By LeeAnn Beres, Executive Director of Earth Ministry
Earth Ministry, a non-profit organization located in Seattle, is in the unique position of connecting faith with the work of the environmental movement.
Many religious traditions have a strong heritage of valuing the natural world, and Earth Ministry works to inspire and motivate people of faith to act on those values.
Over the last sixteen years, Earth Ministry has been a significant partner in conservation efforts within Washington State and at the federal level. Through Earth Ministry’s partnership with Washington Wilderness Coalition and other conservation groups, the faith community has added their voice to the collective call for action on issues such as the Roadless Rule, the creation of the new Wild Sky Wilderness, and the ongoing effort to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
In 2006, Earth Ministry became the first faith organization to join Priorities for a Healthy Washington, a coalition of conservation organizations working to pass environmental bills in the state legislature. In both 2007 and 2008, the coalition achieved unprecedented success, passing all four of its environmental priorities each year.
Like other citizens, bishops, pastors, and church members participate in conservation work by signing statements of support, meeting with their elected officials, and writing letters to the editors of their local paper. The faith community adds a unique perspective by speaking about our moral obligation to care for God’s Earth—a strongly convicted, yet non-partisan, message.
Wild places are the source of many peoples’ connections with God. If that were the only reason for conservation, it would be sufficient cause for our efforts. However, preserving the human-Spirit connection is not Earth Ministry’s only motivation—wilderness is valuable in its own right because of the indispensable services wild areas provide for the rest of creation. Forests are natural carbon sinks, cleaning our air and storing human-created pollutants. Rivers and lakes are the source of our clean drinking water. And all wild areas provide homes to our fellow creatures—sustaining the very web of life.
In closing, I leave you with a quote from the most recent letter sent by faith leaders to Representative Dave Reichert and Senator Patty Murray regarding their legislation to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness: “Let us together be humble in the face of God and God’s creation. Let us protect the remnants of wild creation while we still can, for the sake of our faith, our children, future generations, and God’s myriad creatures.”
LeeAnne Beres is the Executive Director of Earth Ministry.