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Pastoral Care for Climate Change Workshop June 13-15, 2022

I just returned from Beaufort, North Carolina where Creation Justice Ministries, the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions, and Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment facilitated a three day workshop for clergy on Pastoral Care for Climate Change. Campus cats greeted the 40 guests when we arrived at the Duke University Marine Biology Lab where we were welcomed to settle into dorms, classrooms, boat docks, and gorgeous views of the waterway and Rachel Carson Reserve.

A wide variety of denominations were represented by the clergy who gathered from North Carolina and Virginia: AME Zion, Disciples, Catholic, Presbyterian, Mennonite, Methodist, and others. Throughout the three days, we gathered for sessions on Pastoral Response to Social Psychological Barriers to Climate Engagement; Food Security and Climate Change; Climate Related Disasters in NC; Climate and Environmental Justice; Climate Response, Organizing, and Advocacy; and Preaching Hope in Climate Crisis.

The workshop facilitators took great care to provide the participants with opportunities to engage with local cultural practices, foods, and excursions. We enjoyed freshly harvested oysters, a guided walking tour of the Rachel Carson Reserve, and a boat trip to see the sunset. Worship gatherings were facilitated so that we could incorporate what we were learning into a spiritual and liturgical practice. We were also provided down time to reflect upon what we were learning and to be quiet in nature.

Some of my key takeaways from the workshop are:

  • I have a lot more to learn about Climate Change, Food Security, Environmental Racism and my role in addressing these issues.

  • Climate Change is an amplifier of a lot of societal issues, risks and inequities. Climate Change exacerbates historical inequity in 4 main areas:

    • Racial wealth divide

    • Racial housing segregation, lack of investment, racialized concentrated poverty

    • Racial health inequities

    • Lack of sovereignty

  • When oppressive forces oppress human bodies, they also oppress creation. When you oppress the earth, you oppress the people dependent on the earth.

  • We can engage in Intergenerational, long term, relational, culturally responsible processes that address Climate Change and build toward Climate Justice

  • We need to build spiritual muscle in order to cultivate hope, deal with hard things, and build resilience.

After spending time learning and talking about Climate Change and Climate Justice with other clergy, I am walking away with several new commitments. I have a new list of resources to study and incorporate into my work. I intend to spend more time with my notes and the resources that were provided and write up summaries of the workshops. Once I learn a bit more, I’d like to create a glossary of terms to use when speaking or writing on this issue. I want to continue weaving Climate Justice themes and practices into worship liturgy and gatherings with Beloved Community Charlotte. I am hoping to weave the learnings from the workshops into QC Family Tree’s programming as well. I am hoping to organize a similar workshop in Charlotte for clergy. organizations, and concerned congregants.

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