Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light Annual Conference stressed the need for environmentalists and those working for social justice to work together. This year’s theme was “Hope in the Age of the Climate Crisis: Finding Our Moral Compass.” The group met at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, 7301 Germantown Ave. on Sunday, Oct. 25 from 1 to 5 p.m.
The session drew those from chapters across the commonwealth. The panelists and workshop leaders included Keya Chatterjee, executive director of U.S.0 Climate Action Network, and Bishop Dwayne D. Royster, executive director of Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild (POWER).
Additionally, Rabbi Arthur Green, the Rev. Dr. Karyn Wiseman, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Quaker educator Paula Kline and Rabbi Mordechai Liebling led workshops. The day’s event was sponsored by the Lutheran Seminary along with the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
“This was a true interfaith gathering,” said Chatterjee, the author of “The Zero Footprint Baby: How to Save the Planet While Raising a Healthy Baby.” “We talked about broadening the climate movement. We have to rally all communities of faith to come together to remedy this. It’s our moral obligation to work together for future generations.”
Green said that he used to live in Mount Airy for 20 years and moved out of Philadelphia 20 years ago. So being at the Lutheran Seminary was a homecoming for him. He is the current rector of the Rabbinical School and a professor at Hebrew College. He has written more than a dozen books.
He spoke of merging Darwinism, evolution and sacred texts on the journey toward caring for the earth. “We have to find a way to inspire us to preserve what we have. This planet is our home and we have to preserve the vital resources for our grandchildren. I have two grandchildren and I want us and them to be invested in preserving this,” Green said.
Royster said that local communities must find a way to merge the racial justice and environmental justice movements. He pointed out that really both agendas “share a common enemy” and should be more cohesive. He said that the members of the citywide interfaith POWER are aware of this.
“It’s time to pool our resources together because it is all interconnected,” Royster said. “We should be working together on the living wage as we are fighting for climate justice. We should be traveling together to Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., because we need to speak to the same [lawmakers] about justice.
“We have to talk about the world we want to leave. In that way POWER and PAIPL should be able to work together,” Royster said.
Tobie Hoffman of Mount Airy said she preferred to take it one step at a time. She readily admitted she is just learning about sustainability and climate change. She came to the session to learn more. “I realize that I can start by making small changes in how I eat and noticing how food is packaged. So, I will try to eat better and try some of the good ideas I’ve heard here.”
Other supporters included the Sisters of Mercy, the Church of St. Martin in the Field in Chestnut Hill, Sunvestment and the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of Pennsylvania. Furthermore. the Evolve Foundation, Stand UP PSU, the Sisters of St. Joseph, Weavers Way, P’nai Or, Earth Bread & Brewery in Mount Airy, author Eileen Flanagan, Alma Mater Restaurant, Tabernacle Untied Church, Penn Future and Summit Presbyterian Church supported the event.