What Does Your Pilgrimage Towards Climate Justice Look Like?

by Susan Smith, First Congregational UCC, Salem, Oregon
pilgrimage WCCThe World Council of Churches has called upon Christians around the world to begin a pilgrimage towards climate justice. So what does that look like?

Christians from many countries have started their pilgrimage towards climate justice by heading to Paris, on foot and by bicycle, seeking to reach there by the end of November. Once in Paris, they will attend interfaith side events aimed at influencing the international climate change negotiations. The hope is that the Paris conference, the 21st annual meeting of nations that ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, will result in a treaty consisting of binding and enforceable national commitments to reduce net carbon emissions by every nation – as well as national funding commitments for a Green Energy Fund to fund renewable energy efforts in the poorest developing countries. For more information, visit:  World Council of Churches. 
Other Christians are staying closer to home: thinking globally, but acting locally and individually.  Some at Salem First Congregational, my home church, will be starting a carbon fast for Lent, trying to change their personal habits to reduce electricity, gasoline and other energy-intensive goods they consume.  And our congregation has been talking about ways that we can become carbon neutral, as a congregation and as individuals. By the end of the year, we may well have a plan to become carbon neutral. How? By reducing our carbon footprint and then investing enough in tropical reforestation to be carbon neutral or even carbon negative!  There are lots of options for becoming carbon neutral, but my personal favorite is investing in trees to reforest Haiti, to restore the most deforested landscape in the world and the watersheds and water that intact forests provide. For more information, contact Susan Smith at 503-586-8619 or susanlsmithor@gmail.com.

But perhaps the most important part of the climate justice pilgrimage for many will be the journey to Salem to talk with our state legislators about climate issues. We will gather in Salem for Interfaith Climate Advocacy Day, to get educated about how to be an effective legislative advocate on climate issues. Our day onTuesday, March 3, 2018:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. will include an advocacy training session and policy briefings on pending legislation, followed by legislative visits, sponsored by Oregon Interfaith Power and Light and the CPC Justice and Witness Team. The briefing will take place at Salem First United Methodist Church, 600 State Street, Salem and then then we will walk a block down to the State Capitol.  Afterward, the CPC Climate Action Network will gather from 4:30 – 8 pm at Salem First Congregational UCC, 700 Marion Street NE, Salem for conversations, a divestment discussion, music and inspiration.  Registration for the day’s events can be found on the emoregon.org website and the brochure can be found at http://www.emoregon.org/pdfs/Events/2015_ICAD_registration_brochure.pdf.

The cost is $20 ($10 for students) including lunch. Registration must be received byFebruary 27. Space is limited. Registration for the evening CPC Climate Action Network Gathering, email Rev. Caren Caldwell at caren@medforducc.org or call 541-621-0663.  Cost is $10 ($5 for students) including dinner.

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