More Photos: Celebration on the Quads

After the service, those attending the Day of Prayer event at the UofC joined together in a procession lead by the Chicago Didjeridu Chorus out to the quads for a kosher, vegan picnic. As we walked, we handed out info on global warming to those already enjoying the warm day on the quads and asked them to join us. Then we sat and enjoyed not only our picnic but the food prepared by the UofC Green Campus Initiative’s solar BBQ going on right next to us.

We arrive with our banner at the solar BBQ and gather around GCI’s solar cooker:

celebration and picnic - the solar cooker

Members of the Chicago Didjeridu Chorus, who led our parade:

chicago didjeridu chorus members

Dave, Laura, and Sallie set up the food on the picnic ‘table’:

celebration - our picnic food


Report from the University of Chicago Day of Prayer Service

It’s been a few weeks now since the Day of Prayer happened. Those of us at the University of Chicago would like to share the photos and text from our event for several reasons: 1. to provide ideas for those holding similar services next year

2. to share with all those who wanted to attend but couldn’t make it what happened and

3. we chose to not print paper bulletins with the readings inside, and instead to post them here for all who wanted to look back and reflect on them again later.

So to start, here is the text for our service, for those who wish to reflect back on it or for those wondering what an interfaith environmental service might look like:

UofC Interfaith Service of Prayer and Reflection Readings

And here’s some photos from our event:

We set up a table near the front, with different objects from our faith traditions:

Table with prayer beads

Subir Trivedi, reading from the Bhagavada Gita:

 Subir Trivedi, Hindu Reading

Saffia Hossainzadeh, reading from Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr:

Saffia Hossainzadeh, Muslim Reading

Sallie King, reading from the IPCC 2007 report:

Sallie King, Science Reading

Our singing group, the Meadville Lombards, from Meadville Lombard Theological School:

Meadville Lombards 2

Until next year…

global-warming-prayer-chicago.gifglobal-warming-prayer-chicago.gifAnd so the first National Day of Prayer and Reflection on Global Warming has come to a close.  We haven’t heard from every participating school, but those we have heard from suggest that the campus community of conscience is, more and more, grappling with the challenge before us.  At the University of Chicago, they met with dance and drumming and meditation (and made it into the paper–see the story below!).  At Stanford, students, community members, and clergy gathered outdoors in a redwood grove on a day of sun and clouds to contemplate what is being lost and how much we can still save.  And at Eckerd–well, let’s let them tell it, in the email from the wonderful Patrick Schwing, posted below.  To our knowledge, they are the first school to combine prayer with mud wrestling.

There is so much more to do.  We have ten years, at the most, to begin to reverse our carbon trajectory.  Instead, despite the change in the conversation, our emissions continue to increase.  We have not yet, as a society, taken up the burden before us.  We have not yet choosen to save ourselves and our children.  But we can.  Global warming is a terrible threat, but it is also a door for us to pass through, together.  The way is still open.  We have been thrilled by the dedication of the clergy, the passion that students are devoting to the world that we can build, and the possibilities before us.  This day has been a window into a better path; we hope that future days of prayer continue to drive us all to pray with our feet, moving forward into a better future and actively calling for change.

And now, the news:

Down here at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida Campus
ministries and the Center for Spiritual Life were a huge presence at
two events this Earth Day week.  We promoted the Global Warming Prayer
first at our annual on-campus EARTHFEST, which we sponsored a place
for prayer all day long.  We had anywhere from 50-100 participants
just for the prayer space.  We also had many more participate in our
mudwrestling event and take information on The Young Adult Ecumenical
Forum on Environmental Justice in Boston in July, and Sowing Seeds in
Washington, D.C. in June.

   We were also a presence at Speak St. Pete, Earth Day Celebration
at the Mahaffey Theater (Progress Energy Center).  This evenbt is
sponsored by the U.N. Environmental Programme and had 1400
participants from 75 countries registered for online participation on
top of those at the theater.  Global Warming Prayer materials were
made available to all of those that attended along with Earth Flags,
organic cotton T-shirts and a chance to see Lori Michaels and Stephen
Longfellow-Fiske perform.  The highlight of the night was the proposal
from Sam Keen ( to create a GLOBAL JUSTICE INDEX.
Eckerd College has accepted this challenge and plans to implement the
index as soon as possible.  You will be hearing more about this in the
near future.  We look forward to next year!

 And here’s coverage of the Chicago event from the Medill Reports…

Faithful bring moral perspective to global warming

by Celeste Kennel-Shank
Apr 19, 2007


Environmentalists aren’t just eating organics and hugging trees during Earth Day weekend — some also believe in the power of prayer.

Two Chicago organizations are among the main sponsors of the National Campus Day of Prayer and Reflection on Global Warming with dozens of events being held Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

People of faith have key perspectives in stopping global warming, and are often more environmentally friendly than secular activists realize, said David Aftandilian of the University of Chicago Religion and Environment Initiative, one of the event’s organizers.

“There has been a lot said about climate change on the science and policy fronts,” he said. “But global warming is not often enough talked about as an ethical and personal issue of responsibility for all of us.”
The Rockefeller Memorial Chapel in Hyde Park is also one of the national sponsors.

Global Warming in the Pulpit Pledge

Fighting global warming is not something we can do alone.  While we can take actions as individuals, only if we all begin to act together and to work for structural changes in addition to changes in our personal habits, can we truly lessen the climate change now occurring.  We must hence act not merely as individuals but as communities.  As participants in different religions, we need to educate and mobilize our religious communities on global warming.

