Faithful stewards and Earth lovers gathered by the hundreds to connect, learn, and celebrate with one another in Chicago at The Field Museum on Saturday, September 22nd.
Faith in Place’s Third Annual Green Team Summit boasted hundreds of participants from all over Illinois, the Midwest, and even Canada. Participants from Lake County and Champaign/Urbana also rode buses to join in the day’s activities.
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.
Excited guests flocked to the venue from the time the event commenced at 9:00 am, until it concluded at 5:00 pm.
It was an interfaith experience, with those from various faith traditions (Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Protestant Christian, Unitarian, etc.) and those with no faith affiliation in attendance.
A Plenary Session kicked off the Summit in the James Simpson Theater. President and Executive Director, Rev. Brian Sauder, welcomed everyone to the inspiring day and had the distinct pleasure to introduce, Mark Bouman, Chicago Region Program Director of the Keller Science Action Center at the Field Museum. Mark then welcomed everyone on behalf of the museum. Without his support, along with the patience and persistence of Ellen Woodward and Aasia Castaneda, this event would not be possible. Their generosity extends beyond simply donating the space to Faith in Place, but also granting Summit guests free admission to the museum – a true partnership!
Faith in Place Board Chair and U of I Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Ashlynn Stillwell followed with remarks about her research on water and encouragement to immerse ourselves in Interfaith Earth Care.
Dr. Stillwell's focus on water provided a fantastic transition for Brian to introduce our Keynote Speaker, Candace Hunter. Candace is a local Chicago artist who uses collage to "explore what is neighborhood, country, and world." Her collection, Dust in their Veins: a Visual Response to the Global Water Crisis, displayed in the theater, was the focal point of Hunter's talk.
Her speech connected the dots between access to clean water and the systems of oppression – racism and patriarchy –that affect the lives of women and girls who collect water daily. Hunter’s powerful message was met with a standing ovation.
Candace Hunter gives the Keynote.
Art on display from Dust In Their Veins by Candace Hunter
An interfaith clergy panel complemented the message, adding their remarks on the topics at hand. The panel featured: Huda Alkaff, founder and director of Wisconsin Green Muslims; Dr. Nani Bhowmik, President of the Board of Trustees of the Hindu Temple and Cultural Society of Central Illinois located in Champaign, Illinois; Rev. Taigen Dan Leighton, Ph.D., Soto Zen Buddhist priest and Guiding Dharma Teacher at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate; Sister Mary Frohlich, vowed member of the Society of the Sacred Heart and professor at Catholic Theological Union; Rabbi Edwin C. Goldberg, senior rabbi of Temple Sholom of Chicago; Syda Segovia Taylor, an elected member of the Local Spiritual Assembly for the Baha’i’s of Chicago, and Rev. Dr. Barbara A. Wilson, Director, Collaboration and Community Partnerships for the Presbytery of Chicago, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
To round out the Plenary Session, we recognized our Diamond Sponsors, the Field Museum and Hanley Foundation, and our 2018 Outstanding Volunteer, Dr. James Cavallo.
For valiant efforts in Earth care, we honored five Green Teams with a "Green Team Award." Those awarded were: First Methodist Church of Normal, Vernon Park Church of God – Chicago, Our Saviour's Lutheran Church of Arlington Heights, St. Joseph's Parish – Lake County, and McKinley Presbyterian Church and Foundation.
Others received honorable mentions to recognize their efforts. Those honored were: Stone Temple Missionary Baptist Church – Chicago, Chosen Tabernacle Ministries – Bronzeville, St. Mary of the Annunciation – Lake County, First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights, Covenant United Church of Christ – South Holland. Awards were presented by Central Illinois Outreach Director, Cindy Shepherd.