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Activists, faith community join climate change march

Spokane Climate March2
Spokane marchers join global People's Climate March

While more than 400,000—according to the Sierra Club— marched in New York City and people marched by hundreds to 10s of thousands in 2,500 communities around the world, about 150 gathered at Cowley Park in Spokane and marched to Martin Luther King Way beside the railroad tracks where oil trains pass each day.

Signs expressed concerns about the future for children, the military’s contribution to pollution, the need for solar and wind energy, the challenge of coal export trains and more.

Participants included children to seniors.  They included people of faith, such as St. Aloysius Catholic Church’s Creation Care team.  They also included political candidates, such as Joe Pakootas, who is running for the Congress.

Spokane Climate March
Spokane marchers join global People's Climate March


By Connie Wardle
of the Presbyterian Record in Canada for the World Council of Churches

As hundreds of thousands of people flooded through the streets of New York City on Sept. 21 in a march for action on climate change, 30 faith leaders representing nine religions signed a statement calling for concrete actions to curb carbon emissions.

The document was the centerpiece of an interfaith conference jointly hosted by the World Council of Churches (WCC), a body with 345 churches representing about 560 million Christians worldwide, and Religions for Peace, an interfaith coalition with members in more than 70 countries. Signers are from 21 countries on six continents.

“When in January I listened to the general secretary of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, calling the world’s heads of state for a summit on climate change, I thought we also have to get together as leaders of faith communities to offer our contributions,” said Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, the WCC general secretary. Large changes require conviction, which, he said, can be found in the “beliefs, rituals, symbols, sacred texts and prayers of faith that give meaning and direction for a large portion of the world’s population.”

The statement, titled “Climate, Faith and Hope: Faith Traditions Together for a Common Future” was presented to the deputy-secretary general of the UN, Jan Eliasson, before the UN climate summit that began Sept. 23.

It calls on “all states to work constructively towards a far-reaching global climate agreement in Paris in 2015,” which will be “ambitious enough to keep temperature from rising well below 2° Celsius; fair enough to distribute the burden in an equitable way, and legally binding enough to guarantee that effective national climate policies to curb emissions are well funded and fully implemented.”

As faith leaders from many of the world’s religions, “if we change, everything changes. So we have to commit ourselves,” said Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, founder of the Jacob Soetendorp Institute for Human Values in The Hague, the Netherlands. “The march is visible. What we are doing here is visible. The march and documents together make an impression,”

For some signers in the Pacific and elsewhere, climate change is threatening to inundate the countries they call home as sea levels rise.

In face of the crisis affecting the world, people of faith must speak out in hope, becoming a moral voice that speaks “to our deepest convictions and commitments as human beings,” said the WCC general secretary. “I say it is immoral not to speak of hope in this time.”

Copyright © October 2014 - The Fig Tree