By Pat Almonrode
About 300 ELCA members, including many from the Metropolitan New York Synod, were among the 400,000 people who took to the streets of New York City in the People’s Climate March on Sunday, September 21. See photos of Lutherans at the march.
The historic march – by far the largest climate mobilization ever – was intended to show world leaders the breadth and depth of popular support for strong, coordinated, and urgent action to combat climate change.
Lutherans in critical roles
ELCA Advocacy helped Lutherans from around the country attend the march by providing information on housing and transportation. Lutherans at Interfaith Power & Light, a national organization offering a religious response to the climate crisis, helped that organization bring buses from upstate New York, Connecticut, and other parts of the country. Our Savior’s Atonement and Advent, in Manhattan, were among the many New York City congregations that hosted marchers from out of town. Marchers came from as far as Indiana, Louisiana, and California.
Roosevelt Credit, a Broadway veteran and the bass/baritone soloist at Saint Peter’s, Manhattan, was a featured musician at a pre-march multi-faith service, and led all 10,000 members of the interfaith contingent out of its assembly area singing "We Are Marching in the Light of God." Watch a video of the singing.
ELCA Advocacy’s support for the march
ELCA Advocacy provided signs and t-shirts calling for "Climate Justice for All God’s Creation" and featuring the ELCA logo. Mary Minette, ELCA director for environmental education and advocacy, and Tia Upchurch-Freelove, program director for communications and grassroots outreach at ELCA Advocacy, also marched.
Explaining the importance of Lutheran participation, Minette noted that "climate change is already impacting our church’s work to alleviate and eliminate hunger and threatens the future well-being of all. We believe that we are called to be stewards of God’s good creation and to care for our neighbors, whoever and wherever they may be."
The march was timed to catch the attention of world leaders in town for a special UN Climate Summit on September 23. It certainly did that – at the summit’s opening ceremonies, every speaker referred to the march and to the political will it demonstrated.
According to Minette, the summit "begins a two-year period of global attention to the issue of climate change. In December, world leaders will convene in Lima, Peru, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to discuss a new global agreement on climate change, with the hope that a final agreement will emerge by the next meeting, in Paris in December of 2015."
So now what do we do?
We shouldn’t – we can’t – just wait for 2015. Here are some ways to continue and build on the momentum created by the People’s Climate March:
- Sign a petition to let the Administration and Congress know that the US must be a strong leader on climate justice during the United Nations climate negotiations.
- Join with other people of faith to provide comments to the Environmental Protection Agency on its Clean Power Plan and the need to reduce the US carbon footprint.
- Sign up with ELCA Advocacy to get updates and action alerts on climate and other issues.
- Join OurVoices.net, a campaign to get millions of people of faith and moral belief to pray for the 2015 Paris talks to succeed in producing a strong global agreement to deal with the climate crisis.
- Consider asking your alma mater and any other organizations or institutions to which you belong to divest from holdings in companies on Carbon Tracker’s top 200 carbon-intensive list. For more information and for divestment campaigns to get involved in, go here, here, or here.
- Join your local chapter of the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, GreenPeace, 350.org, or any of the many other organizations working to protect the environment.
- Join (or start) a Green Committee at your church. For help and suggestions, contact our synod’s Environmental Stewardship Committee.
As big and important as it was, the People’s Climate March was only the first step. We’re all called to care for God’s creation; let’s get to work!