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West Michigan Environmental Action Council: Religion, Ecology, and Spirituality Working Group


Abstract

West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to environmental education, advocacy, and citizen empowerment. Among other activities and projects, WMEAC sponsors working groups on various environmental issues in western Michigan, including one on Religion, Ecology, and Spirituality (RES). The RES Working Group is open to people from any religious tradition and meets on a monthly basis for discussion and event planning. RES is currently working toward the following four goals:

  1. Helping religious communities in west Michigan see the spiritual dimensions of caring for the earth

  2. Providing religious communities with resources that will help them become more ecologically responsible

  3. Encouraging religious communities to model sustainability

  4. Fostering global justice by promoting ethical consumer practices on the local level

Over the course of its history, the Group has addressed numerous issues, including land stewardship, sustainable economics, environmental justice, urban sprawl, climate change, and the role of environmental rituals in religious traditions. In addition to organizing programs and speakers for local religious groups, RES celebrates Earth Day by holding environmental religious services and sponsors biennial conferences on religion, spirituality, and ecology. The Group promotes responsible resource use and provides religious groups with guidelines for energy conservation. RES also provides educational materials, such as books, cassettes, and videos, through its lending library.

Religion Inter-religious: Islam
Geographic Location United States of America
(Michigan)
Duration of Project 1997–Present
History The Religion, Ecology, and Spirituality Working Group grew out of a series of WMEAC discussions in 1997 about the relationship between religion and ecology. The goal in forming RES was to gather a religiously diverse group of people to work together toward mobilizing religious communities around environmental issues. In 1998, RES and the United Methodist Church organized a “Stewards of Creation” conference with Bishop Gale White as the keynote speaker. Calvin DeWitt was the plenary speaker for the next RES conference, “Jubilee for the Land,” in 2000. That same year, RES opposed the construction of a new highway bypass through farm and forest land by organizing a “Bypass Pilgrimage” along the route. In 2001, RES held a “Song, Silence, and Celebration” service on Earth Day. The third biennial conference, “Spirituality and the Environment”, was held in 2002 and featured speaker John Grim. The Earth Day service that year was titled, “Return to the Garden” and focused on agricultural issues. In 2003, the interreligious Earth Day service focused on the theme of “Blessing Waters” and included readings, songs, and chants from numerous religious and spiritual traditions.
Mission Statement “We affirm that all faith communities are compelled by their traditions and sacred texts to be actively involved in the care and nurturing of the Earth. We aspire to engage and unite faith communities and environmental groups in promoting the sustainability of our resources. We provide support for people of faith to integrate their spiritual life with their ecological values.”
Partner Organizations Better Understanding of Urban Sprawl
Diocese of Grand Rapids
Faith in Motion
Grand Rapids Area Center for Ecumenism
Grand Rapids Dominicans
Interfaith Dialogue Association
Lakeshore Interfaith Institute
Michigan Interfaith Coalition for Creation
The Sierra Club
Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources None Listed
Contact Information WMEAC
Religion, Ecology, and Spirituality Working Group
1514 Wealthy SE
Suite 280
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Ph:       616.451.3051
Fax:      616.451.3054
Email: (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)