I am the pastor of the State College Presbyterian Church, a supporting congregation of PA IPL. Our church is also designated as an “Earth Care” congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA). That means we are committed to being faithful stewards of God’s good creation. In worship and educational events, we regularly thank God for the
blessing of being placed in a beautiful world that provides all the resources needed for life in its fulness (as long as we use them wisely). We are big into recycling and participate in the borough composting program. We’ve saved money and energy by upgrading lighting, insulation, and windows in our church facility, to name a few of our other “Earth Care” activities.
Climate change hits home for me in a very personal way. I am a native of New Orleans and travel there frequently to spend time with family and friends. The cleanup and rebuilding of my home town following Hurricane Katrina has been heartening to see (here I give a big ‘shout out’ to church and campus groups from Pennsylvania that volunteered to help out with these efforts). However, the long term future of New Orleans is very much in doubt as sea levels rise and coastal marshes continue to disappear.
Next year, my wife Peggy and I will be visiting pastors and churches in the Republic of Kiribati in the South Pacific. The people of Kiribati are generous and welcoming, but their nation and its cultural riches are in grave danger. That is because the entire country is made up of numerous coral atolls, none rising more than a few meters above sea level. With sea levels rising, the usable land is shrinking, and within a generation or so, the country is expected to disappear completely beneath the ocean. Peggy and I will be bringing back stories, interviews, and pictures from these wonderful people whose way of life is in peril, and we would be glad to share them with other groups or churches in the area.
I am excited to be participating in the State College to Washington ride. Though I’ve never done much road riding, I am often out mountain biking with my dog Piper on the technically challenging, rocky trails in Rothrock State Forest. It is my prayer that through the work of PA IPL and similar organizations, we can take very good care of the wild and wonderful world that sustains us all.
Resources for those wishing to learn more: CBS piece about Kiribati and climate change; We can recommend Sun Come Up about Tuvalu, another atoll island nation in the South Pacific. On January 9, 2019, the state of Louisiana announced that it had made the final land purchase to resettle the remaining residents of Isle de Jean Charles, but obstacles remain. The film Can’t Stop the Water explores the challenges.