Some say God is love, while others say God is dead. But a handful of faith communities in the Tri-Cities have joined together to say God is green.
The Green Interfaith Network consists of nine congregations who want to foster sustainable living in the name of creation care. The group was founded two years ago and has continued to grow steadily, with about 50 members attending their most recent monthly meetings.
“Our hope is to create communication among people of faith and at the same time provide resources and encouragement to be more responsible to the earth,” said Carol Landis, president of the organization.
Landis is a member of Munsey United Methodist Church, but said the group is open to all denominations and religions. “Most faith traditions have some sort of statement about stewardship of the earth,” said Landis.
“There is an ethic involved in creation care. It just seems a natural fit for communities concerned to do work together to maintain and sustain the creation that we’ve been given.”
Primarily the group hosts guest speakers from the region to discuss different niche issues about sustainability and stewardship. It also recognizes area faith communities for their success in promoting and developing eco-friendly practices in their building plans and missions.
“The vision of our group is really ... to become a spiritual voice for environmental sustainability in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia,” said Landis. The group is an offshoot of Interfaith Power and Light, which started as an Episcopal effort in California.
Over 13 years, the program has spread to 38 states and 10,000 congregations of numerous faiths. Next week, the Rev. Sally Bingham, director of Interfaith Power and Light, will make a stop in Johnson City during her tour of Tennessee, meeting with Green Interfaith Network members and those interested in the group.
“Sally is coming to our area to present encouragement and help people become aware of what others are doing nationwide,” said Landis.
Bingham will offer a presentation Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the Jones Meeting Room of the Johnson City Public Library. She will discuss the religious community’s response to climate change. The discussion is free and open to the public.
Bingham will then host a breakfast the following morning at St. John’s Episcopal Church for religious leaders and clergy.
“I think that the environmental community has been working on climate change for 30 years and that we haven’t made the progress we need to make in the protection of climate,” said Bingham.
“Bringing the religious voice in is going to be the voice that makes the change we need. It’s my belief that when people understand they have a moral responsibility for the future and that their behavior counts, then people will make the changes we need to make.”