Friday, July 15, 2016

Eco-Stewards meet in Seattle in June

The tide is rising and so are we…

by Vickie Machado

Last month participants from around the country gathered in Seattle to reflect on how to navigate the environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest with regards to climate change and within the context of Christian faith. Collectively our group of seven EcoStewards and four leaders examined Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home. We reflected upon these words on the shores of Lake Washington and Bellingham Bay, while connecting them to the actions of many of the people and organizations we visited.

Folks at the Sightline Institute introduced us to the danger coal trains posed to many small towns as cargo loads brought the possibility of explosions, coal dust, and traffic issues rather than the promise of local jobs. EarthMinistry discussed their push to engage churches in these issues primarily teaching churches to act as allies to local Native American tribes. In the middle of the week, we met with the BackboneCampaign as they offered insight into the mass organization of kayak-ivists that worked to block oil ships from leaving port. And finally, the Lummi Nation graced us with their stories and wisdom as they shared the generations’ long fight for equality and their more recent move to prevent export facilities at Cherry Point.

In all of these instances, words from the encyclical and deeper understandings from our faith tradition appeared as we navigated how to serve God while caring for creation and our fellow brothers and sisters. We contemplated this call while meeting with others, communally preparing and sharing meals, singing songs, worshiping together, exploring the city by public transit, and kayaking Puget Sound. Within this week we learned and grew from those around us, recognizing the impact we all have in our world and that it takes every bit of effort to make a difference. Based on Rabbi Shochana Meira Friedman’s song, which we collectively sang the last night in Seattle, “the world is ready and so are we.”

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