How does the church care for the earth?
That's one of the questions that church-based environmental advocates will tackle during an ecumenical, interfaith gathering scheduled for late June in St. Paul, Minn.
The three-day event, "Bringing the Church Back Down to Earth: How Progressive Christians Embrace Ecology," will be held June 25-27 at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. It is being cosponsored by the North American Coalition for Christianity and Ecology and the Center for Progressive Christianity.
"The preservation of God's earth is an issue of faith," says the Rev. Tim Johnson, pastor of Cherokee Park UCC in St. Paul and one of the conference's co-chairs. "As stewards of the earth, we recognize the importance of acting thoughtfully, responsibly and justly as we wrestle with environmental issues and search for ways to cherish and protect our world."
Keynote speakers will include the Rev. Christine Smith, a UCC minister and a professor of preaching and worship at UCC-related United Theological Seminary in New Brighton, Minn.; the Rev. John B. Cobb, professor emeritus at the Claremont School of Theology in California; and Sallie McFague, distinguished theologian in residence at the Vancouver School of Theology in British Columbia and author of "Models of God: An Ecological Theology."
More than 20 workshops will focus on a wide-range of environmental topics, including practical ideas for congregational advocacy, eco-theology and earth-based spiritualities, sustainable agriculture, vegetarianism, energy efficiency and the impact of globalization on the environment.
The Rev. Carlos J. Correa, the UCC's minister for environmental justice, will lead a conversation about environmental racism, an issue that reached national prominence when the UCC's former Commission for Racial Justice released its landmark study, "Toxic Wastes and Race," in 1987.
"We believe that as faithful people, we must build faith communities that care for the earth," Johnson says. "Because we believe that the earth has finite resources, we must replace the current cultural myth of unlimited growth with a socially and ecologically sustainable system."
Information and registration materials are available online at tcpc.org or by calling the Rev. Tim Johnson at 651-227-4275.