The Intersection of Poverty and Environment Forum

 

Saturday, April 21, 2012  
From St. Mark’s Cathedral, Salt Lake City, Utah
 

“To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.”

—  one of the Five Anglican Marks of Mission
 

This Episcopal Church-initiated forum – webcast aired prior to Earth Day 2012 – is in keeping with the belief that our church and the faith community at large have a unique role in bringing the principles of environmental justice to life.

The program at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Mark in Salt Lake City was free and open to the public. 

Webcast viewers were able to submit questions to panelists during the two-hour webcast by e-mailing publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org. The forum is ideal for group watching and discussion, or on-demand viewing for Earth Day observations as well as Sunday School, discussions groups, community gatherings, and other get-togethers. Resources to optimize viewing and participation are available through the links below.

 

The Program

Environmental justice initiatives address the mechanisms that give rise to class, gender, and racial disparities related to poverty. In the United States, 37 million people live below the poverty line.  The forum was intended to increase the faith community’s efforts to reduce environmental injustice as it affects those less fortunate.

The program was moderated by Kim Lawton, senior editor and correspondent of PBS’s acclaimed program Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly, and the keynote speaker was Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Prior to ordination, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori was an oceanographer and recently served on the Environment and Climate Change Task Force of the President’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

The Panels

Two 45-minute panels followed the keynote address.

(1) Can Sustainability Initiatives Lift Those in Poverty? discussed the importance of engaging those in poverty as an essential element in planning and creating sustainable environmental improvement efforts – beginning at the church and community level. 

Panelists included Bonnie Anderson, D.D., president of the House of Deputies, and author of  Spirituality and the Earth; Exploring Connections; George Handley, Ph.D., Professor of Humanities, Brigham Young University, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, contributor to LDS Perspectives on Environmental Stewardship; Forrest Cuch, CEO, Ute Tribal Enterprises, LLC; and Majora Carter, president of the Majora Carter Group, who has pioneered economic development-based solutions for urban environmental issues.    

(2) Reducing Environmental Health Consequences for Those in Poverty recognized that the health of people living in poverty is disproportionately affected by environmental issues compared with the general population. The panel discussed the consequences of health issues caused by environmental degradation, and how through collaboration and community problem solving, local faith and community groups can make a positive difference to environmental health, including that of children. 

Panelists included Cecelia Calvo, Environmental Justice Project Coordinator, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Gerry Hardison, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Maseno Mission Hospital, Kenya, and Episcopal Church missionary;  Jaslyn Dobrahner, Environmental Justice Pilot Program Coordinator, EPA; and the Rev. Michael Livingston, director of the Poverty Initiative, National Council of Churches.

The forum led the way in implementing the recommendation of the Environment and Climate Change Committee of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to hold regional conferences on engaging faith and community groups in environmental stewardship.

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