Inspired by their faith’s interpretation of the Creation story, a group of panelists representing Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism will share environmental lessons taken from humanity’s first story and how they bring them to action in IFLC’s program: “Creation Stories & Our Environment: Christian, Hindu, Jewish & Muslim Teachings On Environmentally-Conscious Living” 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Sunday, Nov 12th at Temple Beth-El; 7400 Telegraph Rd., Bloomfield Hills.
The panel includes:
- Juhi Parekh, a high school student who is president of her school’s environmental organization and a member of the Bharatiya Temple
- Imam Al-Masmari of the Muslim Unity Center
- Rabbi Ariana Silverman of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue
- Dr. Ventra Asana, Elder Clergy member of the 4th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
- John Schleicher, Lutheran Bishop from the Lansing area and member of the Michigan Interfaith Power and Light
Temple Kol Ami’s Rabbi Brent Gutmann, who was involved with ecological interfaith work when he was a rabbi in Auckland, New Zealand and continues his green quest here in Detroit inviting his congregation’s youngest members and their families to get out and explore Judaism through nature, will lead the panelist discussion.
Gutmann said there are deep connections between one’s spirituality and taking care of the Earth.
“Right from Chapter Two of Genesis, we learn the primary purpose of humanity is to be caretakers of the Earth,” said Gutmann. “In Jewish prayer and ritual, we come back to the story of Creation and learn that every day, God continually renews Creation and every moment humans have a new opportunity to fulfill our obligations of caring for the world.”
For 15 years, Dr. Asana has been fulfilling this obligation as an ecological minister. Though she is driven by her love of all cultures and ethnic groups, she is particularly concerned for the environmental state and degradation of the physical environs of her “beloved” African American community. The backbone of this community – churches and mosques – have recently been financially threatened with heavy fees that must be paid to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department for treating storm water runoff from their properties. Recently, Dr. Asana and other Detroit clergy have expressed opposition to increased water and drainage fees that they say are too costly for their congregations to pay and are at a risk of closing their doors.
Dr. Asana teaches congregants of various faiths how to install rain barrels and create gardens and other ecological methods that prevent excessive storm water from overburdening municipal sewer systems. Her work has also led her to be involved in showing off the city’s hundreds of urban farms and gardens to visitors from around the country who are looking to Detroit as an example of how to revitalize and beautify inner cities.
“Ecological ministry work is not just theoretical but one that is very practical.”
Rev. Schleicher said that caring for God’s creation should be a primary concern for the faithful, and taking actions such as installing LED lighting and practicing other methods of energy efficiency is a sign that humans are partners in taking care of God’s creation.
He also pointed to Pope Francis’s encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si, which says that climate change is real and mainly “a result of human activity.”
“Pope Francis doesn’t pull any punches when he expressed his concern for the dire situation of this planet” said Schleicher.
The second part in the series will take place 1:45 to 4 at the Detroit Institute of Arts where participants will be treated to a free docent led tour of the museum’s pieces that examine the natural world and the human place within the world from African, Islamic, European and American traditions. (Please gather at: Prentis Court)
It is not necessary to attend both programs, but advance registration is appreciated.
For the November 12 event, call 313.338.9777 X 0 or https://iflc.wufoo.com/forms/q1tp6lhj1ji9em4/
Cost: $10.00 per person – payable at the door
For the December 3 event, Register before November 30th by calling 313.338.9777 or go to https://iflc.wufoo.com/forms/q19glyg1eff13b/