You can take a step towards this by encouraging the leader or speaker in your religious congregation to sign the “Global Warming in the Pulpit Pledge.” The pledge states, “I pledge to preach on global climate change at least once in 2007, recognizing that Earth Day is Every Day and for Everyone.”  Many religious leaders will be fulfilling that pledge this Sunday, on Earth Day; others are choosing to wait until later in the year, to help keep climate change on our minds after the hype of Earth Day fades away.  Either way, you can take the time now to encourage your leader to recognize global warming as a moral and religious issue, and to preach on climate change this year.

And while you’re at it, why not invite them to lead a time of prayer this weekend, as part of the Day of Prayer and Reflection on Global Warming?  It may be planned last minute, but surely better than not planned at all!

Step It Up Follow Up

You can check out the news to hear about some of the creative actions folks engaged in across the country yesterday as part of Step It Up; here are links to stories at CNN and the NYTimes. (Apologies for the large bias towards The New York Times here on the blog; it just happens to be the paper we read most frequently.)

In addition, a report coming out this week from national security advisers tags global warming as a major security threat to the U.S.  Now, I’m not a fan of the overdone language about needing more security in our country, but I’ll say one thing: it seems to have weight with politicians.  So now’s the time, following on these actions all around our country, to contact your representatives.  And if you know your representative is already prepared to back legislation fighting global warming, use the time to write someone who seems like maybe they’re on the fence, whether or not they’re your specific rep, so they get the picture that people do care.

Once again, see the Write Your Representative page for members of the House and the Senate website’s contact info for members of the Senate.

Step It Up Next Weekend

One week from today, on April 14, citizens around the country will gather together to call for action: “Step it up Congress! Cut carbon 80% by 2050!”  There are over 1300 actions planned thus far, with at least one in every state.  To participate, you can go to Step It Up 2007 and either find an action happening near your or plan one of your own.  It could be as simple as gathering a few people together to quietly hold signs at a busy place in your community, or it could be as big as the rally that will take place here in Chicago, downtown at Daley Plaza, where the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Environment (and others) will be speaking and the band Das Kapital will be playing, among other activities.

Consider: the Supreme Court recently ruled that the EPA must regulate greenhouse gases as part of the Clean Air Act, and that they cannot fail to enforce them just because of political disagreement in Washington.  Now is the time to step up and tell our legislators just how much tougher these regulations need to be, now that there’s some commitment to enforce them.  So if you can’t make it out to an event next weekend, at least contact your representatives.  See the Write Your Representative page for members of the House and the Senate website’s contact info for members of the Senate.

Educating Youth About Global Warming

Many of us, even if our campus religious fellowships don’t involve high school students or younger children, come into contact regularly with them at our congregations, or through activities like tutoring, or caring for younger siblings; perhaps some of us even have children of our own.  As we think about engaging our campuses, our neighborhoods, and our religious communities to take action against global warming, then, we might want to keep in mind that we not only need to educate and change the habits of ourselves and those older than us, but we also need to help teach the next generation to do so as well.  Unfortunate as it may be, today’s youth are the ones who will be dealing with global warming in very tangible ways as soon as they are adults; hence teaching them about the situation sooner rather than later may not be a bad idea.

So for those of you involved in youth education, or interested in teaching youth in your congregation about global warming and possibly involving them in the Day of Prayer, you might want to check out the new youth edition of the companion guide to An Inconvenient Truth coming out April 10th.  Designed for youth in grades 5-8, it’s quite a bit slimmer than the original volume but still contains many of the striking images and the key information about global warming.  My guess is getting a 6th-grader to check out some of these photos may be a much easier task than getting them to sit and watch Al Gore for a couple hours.  For other educational materials, you can also check out StopGlobalWarming’s classroom resources, which features a “Take Action” sheet with ideas for changes that students can encourage their families to make at home.

The poor suffer first.

The deep injustice of global warming grows clearer every day.  Today, the New York Times reports that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will next Friday confirm what many of us have long suspected: the poor and the voiceless will suffer first, most, and longest from global warming.  In “Poor Nations to Bear the Brunt of Global Warming”, Andrew Revkin reports that while the “[t]he world’s richest countries, which have contributed by far the most” to global warming, and are spending billions to adapt to its threats, they are spending “just tens of millions” to help the developing world adapt.  Of course, it is the poor nations of the tropics that will also suffer most: it is the equatorial regions that will lose so much of their water and are most greatly threatened by drought.  The report highlights a grim truth: the SUV-driving, power-consuming citizens of the north will visit the bulk of the harm they have caused upon the south–and have not yet even bothered to begin to help their fellow citizens of the world adapt to the harm that they have caused. 

Religion and climate change in the news

That people from many different religious traditions are interested in addressing the problem of global warming is a fact finally being picked up, though perhaps slowly, by the media.  We linked earlier to the online discussion at a Washington Post blog about religious perspectives on caring for the environment.  Though a week or two old now, we thought it might be worth pointing out this story at the New York Times about Jim Ball, the executive director of the nonprofit Evangelical Environmental Network.   (Note: the article is available through Times Select, which you can now register to use for free if you have a university-provided email address.)

If you see an interesting story on religion and climate change in the news, feel free to link to it in the comments below!

Global Warming Sermons

We have started a collection of sermons related to global warming, available under the “Sermons” tab in the links at the top of the page.  We hope this will prove useful to those of you who are planning religious services as part of your Day of Prayer and Reflection event.  If you have copies of sermons you or others in your community have given related to global warming, and you would be willing to share them with others, we would love to be able to post them here.  You can send them to