The native name for the Cahaba River, “Waters from Above,” reminds us of the origin of all our rivers and speaks to the sense of the sacred that many of us find down by the riverside.
“The stewardship of creation is one of the primal vocations of humanity.” -Episcopal Diocesan Bishop Henry N. Parsley
CRS FAITH-BASED INITIATIVES
The Cahaba River Society is reaching out to faith communities for care of creation. We are part of a growing movement in our region to bring together people from faith communities, environmental groups, civic groups, and the development profession to collaborate for watershed and drinking water conservation, with a connection to energy use and calming climate change.
Recognizing that conserving our environment is a spiritual responsibility, many churches across the nation are calling for their congregations to take action, offering assistance to local conservation advocates, and striving to instill a sense of moral obligation for the care of creation in their congregations.
While CRS’s policy work and positions are scientifically based, many of us are also motivated by a spiritual connection to the river and deeply-felt commitment to be stewards of the Cahaba, a beautiful, rich part of creation. CRS respects and values the contributions and participation by those of all belief systems. Many of the stakeholders in our watershed are members of faith communities who wish to better understand how they can care for creation.
CRS is strategically working to inform and inspire faith communities in the following ways, and there are many collaborative faith-based activities underway. Follow links below for more information.
- Read CRS’s Open Letter to our members and supporters about our outreach to faith groups
- Invite CRS to come speak to your church, synagogue, and other spiritual group
- Schedule a Shane Hulsey CLEAN environmental education river trip for your church youth group or other faith-based group. CRS is working to bring youth and family groups out on the Cahaba so they can experience its majestic qualities and grow up with a strong desire to be one of its future caretakers. Call Kim or Gordon at CRS at 205-322-5326, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- Access links to the Care of Creation teachings of a wide variety of faiths.
- Learn about our area’s Watersheds & Warming collaboration for drinking water conservation and watershed protection between people of faith, scientists and science educators, citizens and civic leaders, and professionals in development and real estate. Learn about the Watershed & Warming 6 Weeks Study Guide for faith groups and the evolving AL Interfaith Environmental Initiative.
- Learn more about the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama Task Force for The Stewardship of Creation, a model for leading and reaching out to congregations and a partner with CRS in building collaborative efforts and faiths.
The Cahaba River Society speaker’s program is actively reaching out to faith communities and congregations in the Cahaba watershed and the area served by the Birmingham Water Board (generally Jefferson County).
Please invite CRS staff to bring a presentation to your church, synagogue, or other spiritual group. We will enlighten with breathtaking photographs and information about the Cahaba’s values and challenges and will bring suggestions and resources for practical things to do at home, the church, or office to be sound stewards of our water resources.
To schedule a CRS speaker, contact Kim Adams at email@example.com or 205-322-5326 ext. 418.
A primary partner linking CRS and many other groups is the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama Task Force for The Stewardship of Creation, which has hosted numerous events, seminars and collaborative projects. The Task Force exists to educate the people of the diocese, to advocate for wise and just environmental policy, and to provide opportunities for service in the stewardship of earth. The group provides information about sustainability resources and activities for parishes and holds an annual retreat and other educational gatherings. The Task Force currently has 90 Liaisons as connections to bring information and activities to parishes. The Task Force was the primary organizer of the Watersheds & Warming collaboration (more below). The Rt. Rev. Henry N. Parsley, Jr. has embraced and amplified the Task Force’s care of creation message – read his moving address to the 177th Diocesan Convention, “Tending the Garden” held February 22, 2008.
Dr. Eleanor DelBene, a CRS board member and the founding Chair of the Diocesan Task Force says, “We look forward to inspiring and supporting further collaboration between faith communities, scientists and science educators, and environmental and broad-based community leadership.” The current chair is Gerri Aston, firstname.lastname@example.org for more info and to join this group.
The Center, through the vehicle of the Alabama Environmental Education Consortium (ALEEC), has organized a series of luncheon meetings and conferences in 2007 and 2008 to bring faith leaders, environmental and civic leaders, scientists and science educators of our region together, inspired by national leaders, to explore common ground and the potential for joint work for the stewardship of earth. The effort began around an Earth Day 2007 visit from famed biologist Dr. E. O. Wilson, who in his book “The Creation” calls for faith and science to collaborate to save Creation, the earth’s biological diversity. Contact Ginny Brown, email@example.com and 205-726-4246.
The Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, with a grant from the World Wildlife Fund, and with support from the Cahaba River Society and many other groups, held a Watersheds & Warming Workshop in October 2007. The workshop brought together about 65 faith leaders from many denominations, scientists and science educators, conservation and community leaders, utility representatives, and real estate/development professionals to learn about the water efficiency/energy connection and begin collaborative planning.
Read more about the workshop, which was keynoted by CRS founding director Don Elder, who is now at the national nonprofit River Network, Inc. and is focusing attention on the water use-energy-climate change connection.
Many ideas for joint watershed and drinking water conservation projects were generated at the workshop, and collaborative work groups are continuing to meet in 2008 to plan and launch these projects. The initiative merged with the faith-science-civic-environmental collaborative efforts spearheaded by the Vulcan Materials Center and ALEEC (below) to become the group currently called the Alabama Interfaith Environmental Initiative.
From the Watersheds & Warming collaborative work, the Diocesan Task Force for the Stewardship of Creation has developed a 6-week study guide for Episcopal congregations that can easily be adapted to other faith communities and for secular uses. The Watersheds and Warming Study Guide provides information about the values of Alabama’s watersheds, root causes of degradation, and many strategies to conserve our water resources, reduce our carbon footprint, and live more sustainably as individuals, families and church communities. The Guide will lead a process for learning, planning, committing to action, and celebrating God’s creation. The Guide is now available through delegates to the Task Force for the Stewardship of Creation, or watch http://www.stewardsforcreation.org/ for a downloadable version you can use.
The Vulcan Center / ALEEC initiative and Watersheds and Warming collaborative merged efforts and joint projects in early 2008. The group is in the process of defining its name and mission, while working groups are forging ahead with exciting projects such as the Saving Our Water conference headed by the Green Resource Center, held in March 2008; forming an Alabama Chapter of Interfaith Power and Light; planning a “10% Tithe for Creation” watersheds and warming education and action project, and planning the May 31, 2008 Care of Creation training for faith leaders at Camp McDowell – for more info about that training contact Maggie Johnston at Maggie@campmcdowell.com.
To learn more about the AL Faith-Environmental Initiative and all its collaborative projects, contact the co-convenor, Eleanor Delbene at Eleanor@presence.org.