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Hundreds of people from across Illinois, bus loads of kids and adults from Waukegan and Central Illinois, and even people from outside of the state, attended the recent Green Team Summit that took place at The Field Museum in Chicago on Sunday, September 25th. It shifted the way we understand how we relate to everything that surrounds us.
The Summit aimed to help people incorporate environmental consciousness into their faith communities through Green Teams, and to connect people of different faiths and from different geographic areas to support each other on Earth care activities.
Faith communities are already groups of people connected by a common purpose, and they hold a great deal of power when they act together. They also bring a moral voice to decisions about how we treat the planet and other people. Green Teams help make their faith communities aware of this power to act by educating their members about ecological issues. Throughout the day, the Summit provided resources and motivation for faith communities to strengthen their Earth care efforts.
Early in the morning on the day of the event, Faith in Place staff arrived at the venue and started to set up each of the classrooms that were going to be used to hold workshops and lunch chats to provide insights into. In small discussion groups, participants had the opportunity to raise concerns and share their ideas about the topics discussed.
Participants slowly began to arrive at the museum to be part of a fun day full of learning and recreation. The Field Museum, one of the main sponsors of the Green Team Summit, offered free access to attendees to explore the museum and visit the exhibits.
Other organizations joined Faith in Place’s vision and contributed as sponsors of the event. Each individual was fundamental in the process of making this event possible. Many of these sponsors were present at the summit, tabling at the exhibits hall and giving out information about their work.
Rev. Brian Sauder, Executive Director of Faith in Place, gave welcoming remarks and introduced, the keynote speaker, Mark Charles. As the son of a Navajo man and an American woman, Mark Charles provided a unique perspective to address complexities of American history regarding race, culture, and faith in relation with land ownership and natural resources. He invited us to understand our sacred relation to the Earth, and the importance of protecting our planet.
“As a faith community, we must reconcile with our Native brothers and sisters. An event like this, with the keynote speaker, is a start for reconciling and bringing about greater cultural and environmental justice,” said one of the participants.
After the Keynote presentation, each attendee had the opportunity to choose two workshops to attend. From learning how to start a Green Team, to getting ideas on how to improve an existing one, participants were able to learn more and take the knowledge back to their communities of faith. “I had the chance to visit all the workshops, it was a great experience! I learned a lot!” mentioned one attendee that thank for being invited to such an event.
In the closing ceremony, Faith in Place gave special recognition to different communities of faith that have integrated efforts in protecting our common home by implementing strategies to save energy and water, and starting Green Teams in order to empower their communities to be “greener”.
Faith in Place welcomes people of all faith to be part of events like this one that encourages us to work together for the well of our common land, water, and air. Different faith leaders were invited to join the closing ceremony to lift up their voices and call people to be more mindful about our planet.
“As the Chicago Outreach Director, who has nestled this vision for a Green Team Summit for some time now, I am over the moon with gratitude for all who came out to attend our first statewide Green Team Summit! The over-crowded workshops and lunch chats spoke volumes of your interest in creating a more sustainable environment and healthier communities for all. Our keynote speaker, Mark Charles gave us a history lesson, we won’t soon forget. But more importantly his speech and your presence left our entire Faith in Place staff with renewed vigor and inspiration to continue on our mission” – Veronica Kyle.
If you have any photos/videos you want to share with us, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or share them on social media with the hashtag #FiPGreenTeams.
If you are interested in starting a Green Team at your House of Worship, begin talking to other people whom you think might share a passion for caring for our land, water and air. Check out our 10 Tips for Green Teams for some motivation, and please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need further coaching.