“This is racism. This is environmental racism.”
These words are credited to Dr. Benjamin Chavis following his 1982 arrest in Warren County.
Dr. Chavis was organizing efforts to fight against the government’s decision to dump 40,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil into Warren County farming communities of color, when he was arrested for “driving too slow.” He helped to coin the phrase, “environmental racism,” and has spent his lifetime working for justice, protection and healing of the most marginalized in our society. (More information about this story can be found here.)
Oftentimes when we use terms like creation care or environmentalism, our minds go to protecting wilderness areas, keeping plastic out of oceans, and driving electric vehicles. We want to stop climate change, but we view its effects as still a long way off.
The truth of the matter is, creation care, environmentalism, and fighting climate change are acts of justice, protection and compassion for our fellow human beings. Climate change, environmental degradation, and toxic pollution have been adversely impacting communities of color, the impoverished, and the less-educated for decades now. We can easily see the effects as we witness climate refugees leaving once-hospitable lands and communities held back by illness rates well above the average.
This is why our theme for Redeeming Creation 2022 is Hope and Healing; our world needs hope and healing now, not in ten or twenty years.
This is also why we are excited to have Rev. Dr. Michelle Lewis as our keynote speaker, to address the crossroads of environmental, racial and community justice, and what we can do today.
Michelle Lewis is the Executive Director of the Peace Garden Project and also leads spiritual formation groups at Duke. She is passionate about the intersection of religion and the environment, as well as helping people and communities reach their full potential through creativity that engages the spiritual and the natural worlds. She is an award winning filmmaker and hosted the Radio Show Unpacking Faith that examined connecting our spirituality with daily life. Michelle is the first woman of color to hold joint Master’s degrees in Religion and the Environment from Yale. She is current candidate for the United States Senate here in North Carolina. In her free time she bakes cakes.
In addition to Dr. Lewis, we will also hear from Rev. Jenny Phillips of UMC Global Ministries, who will inform us of the work the UMC is doing globally to fight climate change and help those whose lives are already being harmed.
Rev. Jenny Phillips is Senior Technical Advisor for Environmental Sustainability at Global Ministries. She works within the agency to identify sustainability strategies and supports annual conferences, and local churches in their creation care ministries. She launched the agency’s renewable energy and energy efficiency programs and has directed the Global Ministries EarthKeepers program since 2017. Jenny is co-convener of the United Methodist Just and Equitable Net-Zero Coalition and is on the Georgia Interfaith Power and Light Advisory Council. She has a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Washington. Jenny is an elder from the Pacific Northwest Conference and lives in the greater Atlanta area.
Redeeming Creation 2022: Hope and Healing is a virtual conference hosted by the NC Conference’s Creation Care Committee. The event is April 23 from 9:30-12:30, and will be held via Zoom. In addition to Dr. Lewis and Rev. Phillips, we will also hear from Bishop Hope Morgan Ward and Dr. Daniel Joranko.
Fill out the form below to register.