Click here to view this film to understand the urgency of action on climate change. Online and free.
On May 19, 2015, LSTC Professors Kadi Billman, Barbara Rossing, and Vítor Westhelle, reflected on A Bishops’ Letter about Climate Change published by the Church of Sweden in 2014. The Rev. Dr. Antje Jackelén, archbishop of the Church of Sweden, concluded the session presented for the LSTC Board of Directors and faculty. Click here to watch the four videos.
Click here to read “A Bishops’ Letter about the Climate” from the Church of Sweden.
Giving Voice to My Community and Bringing ELCA Advocacy Home
By: Fumi Liang, Huntington Beach, CA
I am Fumi Liang from Huntington Beach California and I want to tell you a story about a group of senior citizens who are trying to make a difference in caring for the environment.
My friend Dick started a program called “Paper Rollers” many years ago. About 20 seniors came to church every Thursday to make 20 lbs of newspaper rolls and sell them to a floral company. When Dick passed away, nobody wanted to take over his job to organize this program. As a leader of a senior ministry at my church, I could have moved away from this project, but I didn’t want Dick’s legacy to die. So I took over and I’m glad I did, because I found out how much these seniors care about the land our God created.
The seniors in my church worry about how we’re not taking care of the land we live. They want to continue to do as much as they can to keep our land healthy for their next generation. They taught me, through their action, to be deeply concerned about our environment and the effect climate change will have on my grandchildren’s lives. I sincerely hope that through the Green Climate Fund, government can help combat climate change so we can keep the earth green and clean.
This is the message I gave when I met with the offices of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Scott Peters on Capitol Hill as part of the ELCA’s Advocacy Convening in Washington, D.C. last year.
This convening occurred in the midst of Pope Francis’ visit to Washington. It was the time for the ELCA to get together with the Episcopal Church to share prayers, formation, and practice of our baptismal mandate to strive for justice and peace. This was the first time that ELCA Advocacy invited community leaders from across the United States to attend the event alongside ELCA bishops. I was one of 17 community leaders invited to attend and learn how to become an effective Advocate. Having said that, I was very nervous about participating because I didn’t have any idea about what I would be expected to do.
I knew nothing about ELCA Advocacy; who they are and what they do for what purpose. Everything was new to me. I just had to trust and asked God to give me His extra mercy to guide me through this new challenge.
I was impressed by one of the speakers who emphasized how important it is for us to be truthful when we talk about the issue that matters to us. I always thought that religion and politics should never mix together. However, I discovered during my time in Washington that it could work beautifully if the contact between religion and politics was not for the disputes of powers, money and fame but for the purpose of serving people. After all, people come to church for help and comfort. They want to find the answer of their needs and heal for their pains. If church cannot do that for them, who else can?
Through my participation in the 2015 Advocacy Convening, I realized that the ELCA’s Advocacy ministry can help provide opportunities to make a difference. While in Washington, we urged Congress to provide appropriate funding for global health and refugee services, emergency food assistance, and other development programs through the international Affairs Account; to promote robust structures that help developing countries adopt clean energy technologies and adapt to climate change impacts through the Green Climate Fund; and to protect children and families in Central America by investing in poverty reduction, human rights, and citizen security.
Prior to meeting with Congress, I received training on how to address your opinion effectively. I practiced and prepared my own story and its relation to climate change and environmental issues. It was a great challenge for me to deliver what I wanted to say within 2 to3 minutes. I was grateful that Bishop Finck, Bishop Erwin, Mark Carlson of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy California helped me shape my story and present it during our meetings. Not in my wildest dreams did I think that one day I would voice my concerns on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
After I returned from my trip, I shared my experience with my senior group on Thursday during their “Paper Rollers” time. They were so pleased to know that the ELCA is concerned about our environment and that I was able to give voice to my community’s experience. When I saw their delighted faces, I felt really blessed because I didn’t just attend a fun event in Washington, I was also able to bring ELCA Advocacy home to them by sharing my experience.
Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, a professor of Christian ethics, is the author of the 2013 book, Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation (Fortress Press). She gave a lecture at USU in the Tanner Talks series from the College of Humanites and Social Sciences. Dr. Moe-Lobeda joins us for Access Utah today, along with Rev. Scott Thalacker, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Logan.
by John Berge
Member of Mt. Pleasant Lutheran Church in Racine, WI.
