Faith-Based Affiliate Events at Global Climate Action Summit – Day 1

Today I participated with people from all over the world in a Talanoa dialogue about what it means for people of faith to achieve a “Just Transition” to a more climate-conscious world.

Talanoa is a word used in the Pacific Islander nations (the region called Oceania) to describe a process of determination wherein all voices are welcomed at the table and encouraged to share their stories as we collectively work to an outcome.

It was a fascinating process.  The main points our work group determined over the day (a 6-hour meeting!) were organized into three sections: our present reality, where we’d like to be, and how we might get there.

Where We Are:

*There is devastation of creation as an impact of climate change

*Climate change brings environmental justice and social justice together

*A “Just Transition” is an incredibly complex process that can be intimidating

*Facilitating a “Just Transition” requires learning the skills of deep listening to the most possible voices

*Faith communities bring a different “bottom line” to the discussion.  We have an intrinsic understanding of sacrifice.  We bring social teachings to the table that serve as an ethic.  We also bring a message of hope that is desperately needed.

Where We Want To Go:

*We would like to be able to say, at the end of our lives, “we did well on that”

*Lower emissions are critical, but lowering poverty is just as critical

*Transitioning to a new economy that is equitable, participatory, and sustainable

*Humanity fulfilling the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

How Will We Get There?

*Privilege must make space for the marginalized, particularly in leadership

*Recognize that available faith-based resources are present and numerous

*Re-interpret our long-standing traditions and practices – there is value in these

*Be involved with change on all levels – not only lifestyle, but also corporate/institutional, public policy, and worldview

*Enable training for faith communities interested in engaging with the issue of systemic change

*Improve communications in as many ways as possible, through relationships and deep listening between ALL parties as the primary way

*View all of our work through a three-sided lens: economic equality, racial equality, and sustainability

We were also reminded that to “love God” or “love neighbor” in the abstract, detached manner is not love, but simply an abstract concept.  Engagement with the issues of climate change is at its heart engagement with one another, because climate change impacts us all, and our interrelatedness means that “love” is a very active and engaged verb.

Our collective work will be crafted into a submission for consideration by the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  This event was co-sponsored and coordinated by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – my national church body.  It is deeply satisfying to know that my church is very much a part of living our faith in such critical ways.

It is midnight in the Bay Area – a very long day!  But a good one.  More tomorrow.  May you be blessed.


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