Written by Anthony Moujaes
United Church of Christ General Minister and President the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black and the Rev. Jim Antal, general minister and president of the Massachusetts Conference of the UCC, join other leading clergy for a gathering on "Climate Revival" in Boston to address the moral imperative to take action on climate change. The Saturday event occurs at the midway point of Mission 4/1 Earth, the UCC’s 50-day earth care campaign.
Climate Revival promises to be a day of contrasts — inspirational preaching, worship and music to celebrate the splendor of the earth, and somber, mournful reflection of the desecration of the environment while advocating for ecological renewal.
"This should be a very engaging day for earth care, and a very uplifting day for the area that is returning to life after the horrific bombing took place not far from where we will gather Saturday," Black said. "The Boston area, and the New England area, is resilient, active and strong in everything they do."
"We are going to speak a word of truth of the suffering of our planet," Antal said. "I don’t think this event has much precedent in this country."
The Climate Revival will take place Saturday, April 27 at Old South Church, starting with environmentally-focused workshops on the problems of climate change and how faith communities play an important role. Worship begins at 10 a.m. at Old South Church (645 Boylston Street), where Black will preach. A roundtable discussion on the role faith plays in environmentalism, with leading clergy from different denominations, takes place at 11:30 a.m. Worship will continue at 1:15 p.m. at Trinity Church on Clarendon Street.
"My sermon will be about Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus," Black said. "Jesus wept when he learned of Lazarus’ death because he loved him. That grief is something similar to what confronts us when we learn part of the earth, God’s earth, is destroyed. Just as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, we can revive and restore creation around us."
In addition to preaching, Black will be part of the roundtable discussion with the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Rev. Thomas G. Carr, minister of First Baptist Church in West Hartford, Conn., and the Rev. James E. Hazelwood, bishop of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and 350.org leader, author and environmental activist Bill McKibben will also address the gathering via recorded messages.
Antal said the idea for the event took root in June 2012, when the New England Regional Environmental Ministries (NEREM), an ecumenical group focused on environmental revitalization, proposed the large-scale gathering.
About two dozen other regional and national denominational leaders are slated to attend, and busses will bring visitors from Connecticut, Maine and all over the New England region. Climate Revival will highlight the "values and spiritual discipline to help people shift to material understanding of growth to spiritual understanding of growth," Antal said. "The organizers of this event, myself included, believe communities of faith are essential to making the transition from fossil fuels to sustainable energy."
Given the recent events in the area around Old South Church and Copley Square, which is near the finish line to the Boston Marathon, there was concern about where, or if, the event would take place when Old South was closed after the marathon bombings on April 15. It wasn’t until Wednesday that Old South and Trinity re-opened to the public.
"Boston has been engulfed for a little more than two weeks in relation to this bombing crisis," Antal said. "We feel this event is respectful of the people who have died, the (14) people who have lost limbs and the (280) people who have been injured."
The United Church of Christ has been working for environmental justice for almost 30 years, and recognizes the opportunity for a shared mission campaign to live out our faith — in unity, as one church — for the sake of our fragile planet Earth.
With the help of UCC congregations everywhere, Mission 4/1 Earth, which began Easter Monday 2013, hopes to accomplish more than 1 million hours of engaged earth care, 100,000 tree plantings across the globe, and 100,000 advocacy letters written and sent on environmental concerns.
To count your efforts on the Mission 4/1 Earth tally board, report your earth care hours, trees planting and letters written as often as you like here.
To learn more about how to count earth care hours, watch this video.
Share the goals of Mission 4/1 Earth with your family and friends and invite them to join the movement.