Where religion and climate justice collide. | Monterey County NOW Intro

Pam Marino here. I have a statue of Saint Francis of Assisi in my garden for several reasons, one sentimental – my mother had a small statue in her garden for years when I was a child – the other because I am a fan of Francois.

I’m not Catholic, but I was curious enough to read a book and articles on Francis, the patron saint of animals and ecology. I admire him for his love of nature and his belief that all creatures, no matter how small, are important to God.

Unfortunately, not all Christians received the same memo as Francis. There is a Bible verse that has long been mangled to justify plundering the planet of its resources, Genesis 1:26: “And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creeping creatures that crawl on the earth. (King James version)

People saw the word “domination” and took the definition of “sovereignty or control” and ran with it. to use the Earth’s resources as they see fit, and without worrying about how their actions might harm the planet.

They have completely forgotten that being sovereign means not abusing those you rule, but actually taking care of them.. In the Genesis story, God makes a contract with humans to care for God’s creation.

It is a theology that has long been held by the Presbyterian Church, United States, dating back more than three decades. It’s also something preached by Pastor Mark Peake of the First Presbyterian Church of Monterey, who says that “dominion” means we have a responsibility to be stewards of creation.

The congregation took this responsibility seriously by installing solar panels on the roof above Fellowship Hall more than 10 years ago. They are currently planning to install a second set of panels to help the church achieve net zero on greenhouse gases.

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This fall, they are offering a six-session Sunday morning course called “Climate Justice.” led by Peake and class creator and organizer Ellen Tucker, a church elder.

Tucker tells me she was desperate for climate change until she started reading about regenerative agriculture, a growing method that can help reverse climate change. “I realized there could be solutions,” she says. “I wanted people in our church to have hope.”

Throughout the fall, Tucker and Peake, along with a list of guest speakerswill lead participants to examine solutions to climate change and discuss what people can do to help their neighbors here and around the world, as well as future generations.

The course is open to anyone interested. It will meet at 10 a.m. in Fellowship Hall, on the church campus at 501 Eldorado St., Monterey. More information at fpmonterey.org/contact.

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