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Jerusalem Religious Leaders on Environment

Adelie penguins walk on the ice at Cape Denison in Antarctica in this 2009 file photo. Religious leaders have urged people to take their faith-based commitment to the stewardship of God’s creation to the U.N. Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil 20-22 June. (photo: CNS/Paukine Askin, Reuters) 

Archbishop Chacour said Mar Elias College in the Galilee village of Ibillin can serve as an example of the impact that education in church institutions can make at a grass-roots level. Twenty years ago, he said, garbage could be found everywhere — except in the garbage bins — in the school’s playground. Today, students know they must to use the garbage bins if they want to keep their school clean.

In addition, Rabbi Daniel Sperber, professor of Talmudic research at Bar Ilan University, noted that, through pension funds, many faith groups control billions of dollars that could be used as leverage to influence the environmental policies of governments and industries.

The conference, which was co-sponsored by the Julia Burke Foundation, also marked the launch of the Interfaith Seminary Students Sustainability Project, bringing together Muslim, Christian and Jewish seminary students in a closed session of the first in a series of seminars on faith and the environment.

“If all religious people would pressure their governments to take steps forward on environmental issues, governments would respond,” the Rev. Yohanes Harold, a native of Germany currently working as assistant pastor in Jerusalem’s Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, noted following the seminar. “If we believe in God as the creator of earth, we have a responsibility toward other parts of creation too. We can't believe we are the kings of creation.”

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Tags: Middle East Christians Jerusalem Interreligious United States Sustainable Development