Leading national experts to discuss faith and climate change in Asheville

Published: January 5, 2016

by C. Mark Batten, battencm@nullwfu.edu, Office of Communications

Christianity needs an ecological conversion.

That is the core message of Pope Francis’ powerful encyclical letter Laudato Sí (Praised Be). The human species has managed to run up a sizeable ecological deficit on all our earthly accounts—soil, water, and climate. From the way we feed ourselves, power our buildings, and transport our bodies, the evidence is clear: we need to transition away from fossil fuels and start building a clean energy economy. As Pope Francis’ encyclical makes clear, Christianity has a key role to play in preserving this earth, our common home.

On January 19, Wake Forest University School of Divinity, in partnership with Creation Care Alliance of Western NC and UNC Asheville’s Office of Sustainability, will convene a panel discussion in Asheville, bringing four nationally-recognized experts to discuss issues of environmental justice.

Panelists include Dr. Gail R. O’Day, Dean and Professor of New Testament and Preaching at Wake Forest University School of Divinity; Justin Catanoso, Director of the Journalism Program at Wake Forest College and international correspondent on climate change; Jacqueline Patterson, Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program; and Dr. Laura Lengnick, soil scientist and climate change consultant.

The event begins at 7:00 p.m. in Alumni Hall on the campus of UNC Asheville and is free and open to the public. Advance registration is requested. A small reception will follow.

Though located in Winston-Salem, Wake Forest University School of Divinity has been offering programs in Asheville over the past four years. The School of Divinity has emerged as a national leader in addressing ecological well-being, climate change, and food justice, with a specific niche in training and equipping faith leaders. Through the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative, the school trains future leaders through a 15-credit certificate program in Food and Faith nested within the Master of Divinity degree, and offers a robust continuing-education program. The initiative’s workshops, conferences, and retreats have attracted hundreds of participants from 17 states and five countries, from 10 colleges including Exeter University in England, and from more than a dozen Christian denominations, as well as from other faiths. Every June the school convenes a five-day summer immersion course in Food, Faith, and Ecology in the North Carolina mountains.

Learn more about how to become a partner with the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative, join the mailing list to receive updates, and how to attend an upcoming continuing education event.