Earth Day celebrations come early

Posted April 20, 2007
Lauren Pollard
Eight year old Cynthia Phipps participated in the “green” fellowship, by planting her own flower to take home and care for. Members of the La Verne United Methodist Community gathered on Sunday to participate in the Earth Day Celebration co-sponsored by the Sierra Club. Members shared in singing, testimonials, and scripture readings.

The La Verne United Methodist Church held its first Earth Day celebration last Sunday. The service, “A celebration of our planet and its creator” brought about 20 local residents out to celebrate one week early.

The congregation sang hymns and read passages about the Earth that focussed on “creation” and protecting that creation.

“Christians have a responsibility to save the earth,” Alma Roberts, chairwoman of education at La Verne United Methodist Church said. “We need to be active. With global warming, the earth is in crisis right now.”

Roberts has contacted local churches in the area to join and do their part to help to celebrate the environment.

“The Methodists were the ones that understood that we could find God in creation,” said Jennifer Snow, a member of Progessive Christians Uniting.

Snow understands that everyone can do their part, but she advises that it’s not enough.

“We need to come together (as a) community,” Snow said. “We have to …make it clear we care about climate change.”

Snow noted the climate changes going on in India.

“Some of the poorest people on earth are suffering, because our culture is so dependent on fossil fuels,” Snow said.

Snow explained there were two ways that the church can respond: pay attention and community. She urges people to look around at the situation of the Earth.

“In every age and everytime we are called to do something for God,” Snow said. “We’re called to pay attention.”

“Green fellowship” followed the service with organic food and naturally made lemonade, flowers for planting and a letter-writing session with letters addressed to Congressman David Dreier urging him to protect “Forest Service recommended wilderness areas” where church members can go pray.

Juana Torres from the Sierra Club helped organize the event.
“This is the Sierra Club and the United Methodist Church of La Verne to get the word out to the entire community of La Verne about caring for the local forests,” Torres said. “We want all local churches to know it is our responsibility to take care of the mountains and to be active.”

Torres is a part of “Caring for Creation,” a program designed for religious communities. The program, part of the Sierra Club’s Southern California Forests Campaign provides “presentations, meditative walks, hikes and service opportunities” to people of faith.

“Churches don’t think the environment is something to be involved with,” Torres said.

Snow, who works on environmental justice in church and has a doctorate in American Religious History wants to inform churches of their role in the natural world.

“I love to talk to people in church about the environment,” Snow said. “They think caring about the Earth is something for hippies.”

Snow believes the Christian community is being called on.

“Whenever the earth is being abused, people are being abused. Being a community of faith you can have hope,” Snow said. “Our faith is that you don’t have to do it all by yourself especially environmental issues because they’re so big and overwhelming.”

Snow and Torres worked together organizing hikes in the area, including the “Global Warming Stepping up Hike.”

Church member Robert Phipps brought his two daughters to the event.
“We went on one of the hikes at the Ice House Canyon, Cynthia was taking everything in.” Phipps said about his daughter. “If you go slow with nature, you get all the details.”

Phipps wants his daughters to grow up knowing there’s more to life than just tv.

“We contacted local churches and it’s our first time so we weren’t sure people would come,” Roberts said. “If we do this again, we’d like to work more with the college. I’m sure they’re students who are concerned.”

The Sierra Club is working throughout the San Gabriel Valley to inform other churches that they need to be active in the protecting the environment as well.

Join Harvey Mudd College for their Earth Day celebration this Sunday from 11a.m. to 6p.m.

Earth Day is traditionally celebrated on April 22. It was created after concern over environmental problems rose.

The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970. The Environmental Protection Agency was also formed in 1970.

Alexandra Lozano can be reached at alozano@ulv.edu.

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