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Renewing Hope:  Pathways of Religious Environmentalism

Yale Divinity School, February 28-March 2, 2008


Some of those who came, and what they had to say

 “I am here for the learning experience and networking.  The Divinity School at Duke has some classes on biblical ecology but there is only one class on spirituality and ecology at the environmental school.  Yale has connections in these two areas already.  I found it encouraging.”

Anabelle Ng, student at the Nicolas School of the Environment and Earth Studies at Duke University

“When I’m acting as a farmer, looking at corn grow, it is a spiritual process to me.  And when I’m at chapel singing to God, it’s really about my relationship to the environment.  When I tell people I’m interested in both theology and ecology, I’m shocked that they are shocked.  I don’t see any disconnect.”

Chris Freimuth, farmer from Poughkeepsie, NY

Registration “People look at the environment as other than themselves, and we need to see it as part of our struggle for justice.  Motivating congregations that are already interested in a large number of social projects, to include environmental justice in these projects is important.  How do we get people to see environmental justice as part of their religious experience?”

Robin Schafer, member of the New Haven Environmental Justice Network

 “My faith on a personal level has been connected to creation but not always in a deep theological way.  Being around so many thinkers, scholars and activists who live and breathe eco-justice has been an opportunity to find articulation for existing beliefs, and their push and pull, not just an affirmation.”

John Helmstadter,  M.Div. candidate at Yale Divinity School

 “I wanted to see how religious organizations and environmentalists have been connecting to help my students better understand the history of religious environmentalism so they can see all the things they are leaning in that broader context.”

Karen Johnston, 11th and 12th grade environmental science teacher, Christopher Dock Mennonite High School, Lansdale, PA

 “At REI our goal is to inspire, educate and outfit people for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship, engaging this generation and the next with the idea that it’s fun to play outside and that we need to take care of those places.  Environmental stewardship is critical.  Doing environmental education and organizing stewardship projects enables us to engage a diverse array of community members in stewarding our local green spaces.”

Charles Kline, graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania and an outreach coordinator for Recreational Equipment, Inc., a national outdoor gear and clothing retail cooperative

“I realized there was something missing in my education, something from my spiritual life.  Where will my love of nature intersect with my spiritual life?”

Brad Martell, Ph.D. student, Antioch University New England, Keene, NH

 “Coming back to creation in a theological way is an important goal.”

Sean Lanigan, M.Div. candidate at Yale Divinity School

“It’s interesting to see the potential of religion to create transformations in the way people think about environmental issues.”

John Dixon, New Haven Environmental Justice Network

“I want to take the conversation beyond policy into a well-rounded and diverse conversation grounded in spirituality as much as science and law. I am here to discover new writers and new ideas.”

Chip Blake, Editor, Orion magazine

“It is inspiring to see how other faiths approach the question of environmental degradation.  I came to the conference as I am interested in using ecology as part of the path to the divine and respective reverence.”

Nili Simhai, director, Teva Learning Center (a Jewish environmental education institute)

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