Interfaith groups throughout Philadelphia came together to challenge climate change deniers as part of the National Day Against Denial recently, and Black organizations want to keep up the momentum.
Christians, Jews, Muslims and other faith communities braved the cold to gather for a march through Center City on Monday. The two-prone effort had others engaged in phone-bank calls to policymakers and lawmakers.
Members of Philadelphia PA Interfaith Power & Light joined with groups outside the faith community to champion the cause of keeping the issue in the political forefront as President-elect Donald Trump has nominated people who question or refute climate change science.
The Rev. Cheryl Pyrch of the Philadelphia PAIPL was among those answering the call to action.
“This is part of the national response to the climate deniers to let them know we are organized,” Pyrch said.
“I could not make it to the event,” he added. “I do know that Rev. Alison Cornish [executive director of PAIPL] was planning this for a while. The 350.org is also involved under the direction of Mitch James. They are involved in different climate environmental justice issues and are active right now.”
Philadelphia PAIPL plans to hold a brainstorming retreat to strategize on how it will help faith communities in the area address climate issues. The event is scheduled for Tuesday at the Summit Presbyterian Church in the Mount Airy section. Pyrch is the pastor at the church.
Mary Wade, founder of One Light, Building Respect in Community, said the issue of climate change came up at one of her recent events. But the associate minister at Wayland Temple Baptist Church in North Philadelphia said race, violence and environmental issues should remain among the focuses for faith-based groups and churches.
“Underlining every issue confronting our community is a disregard for the integrity of life,” Wade said. “Whether in the workplace, by those in authority or everyday people walking the streets of the community, the problem is the same — a lack of appreciation for our Creator and the sacredness of life. There is a lack of awe and deep respect for the God, who created us all and this planet.
“Our national culture is that of extreme irreverence and lack of honor,” she said. “There is little respect and appreciation for the Creator and creation. This undermines and destroys the fiber of society and hope for our future on this planet.
“That’s why we must continue to call upon people of all faiths and goodwill to show dignity, respect and care,” Wade added.
Gloria Jones of Germantown was among those who attended a tree planting along Germantown Avenue. Though the trees planted by PAIPL and others are small, it still brings her great pleasure, she said.
“I believe in a God who loves us so much that he gave us a beautiful place to live,” Jones said. “I think it is wonderful that many are trying to make sure that we save this planet. I know that I try to do my part.
“When I talk about climate change, I find that most African-American Christians do believe it is real, but what I find is that most think other things are more important. I tell them if you cannot breathe or lose the earth, all those other things will not matter,” she said.
“So, I applaud any group that is speaking out about this,” Jone said.