SILVER SPRING, Md. — St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring embraced the topic of global climate change, with a twist. After reviewing material on the spiritual and social dimensions of global warming, a team developed an eight-session program titled, “Global Climate Change: Impact and Faith Response,” based on the “Just Matters: God’s Creation Cries for Justice” course developed by JustFaith Ministries.
The church’s Oct. 6 to Nov. 24 program emphasized creation care, spirituality and energy policy concerns. It included sessions on:
- Why global climate change should matter to people of faith.
- An introduction to the science of climate change, including how our lifestyles and eating habits have an effect on global climate.
- Listening to the voices of the vulnerable on how global climate change disproportionately affects the poor and marginalized.
- Examining global climate change from a national and international security perspective, with an emphasis on understanding the motivations of different countries in international climate discussions.
- Deepening our faith perspectives on global climate change, and exploring relevant teachings in the Catholic tradition.
- Exploring sustainable alternatives to our current use of energy and our reliance on fossil fuels as a main source of energy.
- Understanding how U.S. policies on energy and climate change are developed, and how to advocate effectively for change.
- How the parish can respond to climate change though changed behaviors within the parish and effective action with other parishes.
When the program was first announced, it drew tremendous interest, with about twice as many people expressing interest as there were spaces in the program. This interest was across all the different groups in this multicultural parish. The group that assembled to undertake the course included participants ranging from teenagers to retirees, and from a variety of national backgrounds, including immigrants from Europe, Latin America, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Now that the seminar is completed, participants are getting involved in a larger strategy to “green the parish,” including following up on an energy audit of the church and school, incorporating the concepts of creation care into the existing religious education and school curricula, and participating in ecumenical advocacy activities in 2009 focused on the issue of global climate change.
— Bob Simon, a parishioner at St. Camillus, and Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, facilitated the program.