NEWS from the National Council of Churches, USA
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Thousands to lift up Gulf Coast rebuilding
in Earth Day Sunday services

Washington, April 19, 2006—Earth Day Sunday is being celebrated across the nation in more than two thousand congregations this weekend.  Nearly 2,500 worship resource materials, entitled Through the Eye of a Hurricane: Rebuilding Just Communities, were downloaded or mailed by the Eco-Justice Program of the National Council of Churches USA. [www.nccecojustice.org]

“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.

“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,” said Cassandra Carmichael, NCC Director of Eco-Justice Programs.

Congregations were 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.  Typically congregations have observed Earth Day on the Sunday closest to April 22.

Four major church affiliated relief organizations have sent more than $100 million given for Gulf Coast rebuilding.  In addition, countless hours have been donated by church groups from all over the country who have made trips to the devastated region to help restore the lives of their sisters and brothers in Christ who were uprooted beyond imagination.

In addition, Faithful America [www.faithfulamerica.org], the NCC’s online community for Gospel justice, counted 2,984 individuals sending 8,874 letters to their Senators and Representatives.  These citizens are asking their Senators and Representatives to insist that toxic sediment be removed from the streets of New Orleans, to hold clean-up agencies responsible for fully informing the public of the health risks, and to ensure that there is full public participation in rebuilding a Gulf Coast in a way that is just for all people and God’s creation.

Also, today the NCC joined an interfaith coalition sending a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Disease Control, and the Department of Homeland Security asking for more aggressive action in cleaning up contaminated sediment in New Orleans [complete text below]. This group coalition includes the NCC, Union for Reform Judaism, United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society, Lutheran Office of Government Affairs, Presbyterian Church USA Washington office, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (Roman Catholic), Mennonite Central Committee Central States, and the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries.

The coalition’s letter is in keeping with the mission of the NCC’s Special Commission for the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast [www.ncccusa.org/justrebuilding/].  The commission was established by the NCC Governing Board late last year to remind all Americans and our government of the collective responsibility to participate in the “equitable” rebuilding of communities in the region.

Contact NCC News: Daniel Webster, 212-870-2252.


 

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