Planning for a half-day program focused on Pope Francis’ 2015 environmental concerns Encyclical will be spearheaded by a local working group which looks at these issues through the lens of religious faith and spirituality.
A tentative date of Jan. 28, 2017, emerged from the group’s meeting on Thursday at Grace Lutheran Church. Rev. Dean Simpson, the church’s pastor, heads the working group.
The half-day program will be aimed at the community at large. It most likely will include a series of discussions of the Encyclical’s content concerning environmental degradation and climate change.
Several members of the working group noted that efforts to safeguard the environment will require interfaith cooperation as well as support from secular groups and people with no religious ties. To that end, contacts will be made with local faith communities as well as with non-religious organizations concerned with various aspects of the environment.
Student conservation groups and religious organizations at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and at UW-Stout will also be contacted.
Simpson said that every religious tradition has something to contribute to environmental action, and called for a “return to an ecological spirituality that will renew the Earth.”
Mike Huggins, a working group member, said he didn’t “think you’re going to get the action you need unless you talk about values” that fuel individuals’ concerns about the environment, “something that’s important to them personally.”
Values such as justice, faith and kindness – and connections to the Earth itself – were mentioned a examples in the discussion that followed. Huggins said that including “respect” in that list was too vague, and suggested that “respect for what” needed to be specified.
The working group’s next meeting will be at 4 p.m. on Dec. 8, at the church, 202 W. Grand Ave. in Eau Claire.. Members of the public re welcome to attend.
Note: both Simpson and Huggins are members of the CVPost’s board of directors.