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National Council of Churches Earth Day Resource
Focuses on Rebuilding Gulf Coast Region
 

Washington, D.C., March 22, 2006—Rebuilding hurricane-ravaged communities is the focus of this year’s Earth Day Sunday resource materials from the National Council of Churches.  The Eco-Justice Program of the NCC developed this resource for churches to use in conjunction with this year’s Earth Day commemoration. Entitled Through the Eye of a Hurricane: Rebuilding Just Communities, the resource materials focus on efforts to rebuild Gulf Coast communities with justice in mind.  

Through the Eye of a Hurricane is an ecumenical resource that churches can use to plan for Earth Day Sunday on April 23 or another dedicated Sunday. The resource, which is available for free on NCC Eco-Justice Program website (www.nccecojustice.org), outlines some of the critical environmental issues that surfaced following the storms: the impact of climate change, wetlands and coastal barriers, water quality, toxic contamination as well as environmental racism on God’s creation and God’s people. It also highlights how Christians can respond to this crisis in their churches and local communities. 

According to Through the Eye of a Hurricane, the Gulf Coast hurricanes are not catastrophes isolated to a subsection of God’s world but raise important questions for all of God’s creation.  

“While the 2006 [Earth Day Sunday] resource describes the devastation of the Gulf Coast region in particular, the issues raised of environmental justice and racism, toxics, and consumer lifestyles poses a challenge to people of faith around the world,” says the resource. 

Typically observed on the Sunday closest to Earth Day, congregations across the country are encouraged to use this resource to re-energize ongoing hurricane relief efforts by planning a special worship service, study groups, a day of action, a fund drive for hurricane survivors or any event that resonates with congregants and the church’s mission. 

Cassandra Carmichael, NCC Director of Eco-Justice Programs said, “It is critical that we do all that we can to keep the victims and survivors of the hurricanes in the hearts and minds of Americans and others around the world,” she said.  

“In the days and weeks following the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, communities of faith sprang to action and assumed important leadership roles in the efforts to collect and send money, supplies, and relief workers to the Gulf Coast region. By focusing our Earth Day resources on the Gulf Coast region, we hope to remind people in our churches that the efforts to rebuild continue and the needs are beyond urgent,” said Carmichael.  

In past years more than 2,000 congregations have celebrated Earth Day with special worship experiences, education programs, and other environmental activities. With a special focus on efforts to rebuild the Gulf Coast, NCC hopes to have even more widespread participation in this year’s Earth Day Sunday. 

As Earth Day approaches, NCC intends to organize participating congregations and pursue coordinated legislative action. In addition to this resource, the Eco-Justice Program is convening a meeting in New Orleans to facilitate communication between green building experts and community leaders, and has issued a statement on recovery, clean-up, and rebuilding. The NCC has also designated a Special Commission for the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast that has called for the separation of FEMA from other Homeland Security efforts as well as other radical changes in relief efforts. 
 


EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on Earth Day Sunday or for a copy of the Through the Eye of a Hurricane resource materials, visit: www.nccecojustice.org or contact Karen Galles at 202/481-6943 or kgalles@ncccusa.org. To find out more about the Special Commission for the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast, contact Cassandra Carmichael at 202/481-6928 or Dan Webster at 212/870-2252.


 

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