Pasadena churches form new coalition to collaborate on environmental issues

Representatives from congregations in the Pasadena area are forming a new council, the Arroyo Interfaith Environmental Coalition, to support each other in their work for a more sustainable environment. The coalition will focus on making church practices, campuses or legislation more earth-friendly, on advocating for climate, energy and water issues, and on strengthening relationships between the faiths.

So far, representatives from about a dozen faiths are involved. The new council will kick off on Sunday afternoon at the Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church on Orange Grove with an event titled Interfaith Earth Stewardship Summit.

The idea for the coalition originated in late 2013, when Susette Horspool, the chair of the Green Council at the Neighborhood UU Church, reacted to public media articles "about conservative religions deciding to promote good earth stewardship, while simultaneously claiming they weren't 'environmentalists.'

"I decided to set up a summit to help bond faiths of all kinds who wanted to support a healthy environment," Horspool said in an email on Friday. "Didn't matter if they called their work 'climate change activism' or 'stewards of God's creation.'" The coalition took off when Tom Brady from the environmental committee at All Saints Church joined the effort. He is now its interim president.

Brady's outlook goes even further than the collaboration of faith groups. In an email on Saturday he said: "It is essential that the environmental community work with the faith community to respond to the unprecedented challenge of the climate crisis.  For too long, these groups have worked on separate tracks, despite a shared interest in preserving the natural world/Creation."

Brady added that both groups would benefit from collaborating and increasing communication. Noting that the coalition's tentative mission statement is "to promote 'cultivating compassion and thankfulness for all life in a community of friends,'" he said: "I cannot imagine any secular person denying the need for more compassion and community in our too-insulated and fragmented world."

At this point, about a dozen faiths and churches are part of the coalition. They include Unitarian Universalist, Episcopalian, Mennonite, Methodist, Quaker, Jewish, Pagan, Presbyterian, Baha'i, United Church of Christ, and three interfaith groups. Representatives from other faiths have announced that they will, as a minimum, attend the summit on Sunday.

The program for the event includes a presentation on The Role of the Faith Community in Addressing the Environmental Crisis by keynote speaker John B. Cobb, Jr. (Emeritus Professor, Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate School.)  There will also be three panels, one on Communication/ Outreach/ Worship, one on Greening Congregational Operations, and one on Addressing the Climate Crisis. The driving forces behind the summit were Horspool, Brady and Allis Druffel, who is the Southern California Outreach Director at California Interfaith Power & Light.

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What: Interfaith Earth Stewardship Summit
When: Sunday, March 15, 1:30-5:30 p.m.
Where: Neighborhood Church, 301 N Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena
RSVP here

This post was last updated on March 14, at 1 p.m.