“Tell the truth. Give no false hope
Tell it like it is.
Tell the truth about the ecological state of the world. How easily we can give false hope by our silence or by minimizing the threats to our environment.
If we do not see the size of the problem, we will not see the size of the response required.
Then speak the truth of the Gospel.
The Bishop says, ‘So discipline yourself in life and teaching that you preserve the truth, giving no occasion for false security or illusory hope.'”
—From the ELCA Ordination Service, Bishop’s address to the newly ordained.
Here are the reflections of an ELCA layperson who tells it like it is in an article for his congregational newsletter for January, 2014.
by John Berge
Member of Mt. Pleasant Lutheran Church in Racine, WI.
While Wisconsin and the upper midwest was cooler than normal in 2014, this was an anomaly and the rest of the world appears to be heading to a record high in global temperatures. Unless December is much cooler around the world, 2014 will be the warmest since records have been kept and probably the warmest since the start of the industrial revolution. And as you may have noticed in the news, as predicted in virtually every computer model, storms are getting more severe due to global warming or climate change, whichever term you prefer.
Climate scientists outside the fossil fuel industry are in general agreement that climate change is a direct result of increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the increase is caused by humans burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests. Reducing our use of fossil fuels such as coal, gasoline, natural gas has been much discussed both here and elsewhere. It is good environmental stewardship to reduce the miles we drive, drive vehicles with better gas mileage, turn down the thermostat, push for and install wind and solar power, etc. It is unfortunate that Wisconsin’s Transportation Department and Public Service Commission both are advocating penalties to those of us who try to be better stewards.
But CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas that is causing climate change; there are other “co-conspirators” in global warming which we as individuals may be able to help reduce. Many are short-lived in the atmosphere, and so will give a quick response.
Methane is 40 times as effective a greenhouse gas than CO2 and comes from a variety of human activity sources. Fracking which has greatly increased the drilling for both oil and natural gas releases (or spills) methane into the atmosphere. Reducing our thirst for fossil fuels will reduce the amount of fracing and the release of greenhouse gases in at least two ways. Other major sources include cows, truly great producers of methane from both ends. Our taste for beef drives this industry. Wastewater treatment plants produce a lot of methane and I have advocated with the Director to capture this byproduct for co-generation which could produce enough electricity and heat to run the plant without further fossil fuel use. Methane from landfills is being used to generate electricity and heat by the power company and local industry.
“Black carbon” is essentially soot from poorly tuned engines (mostly diesel trucks and buses but some cars, too) but also arises from wood burning stoves, bonfires, fireplaces and such. These amenities are things we can control and reduce. Unfortunately, the role of black carbon is not generally agreed upon and its reduction may in some cases hinder rather than help.
Hydrofluorocarbons, frequently and not always accurately referred to by the trademark Freon™, are capable of absorbing as much as 100 times the heat energy as carbon dioxide per molecule. Fortunately, so far there is not a large amount in the atmosphere. Since HFCs are used in a number of household appliances, we can be good stewards by making sure that we have no leaks in this equipment, having them fixed quickly by a competent professional, and disposing of old or defective equipment properly. HFCs are probably the coolant in your refrigerator, freezer, air conditioner and dehumidifier – some households have more than one of some of these. Do you have more than you need? Do you want to dispose of one or more? First of all, they DO NOT GO OUT IN THE TRASH. Anything containing HFCs should be properly drained by a professional who will collect and either reuse or properly dispose of the HFC. There are companies in the Racine area that will do this service, usually for a small fee, but postal regulations prevent me from including their names in this newsletter. If you are replacing a device which uses HFCs, the dealer will often take the old one off your hands and dispose of it properly. As in everything, look to the environmental consequence before you act. Everything we do can make a difference.
Reflections on Attending Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light Advocacy Training, August 26, 2015
by Pastor Inge Williams, Friedens Lutheran Church, Shartlesville, Pennsylvania
I recently heard a theologian say that the first reaction of people to an awareness of the environmental crisis tends to be despair. This was certainly the case for me. I vividly remember the moment when I read the IPCC’s press report in a college computer lab in 2007 and realized that humans were wreaking havoc on the climate. I fell into a spiritual crisis, paralyzed by a sudden understanding of the weight of our folly. (read more)