use of nutrients and pesticides., use recycled paper, recycle and reduce waste. HOW CAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS ANSWER BIBLICAL CALLS FOR CRAETION CARE AND ACT ON THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS?

27 BERNIE’S INFECTED LEG ROCKFISH W/MYCOBATERIOSIS CATFISH FROM SOUTH RIVER WITH CANCEROUS LESION THESE ARE SOME OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT ADDRESSING THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS AS A MORAL ISSUE.

28 “IF CURRENT DEVELOPMENT TRENDS CONTINUE, AN ADDITIONAL 250,000 ACRES OF WATERSHED LAND WILL BECOME IMPERVIOUS BETWEEN 2000 AND 2010 AND 9.5 MILLION MORE ACRES OF FORESTS WILL BE THREATENED BY DEVELOPMENT BY 2030.” EPA CHESAPEAKE BAY PROGRAM, APRIL 3, 2008 The land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land. Levitcus, 25:23-24.

29 “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). OH LORD MY GOD! WHEN I IN AWESOME WONDER CONSIDER ALL THE WORKS THY HANDS HAVE MADE, I SEE THE STARS, I HEAR THE MIGHTY THUNDER, THY POWER THROUGHOUT THE UNIVERSE DISPLAYED; THEN SINGS MY SOUL, MY SAVIOR GOD TO THEE; HOW GREAT THOU ART, HOW GREAT THOU ART!


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