By Magdalena Wenger
There is a connection between humans and the natural world; faith can help us to see this connection in new and deeper ways. Many religions and spiritualities share a common sense that our relationship to nature is connected to our spirituality and that our spiritual understandings should affect how we relate to the natural world, even as they have different understandings of nature and of the Divine.
The spiritual perspective is often missing from public discourse on climate change, but this does not mean it is not important.
Faith communities have wisdom and knowledge that can help to guide the rest of society into a new relationship with the natural world and to help society transition to a future increasingly shaped by climate change. They have resources, spiritual and organizing power, and unique understandings and perspectives that can change the world, especially when organizing together.
Faith communities and people of faith are uniquely positioned to both act and encourage action on climate change.
This is why some faith communities have organized the one-day Fresno Interfaith Climate Summit on April 15, hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno. Numerous workshops led by advocates, faith communities and organizations from around Fresno and the state are in the works with opportunities to discover common values, inspire hope, build community and make space to learn from each other.
You might ask, why do we need an interfaith climate summit? For many of those involved with this summit, their climate advocacy and/or relationship to the Earth is part of their faith. Their motivation to care for the Earth does not come from logic or ethics, but from their spirituality.
The summit provides an opportunity to reflect on how our faith contributes to our actions to help the Earth, to connect with neighbors from across the city and find ways to organize together and advocate for our own, local communities and to learn about the abundance of ways the Divine is working in our lives and communities to encourage people to care for the Earth.
We can only take actions to improve our environment and address the current climate crisis when we do it together: across all barriers, with respect, and centering our best wisdoms.
The keynote speaker will be Ron Goode, an Indigenous elder and the tribal chair of the North Fork Mono tribe.
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Magdalena Wenger is a college student who has been interning with the Fresno Interfaith Climate Alliance.