Faithful stewards and Earth lovers gathered by the hundreds to connect, learn, and celebrate with one another in Chicago's Field Museum on Sunday, October 15th.
Faith in Place’s Second Annual Green Team Summit boasted hundreds of participants from all over Illinois and even beyond state lines. Participants even rode buses from Lake County and Champaign/Urbana to join in the day’s activities.
It was an interfaith experience, with those from various faith traditions (Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Protestant Christian, Unitarian, etc.,) and those with no faith affiliation in attendance.
As the name would suggest, many participants came alongside their Green Teams. Green Teams are groups of people who combine their efforts for a common purpose – to love and care for the Earth. For many, this call is rooted in their faith, and so they work with others in their faith communities to make moral choices about their environmental impact.
Even with the threat of rain and cold winds, excited guests swarmed the venue from the time the event commenced at 9:00 am, until it concluded at 5:00 pm.
The summit hosted various workshops, which took an intensive look at some important environmental issues. These informational sessions covered a wide range of topics including: climate change, climate justice and local food, the power of a Green Team, moving beyond Environmentalism for environmental justice, engaging with Faith in Place’s programs and resources, and a workshop for youth featuring Faith in Place's Eco-Ambassdors.
Spanish translation was provided for two of the workshops. These sessions provided resources as well as facilitated transformative, inspiring, and productive discussion.
The Field Museum, who donated the space to Faith in Place for the event, generously granted Summit guests free general admission to the museum’s many exhibits. Many used their lunch session, where they were invited to enjoy a free lunch from Hannah’s Bretzel, to do such.
In the afternoon everyone gathered in the theatre, where many Green Teams were recognized for their valiant efforts in Earth care with a "Green Team Award". Those awarded were: Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist – Palatine, Trinity United Church of Christ – Chicago, Chicago Sinai Congregation – Chicago, and Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana.
Others received honorable mentions to recognize their efforts. Those honored were: Ascension Catholic Church – Oak Park, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church – Glen Ellyn, First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights, St. Luke Union Church – Bloomington, Covenant United Church of Christ – South Holland, Vernon Park Church of God – Lynwood. Awards were presented by Executive Director Rev. Brian Sauder, North & West Suburbs Outreach Director, Dan Huntsha, and Chicago Outreach Director, Veronica Kyle.
A plenary session immediately followed the awards ceremony. Policy Director, Pastor Vance introduced the keynote speaker Victor Dickson. Dickson serves as the President/CEO of Safer Foundation, the premier criminal justice organization in Chicago.
His speech connected the dots between environmentalism, mass incarceration, and a just economy, and detailed how the Safer Foundation is partnering with Faith in Place to create opportunities for clean energy jobs and training programs. Dickson’s powerful message was met with a standing ovation.
An interfaith clergy panel complemented the message, adding their remarks on the topics at hand. The panel featured Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, Rev. Gyoshin Laurel Ross, Soto Zen, Buddhist priest at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate, and Imam Nazim Mangera of the Muslim Community Center.
Several organization who sponsor or partner with Faith in Place were present, staffing small “stations” where visitors could learn more about their work and Earth care efforts.
Even after the festivities officially concluded, guests were happy to laugh and talk with another. Upon leaving, guests were invited to leave their feedback on the summit and were able to enter a raffle for many fabulous prizes, including a weekend driving an electric car, CSA shares, and passes to The Field Museum and Chicago Botanic Gardens.
One guest commented about their experience in the survey, “This was a very exciting event to attend. To be able to connect with likeminded people and see the impact of the scope of the work being done in the area of sustainability and learn new things (information) was terrific! Also connected with old and new friends …”
Thanks to all who attended and made this event a success and are further inspired to take action in their communities! Faith in Place is here to empower you and your faith community in these efforts – please contact us if you would like Green Team Coaching or to engage with one of our programs.
Want to review what you heard in your workshops or connect with the presenters? Unable to attend and want to learn more? View PDFs of the presentations:
Climate Change: A Hot Mess Facilitated by State Representative Sonya Harper, Board member Dr. Jalees Rehman, North & West Suburbs Outreach Director Dan Huntsha, and Lake County Outreach Director Celeste Flores
Engaging with Faith in Place’s Programs & Resources Facilitated by Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Kari K Steele, former Faith in Place interim Executive Director Henrietta Saunders, and Migration & Me Outreach Coordinator Rev. Debra Williams
The Forgotten Sector: Climate Justice & Local Food Facilitated by Board Member Avijit Ghosh, Outreach Support Christina Krost, and Chicago Outreach Director Veronica Kyle
The Power of a Green Team Facilitated by Steven Huels, Outreach Volunteer, Velma Pate, Green Team leader at Covenant United Church of Christ, Karen Lewis, Eco-Chavura (Green Team) leader at Temple Sholom, and Central Illinois Outreach Director Rev. Cindy Shepherd
Climate Justice: Beyond Environmentalism Facilitated by Amanda Hanley of the Hanley Foundation, Jon Carson of Trajectory Solar, and Faith in Place Policy Director Pastor Booker Vance