“Laudato Si,” Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on spirituality, climate change and environmental degradation will be the subject of an interfaith workshop on Saturday (March 4) from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The program is scheduled for the Ecumenical Religious Center, 110 Garfield Ave., on the UW-Eau Claire campus. The event is free and open to the public, and will include lunch.
The format for discussing the Pope’s letter will be three small-group discussions and a final plenary session, all led by members of Eau Claire’s Eco-Spirituality Working Group which is co-sponsoring the event. JONAH (Joining Our Neighbors, Advancing Hope) is the other co-sponsor.
JONAH is a Chippewa Valley faith-based group focused on social justice issues. Some of its members are part of the Working Group, which is led by Rev. Dean Simpson of Grace Lutheran Church.
The event will also include a prayer for the environment taken from the end of the Pope’s encyclical, and a music interlude. Copies of “Laudato Si” (“Praise Be to You, Lord”) will be available for purchase at a cost of $5.
Familiarity with “Laudato Si” will be helpful for participants to have but is not required, Simpson said. Handouts with excerpts from the encyclical and discussion questions about each passage will form the basis for the discussions.
The final plenary session will focus on actions that individuals and groups could take to further some of the goals set forth by Pope Francis. In the encyclical, he strongly criticized consumerism, irresponsible development and relentless exploitation of the environment.
“People think the encyclical is about climate change, but it is about so much more,” Simpson said. “It’s a vision of a wonderful healing way of life.”
The Eco-Spirituality Working Group consists of more than a dozen people whose goal is to promote awareness of issues such as climate change and environmental preservation through the lens of religious faith and spirituality.
This will not be the first interfaith discussion of the Pope’s encyclical in Eau Claire. Shortly after it was issued, members of three local churches – Grace Lutheran, St. John’s Lutheran and Unity Christ Center – met together three times to discuss the 184-page document.
Parking for the Saturday program will be available in the Hibbard lot at the corner of Garfield and Park Avenues. Further information is available from Simpson at 715-222-3797.
(Note: Pastor Dean Simpson is a member of the CVPost’s Board of Directors.)