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Hope for Creation prepares for Expo '74's 50th

John Wallingford organizes creation care event.

For Earth Day 2022, The Hope for Creation Conference will kick off a celebration to commemorate the approach of the 50th anniversary of Expo '74, the first World's Fair dedicated to the environment.

The Hope for Creation event will include experts in care of the land, discussion groups on the intersection of faith and secular actions, a street fair, music, art, exhibits and food trucks. It will be held on Friday and Saturday, April 22 and 23, at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 127 E. 112th Ave.

With Expo '74, Spokane instantly became a global leader on the environment, said John Wallingford, coordinator of the event.

"People have loved living here because we had clean water and clean air, and the land was unspoiled," he said.

"We knew then that the burgeoning global population would stress the environment, and it has," he continued. "Not a day goes by that we are not bombarded with reports of the effects of climate change." 

John sees that Spokane is still responding.

• Last fall, the city adopted a Sustainability Action Plan.

• Gonzaga became the first U.S. university to join the Laudato Si Action plan.

• Area wheat farmers are adapting agricultural practices to changing precipitation.

• Avista is modifying retention and release of runoff.

• Area foresters are adapting forest management to address increased wildfire risk.

• Spokane's motto is "Near nature, near perfect."

John realizes that people feel stressed about the environment. Some are emotionally overwhelmed. Some suffer physically.  Some are in denial.

Despite that, he said that faith teachings provide guidance and give reason to Hope for Creation.

He cited Gen. 2:15 in the King James version that God put man "into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

Other translations use the words "work it and take care of it" (NIV) or "cultivate it and guard it" (Good News), or "to tend and care for it" (Living Bible).

"The need to care for the land became a central theme in the Promised Land, which was hilly and dry, not the rich vegetable garden of the Nile Delta in Egypt," he said. "The need to care for the land reflected the need to depend on God to provide, because of assurance in Deut. 11:12, that God cares for that land."  

John also cited Chief Sealth: "Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls earth befalls the sons of the earth. This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the earth, he does to himself."

This year, John said, is a shmita year in the Jewish calendar, the seventh year when the land is to lie fallow and rest. 

The 50 years since Expo, are a biblical jubilee, when the land debts are to be forgiven.

"Humanity's debt to the land during the last 50 years is immense," he said. "We need a new course, a fresh start."

The Episcopal Church—which is the Anglican Church in England—sits between Roman Catholics and Protestants, sharing beliefs with each and finding each holding beliefs the other does not accept, but still are part of the same family, he explained.

"We know some folks believe care for the environment is only a human responsibility, and some believe the wellbeing of the Earth is only in God's hands," John said. "There is truth in both of these views, and that each has value for the other. 

"The Episcopal baptismal covenant asks seven questions. The answer to each is 'I will, with God's help.'  That position of human responsibility, in proper relation to God, is our Hope for Creation," John said.

"We had Expo, we have the Sustainability Action Plan, and we need to imagine together how to care for the land in the future," he said.

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Copyright@ The Fig Tree, March, 2022