There are many lenses through which humans see the divine and interpret what is sacred. It is an act of courage to accept that all beings have their own unique connection to the sacred. It is a powerful way to expand ones own faith in the limitlessness of The Divine. Mutual respect, compassion, love, and peace are central themes in all religions, yet there is something even more basic and fundamental that we all share regardless of our faith… the Earth. On September 19-21, the weekend before the United Nations Climate Summit, more than 200 religious and spiritual leaders from across the world will gather at Union Theological Seminary in New York City for the Religions for the Earth Conference. Speakers include Former Vice President Al Gore, Rev. Jim Wallis, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Rabbi Ellen Bernstein and more.
What ethicists, religious leaders and traditional indigenous elders bring to this conversation is conviction about the deepest human values at stake. These values can reveal the connections between the exploitation of people and the exploitation of the earth and guide us to solutions that promote integrity and justice -Karenna Gore, director of Union Forum
Religions for the Earth will be hosted in conjunction with The Interfaith Center of New York, GreenFaith, and the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions. In conjunction with UN International Day of Peace, United Religions Initiative Representative, Monica Willard and Global Council Trustee Rebecca Tobias we be proudly participating as well. The conference is designed to spur a conversation about climate change as a social justice issue, to put forth the moral imperative to care for the natural world, and to help shape and accelerate actions in support of an effective international climate treaty.
The program includes workshops and commitments for specific and verifiable follow-up efforts, including the announcement of an international multifaith campaign for a strong and just climate treaty. By helping to catalyze action, religious and spiritual leaders can help effect a shift in values towards an ecologically and ethically conscious global community. Portions of the Religions for the Earth conference, as well as the Multifaith Service, will also be live streamed here.
A multi-faith celebration and commissioning ceremony will follow the conference at 6pm on Sunday, September 21, at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. This celebration will be a public event that includes government officials, activists, scientists and artists.
The 21st is also the International Day of Peace (this years theme: peace is a fundamental human right) with a globally synchronized meditation planned in conjunction with Geneva Peace Talks and The Peoples Climate March.
Climate justice, human rights, religion, and indigenous spirituality are all entwined and people are taking action in an unprecedented way this weekend. If you are near New York, you don’t want to miss this. If you are anywhere else in the world, visit the Peace Map to find an event in your area, or create your own. Everyone, everywhere, together making history!