Faith groups build community with conservation in mind
Local events highlight how faith and environmental concerns are not mutually exclusive
(VISALIA, CA) - A variety of local faith groups are engaged with environmental concerns, despite common misperceptions that they may not be receptive to the message of environmental stewardship.
Episcopalians in the Diocese of San Joaquin embarked April 22 on a 22-day tour of points within the Central California diocese including Kaweah Oaks Preserve. The pilgrimage sought to draw awareness to the intersections of environmental disaster, racial discrimination and migrant exploitation and to reckon with the diocese’s own complicity in unjust systems.
The 1,100-mile pilgrimage – El Camino de la Pascua, or the Way of Easter – was be led by Bishop David Rice. He and the diocese’s group of pilgrims traveled by carpool and on foot to a wide range of sites that represent what the diocese describes as contemporary places of crucifixion and resurrection, from a homeless shelter to the Sequoia National Forest.
“Being out there engaging with partners and networks and becoming familiar with our larger context, it needs to be synonymous with the air that we breathe,” Rice said in a phone interview with Episcopal News Service. “That is the road map and will continue to be the road map for this diocese for years to come.”
Former SRT staffer Teri Van Huss, now an Episcopalian deacon, was instrumental in including Kaweah Oaks as a destination for the trek.
Another Visalia-based faith group, Eagle's NEST US, has a mission of "providing quality creation education leading to better environmental integrity and conservation," said the nonprofit's founder Todd Slinde, also a former SRT staff member. Eagle's NEST is a Christian nonprofit that educates churches from Bakersfield to Sacramento on environmental and conservation issues from a faith perspective, among other good works in the community.