Friday, June 28, 2019

Why you should attend a PEC conference

Why I Attend PEC Conferences
by Jim Dunning

PEC member Jim Dunning has attended PEC conferences since 1996 and tells his story about why he goes and why you should too! The early bird registration discount ends on July 9 for this year's conference.

Jim Dunning (2nd from right) attending the 2013 PEC
conference at Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center.

I recently registered for the upcoming PEC Conference to be held at Stony Point, New York. This will be my 10thconference. I have found over the years that they are a great inspiration and a big help as I engage with the environmental issues of our time within my church and in my community.

I attended my first conference in 1996 at Ghost Ranch. My pastor and I were discussing my recent career switch. I was wondering if my new position as an environmental engineer for a Native American Tribe was doing something important and if so, to whom and for whom? Was this new career and new job a part of my faith walk?

The conference purpose was to study a position paper that was to be presented to the General Assembly being held in Albuquerque. I spent four days hearing and studying what the Eco-Justice Task Force had written for this presentation. To me, this was one of those mountain top experiences that had a significant effect on my thinking of my role as a Christian. This experience helped me understand my career change and was the impetus to my becoming involved with the Presbyterians for Earth Care program.
In the conferences that followed there was always a new topic, a fantastic speaker, a new way of relating the environment to my faith and to my church community. There were new friends and connections made. There were new trails to walk, off-site trips, and new songs to sing during devotions. There was also the after worship evening discussions. One in particular involved a group sitting on the front porch of the lodge at Silver Bay, NY and discussing the future of churches with Rick Ufford-Chase, then Moderator of the General Assembly.
 Each conference provided me with new energy and a new connection to our earth and to my faith.

 If you can't attend this year's conference for some reason, PEC will offer another conference in 2021. Conferences are held every other year in odd-numbered years.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

A Climate Chaos Manifesto for Educators

William P. Brown and colleagues, Mark Douglas and Stan Saunders, at Columbia Theological Seminary, wrote this one-page “manifesto.” It is meant to galvanize theological educators across denominations to explore, with the greatest of urgency, best pedagogical practices in the face of climate chaos. It is just a beginning. 

William Brown will be the Keynote Speaker at PEC's 2019 Conference, Aug 6-9, at Stony Point Center in New York. 
Climate Chaos: A Pedagogical Manifesto 

The two latest climate reports, “Fourth National Climate Assessment”[1]and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on “Global Warming of 1.5°C,”[2]are the most dire reports yet to be produced by expert scientists. Within the next ten to fifteen years, the human race will largely determine its own survival, and that of countless other species, in “our common home.”  We are at a crossroads, and radical changes in current energy policies, capitalist economies, and collective and individual lifestyles are required to prepare for and mitigate an ecological collapse never experienced in all of human (and hominid) history.

Given such urgency, theological education has no choice except to address the mounting crisis of climate chaos caused by global warming.  We acknowledge that none of us and none of our disciplines will go untouched by the physical and conceptual changes wrought by anthropogenic climate change. In such a time as this, ignoring climate change in our teaching, writing, and research is tantamount to theological and pedagogical malpractice.  As faculty colleagues joined together in the common causes of sustainability and the flourishing of life on a rapidly changing planet, we (re)commit ourselves to do the following both within and beyond our classrooms:
  1. To teach across our respective disciplines with an acute and abiding awareness of the mounting anthropogenic damage done to our common home;  
  1. To embrace the disciplines of grief, rather than despair, over the incalculable loss of life and livelihood among all species in the face of climate chaos and habitat destruction;
  1. To attend to the voices of those on the margins, including environmental refugees, who suffer disproportionately from drought, pollution, flooding, and rising sea waters caused by fossil-fuel based industries and exploitative land use; 
  1. To be conversant with the best of science on climate change and on other anthropogenic crises, from deforestation to ocean acidification;
  1. To embrace the disciplines of hope, rather than blithe optimism, as the odds against human survival continue to mount;
  1. To teach in ways that lead to action and activism, working to advocate for environmentally-focused policies, challenge exploitative ones, and reshape cultural norms and individual lifestyles. 

We renew our commitment to teach integratively in the face of impending ecological collapse and yet in hope for the ultimate renewal of creation (Revelation 21:5).