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Notes from the Quad

The multi-faith, interdisciplinary event drew theologians, filmmakers, academics and students to the Divinity School from across the country to discuss how religion informs environmentalism and vice versa. The first-of-its-kind conference, Renewing Hope: Pathways of Religious Environmentalism, featured some of the top names in the field, including Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies Dean Gus Speth and grassroots activist Father Charles Morris.

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Theologian Sallie McFague of the Vancouver School of Theology led off the Feb. 28-March 2 conference at the Divinity School by painting a disheartening picture of humankind's contemporary relationship to the Earth but arguing that religion can be a powerful force in efforts to save the planet. McFague, a YDS graduate and prolific author, likened humanity to a "rogue elephant, rampaging across our planet in reckless fashion."

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SpethDrawing parallels with religions' role in ending Jim Crow and apartheid, Gus Speth called on conference attendees to rescue the planet by launching a spiritual awakening and spawning a new consciousness. >Go to story


Attendees of different faiths, backgrounds and ages gave compelling reasons for coming to YDS to hear a message of hope and share empowering experiences of transformative inclusion.

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A significant part of the Renewing Hope conference was devoted to a Feb. 29 screening and March 1 discussion of the new film, Renewal: Inspiring Stories from America’s Religious Environmental Movement, a full-length documentary set for release on DVD in March.

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A green priest is leading his Roman Catholic parish in Michigan to serve as a role model  for other congregations seeking sustainability and sound environmental practices.

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Religious environmentalism did not arrive on the doorsteps of churches overnight as a neat package waiting to be unwrapped. One of the conference's panel discussions was devoted to the movement's history.

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The greening of the faith community also involves the greening of institutions, as conference participants learned. The Green Seminary Initiative is helping shape how the academy integrates religion and the environment.

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Conference panelists described how persistence and vision can lead to grassroots and parish-level programs that do everything from promoting sustainability to encouraging beekeeping and cooperative meat buying.

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