Religion & environment event set
___By Ken Camp
___Texas Baptist Communications
___WACO--"Green" churches, "earthkeeping" and "environmental justice" may not be familiar terms to many Texas Baptists, but a committee named by the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission wants that to change.
___Texas Baptists will learn more about these environmental issues at a first-ever national conference on religion and the environment to be held in Waco Oct. 11-12.
___Two years ago, the CLC formed a committee including representatives from Texas Baptist churches, encampments and educational institutions to identify current environmental issues and find ways to educate church leaders about those issues.
___The group developed a series of initiatives focused on the local church, partnerships between denominational entities and public policy.
___Members also planned the national conference on religion and the environment to be held at Baylor University this fall, as well as two regional conferences in the Lubbock and Houston areas in partnership with the Logsdon School of Theology.
___Best-selling author Tony Campolo will be a keynote speaker at the Waco conference. "Caring for Creation" is the theme of the meeting, jointly sponsored by Baylor's department of environmental studies and the CLC.
___The conference will include sessions on topics such as global warming, biodiversity and sustainability, in addition to examination of theological issues such as "Kinship with Creation" and "Redeeming the Earth."
___At the congregational level, the environmental stewardship committee is encouraging "green church" initiatives. The focus is on incorporating the celebration of creation into worship services and teaching about stewardship of the earth.
___The CLC is identifying existing resources, developing new materials and putting together a speaker's bureau of volunteers who can lead seminars, workshops and worship services on environmental themes.
___To encourage churches to "think globally and act locally," the CLC also has begun an environmental justice awards program. The program provides small one-year grants to help churches and other Christian entities launch projects designed to make an impact in local communities.
___Two of the first recipients were Highland Lakes Encampment at Spicewood and Chapparal Assembly in Iowa Park. This summer, the Baptist encampments held children's camps that had themes relating to care for God's creation.
___Dudley Burton, professor of environmental studies at Baylor University in Waco, led the environmental stewardship committee, working closely with Terri Morgan, coordinator of special projects and community ministry for the CLC.
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