Triangle people of faith call for action to address climate emergency

Human “prayer chains for climate justice” set to take place this afternoon and next Sunday

By Lynn Lyle and Claire Korzen

The 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, begins on October 31. Without exaggeration, the fate of the world is at stake. We believe people of all faiths and all people of conscience have a moral duty to act now to care for creation.

In advance of COP26, faith leaders and their communities in the Triangle are coming together to demand bold action from the U.S. Congress and from world leaders. Our demands are inspired by a worldwide GreenFaith movement called Faiths4ClimateJustice. People of faith in dozens of countries are taking part in this multi-religious action.

Interfaith Creation Care of the Triangle has organized a Human Prayer Chain for Climate Justice stretching between the Community United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh (UUFR) down Wade Avenue. At 5:00 p.m., Monday, October 18, people will be holding signs and praying for a global change in how we care for creation. All are welcome. An outdoor prayer vigil led by nine leaders from different religions will follow at 6:00 p.m. at UUFR.

Orange-Chatham Interfaith Care for Creation is sponsoring a similar prayer chain in Chapel Hill on October 24 at 2:00 p.m. In Charlotte, there will be a Faiths4Climate Justice gathering on October 18 at 12:00 p.m. to pray for financial and government leaders to invest in our future.

Around the world, you’ll find people across religions and denominations are rising up to fulfill their sacred duty to protect creation. United Methodist Social Principles call on governments around the world to work toward zero emissions. Locally, United Methodists in the eastern half of the state from Burlington to the coast have pledged themselves to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Last month, retired Methodist Bishop Hope Ward took a leading role in a Clergy Dialogue on Climate Action with U.S. Representative Deborah Ross.

Muslim faith leaders adopted an Islamic Declaration on Climate at an International Climate Symposium in Istanbul in 2015 that called on all nations to phase out greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. Dr. Shereen Elgamal from the Zakat Foundation, a Muslim-led charitable organization serving the broader Triangle community, will participate in the Prayer Chain in Raleigh.

This year, Pope Francis followed up his Laudato si’ encyclical with a seven-year Action Platform, calling for “response to the cry of the earth, response to the cry of the poor, ecological economics, and adoption of simple lifestyles.”  In the Triangle, a number of Catholic churches, like St. Francis of Assisi in Raleigh and Immaculate Conception in Durham, are beginning to implement their own plans to fulfill these goals.

A trans-denominational group of Jewish organizations called Dayenu is confronting the climate crisis by calling on members of Congress to demand clean energy, good jobs, and justice through the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. In the Triangle, Rabbi Raachel Jurovics, Rabbi Emerita of Yavneh: A Jewish Renewal Community in Raleigh, will participate in the Prayer Chain on October 18.

Both the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina have called on Congress to ensure that the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill includes provisions to dramatically reduce emissions and invest in communities that are already most impacted by climate change. The Rt. Rev. Anne Elliott Hodges-Copple, VI Bishop Suffragan of North Carolina, will be in Charlotte on October 18 participating in the Faiths4ClimateJustice event there.

Whatever our particular religious beliefs may be, as people of faith and conscience, we are called to care for the gift of this marvelous planet. We are all part of the same world. We depend on each other and all creation, from the air we breathe to the water we drink to the food we eat. As we look to creating a world where all people can thrive, we are not alone. With our voices united, we demand global leaders act to save our future.

Lynn Lyle and Claire Korzen are members of Interfaith Creation Care of the Triangle.

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