Muslims, and Catholics and Unitarians, Oh, my. Those faiths, and United Methodists, UCCs, Buddhists, Lutherans, Jewish, some with no faith tradition, and more came together on a beautiful fall Saturday morning to “Pray for the Planet,” an interfaith service.
Clergy, women religious and lay people read prayers and positions that their denominations and religions have taken to express the need for action to care for the world’s environment. Many leaders mentioned Pope Francis’ recent encyclical on climate change and poverty, Laudato Si’.
The front lawn of First United Methodist Church served as a grounding place for people of all faith traditions, to gather, connect, and pray for the upcoming Conference on Climate Change in Paris in December. (COP21/CMP11). You can read more at http://www.cop21.gouv.fr/en
Participants were encouraged to sign a petition of care and concern about the environment which ask the U.S. representative going to the Conference to take a leading role in setting aggressive standards for reducing emissions. Over 500 people have already signed the petition from the Omaha Metro area. OTOC has copies of the petition if you would like to circulate one to your friends and family and you can sign electronically on the home page of OTOC. The 150 plus attendees received specific suggestions on what they could do right now.
A coalition of groups helped plan and facilitate this event. The OTOC Environmental Action Team and the Eco Team from First United Methodist were key leaders in putting this worship service together. Music was provided by McArthur Trenching with songs about the local environment, including “Headwaters” and “Ogallala Aquifer.”
Educational tables were available to inform people about The Big Garden, OTOC, First United Methodist’s Eco Team, and more. OPPD had a table to encourage people to save energy with Cool Smart, a way to save energy, city wide, during high air conditioning use. Read about this program on the OPPD website under Environment, then Environmental Programs, then Cool Smart.
This was a great multi-faith event that inspired and informed. All were blessed with a beautiful day, great prayers from many faith traditions, children playing in the background, and a community of people who want the world to be a much better place for everyone.
By Tim Fickenscher, First United Methodist Church