What various Arizona faith communities are doing to help combat climate change
By Patrick Grady
Living green, for those engaged in spiritual or religious faith journeys, often means living into your beliefs for the sanctity of creation or for the protection of nature
and sacred places. As we look across the globe, people of various faiths are raising their voices, calling for immediate action to care for the Earth, our common home.
Arizona Interfaith Power and Light
Here in Arizona, the Arizona Interfaith Power and Light (www.azipl.org) has been a leading faith-based advocate for mobilizing a statewide religious response to global warming. Deepening the connection between faith and ecology prompts an activism of the heart to reduce the devastating effects of global warming. With faith communities in Tucson, the Phoenix area, Flagstaff and Prescott, AZIPL, on its own
and in collaboration with others, offers workshops, films, speakers, and events to educate others on how to help build a clean energy future in our state. It also rallies individuals and congregations to advocate on behalf of particular local and statewide solutions in the areas of renewable energy, environmental justice, and food justice.
The faith community needs to be a prophetic voice in the face of this planetary climate crisis.
The faith community in Prescott is following this AZIPL model. So much has happened in the past few months. Sacred Heart Catholic Church, building on its major investments in solar and energy efficiency, has moved forward this past fall
with the creation of an Earth Care Ministry, building on the prophetic voice of Pope Francis and his encyclical, “Laudato Si”. In late December 2019, Granite Peak Unitarian Universalist (GPUU) Congregation passed a resolution, a Climate Change
Declaration of Emergency, perhaps the first congregation to do so in Arizona.
The Declaration “requires our congregation and congregants to take accountable, faith-based, climate mitigating action in order to protect our congregants, community, country, and our Earth. It is critical that we all do whatever we possibly can to bring the interdependent web of life back into balance so that we can have the hope and possibility of a livable future.”
Unity Green Team
To that end, the GPUU Board of Trustees is directing all of its committees and teams, minister and staff, to “prioritize and ground our ministry in reverence
for this Earth” by looking at all plans, policies, activities, and spending to reflect the
“critical nature of Climate Change.” Bold and prophetic with an actionable plan.
Unity Church in Prescott has had The Unity Green Team for a number of years and is committed to “stewardship for a sustainable balance of nature and the sanctity of all creation.”
Prescott United Methodist Church (PUMC) is the first local church to engage with AZIPL-sponsored community-wide events around food and climate change,
perspectives of other faith traditions, as well as hosting climate marches from its church to downtown Prescott’s Courthouse Plaza.
This Earth Week, PUMC will host the film, From Paris to Pittsburgh.
Collaboration on climate change
With this nucleus and a palpable interest in increasing activism around sustainability and climate change, representatives of these four congregations, as well as the Yavapai Climate Change Coalition and the Northern Arizona Climate Change Alliance, came together in February to form the Prescott Faith Network for Earth Care. No, not just another meeting for already busy volunteer leaders. This Faith Network will provide an opportunity for sharing in order to learn from one another. It offers hope for developing a collaborative agenda and to scale up the
faith voice in the broader community.
From that first meeting, the Faith Network initiated a campaign to encourage
other churches/synagogues/ congregations/fellowships to observe Earth Care Sunday, April 19, as part of the larger Earth Week celebration. It commemorates the
50th Anniversary of Earth Day.
That’s a start. We have heard the cries of the Earth and we are responding in faith. We hope that our expressions of love for this Earth and all of humanity will be heard. And that our advocacy builds bridges to a more just and sustainable environment in our region, country and the planet. Stay tuned!
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Patrick Grady is the Chair of the Yavapai Climate Change Coalition and recently elected to the Northern Arizona Climate Change Alliance Board of Directors. In addition, he is active on the Green Sanctuary Team at Granite Peak UU as well as with other local faith communities concerned with care of the Earth. He and his wife, Leslie, live in the beautiful mountain community of Prescott.