Faith Matters: Uniting to protect our sacred earth: An invitation to an autumn open house, hosted by the Interfaith Council of Franklin County

  • Hetty Startup, a member of the leadership team of the Interfaith Council of Franklin County, in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Leadership team, Interfaith Council of Franklin County
Published: 9/22/2023 11:07:41 AM
Modified: 9/22/2023 11:07:02 AM

A New York Times lead story for June 24, 1988, began, “The earth has been warmer … this year than in any comparable period since measurements began 130 years ago.”

Climate change, first used as a phrase in 1975, was ramping up exponentially. In the intervening decades, I am sure many of us can point to markers of personal ‘no return’ when both action and hope became a kind of moral imperative to save our sacred earth.

I remember reading of the slaughtering of elephants for their ivory or the plundering of other species for human uses, such as tortoiseshell. When these materials became scarce, we then turned to plastic as an alternative. And plastic and pollution in turn is ruining our coral reefs and our oceans (among other things). The seas are literally warming. This year, wildfire season in Canada has seen 5% of the country’s forested areas burn. An unintended consequence was seeing people putting their COVID masks back on as the heavy smoke from the fires spread our way.

This summer’s thunderstorms and persistent, heavy rainfall has done extensive damage to Franklin County farms. Then, just this past week, thousands died and more than 10,000 are still missing in massive floods in Libya. As if all this is not heartbreaking enough, it was revealed that about 3,000 people died or are still missing in a recent earthquake in Morocco. Things are out-of-sync including the seasons themselves and cycles of nature around the world.

If we are readers of the Kabbalah, we would cleave to the pronouncements of Rabbi Mosheh (Moses) Cordovero (1522-1570), a 16th century mystic and sage who said, “Don’t say this is a stone and not G-d, heaven forbid! For all of existence is G-d and the stone is a thing pervaded by divinity.”

As our climate emergency deepens, members of The Interfaith Council of Franklin County (ICFC) have decided to set Our Sacred Earth as an overarching theme to organize our monthly meetings for 2023-2024. There is much to give us hope and increase our determination in the deepening of our senses about the sacred in our lives.

Over the summer, while other ICFC programs were going on, we set up a steering group to manage an autumn open house where we hope to meet, greet, and share inspiration about our climate emergency.

This will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Saints James and Andrew Episcopal Church in Greenfield. All are welcome.

We will explore visions for connecting our faiths to protecting and caring for the earth. West county singer/songwriter Lui Collins will share a set of related songs with us, which will be a special treat.

Some of the leadership’s steering group is assisting specifically with outreach as we hope to attract new members and participants this year. We want to hear from spiritual organizations, faith groups and congregations around the county about this urgent topic. We are also aware there are various organizations that have sustainability coordinators or sustainability managers.

Additionally, there are active CSAs in our area with deep rooted missions around permaculture and/or food justice like Just Roots or Greenfield Compost Collective. Two area churches, the UCC and Episcopal churches, share a missioner for climate justice, Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, with her One Home, One Future program, which is part of a national effort.

So join us. We will also break bread together, sharing a simple supper of soup and bread. Let us serve all of life’s sacred gifts by making peace with the earth and protecting her waters.

Hetty Startup is on the leadership team of the Interfaith Council of Franklin County and a deacon at First Congregational Church of Ashfield/UCC.


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