Bahai News - United Methodists join 'Sacred Gifts' event in Nepal
United Methodists join 'Sacred Gifts' event in Nepal
Nov 6 2000 1:48 PM
Nov. 6, 2000 News media contact: Linda Bloom (212) 870-3803 New York
NOTE: This report is accompanied by a sidebar, UMNS story #506.
By United Methodist News Service
In Mongolia, Buddhist leaders have publicly announced the reintroduction
of a centuries-old ban on hunting the snow leopard and saiga antelope,
both endangered species there.
In the United States, members of United Methodist Women are continuing a
campaign to convince local branches of Kinko's, a chain of copying stores,
to use chlorine-free paper.
In Europe, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has promoted the
River of Life environmental network, designed to engage religious
communities along the Danube River in efforts of conservation.
These are among the "Sacred Gifts for a Living Planet" that
will be celebrated Nov. 15 in Nepal. Organized by the Alliance of
Religions and Conservation (ARC) and the WWF-World Wide Fund for Nature
(formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund), the world's largest
independent conservation organization, the event is expected to draw
more than 800 faith leaders and environmentalists.
Representatives of the world's major faiths -- including Christians,
Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, Bahais, Sikhs, Shintos, Taoists
and Zoroastrians - will make action-oriented pledges addressing a wide
range of environmental issues.
The Rev. Kathleen LaCamera, a United Methodist pastor and press officer
for ARC, said the Nepal event probably will mark the first time so many
worldwide religious leaders will have gathered to make such commitments.
Their participation, she added, is an effort "to acknowledge that
the planet is important and sacred."
The Sacred Gifts program was inaugurated in partnership with ARC in 1999
as part of the WWF's Living Planet Campaign. It recognizes that faith
groups not only are involved in conservation efforts, but also expresses
their environmental concerns in ways appropriate to their own traditions
and social situations. The results are models of conviction, commitment
and grass-roots action that others could emulate.
The gifts to be presented in Nepal provide models of what can be
accomplished, according to LaCamera. Different segments of the
denomination have responded to the Sacred Gifts program, she said,
because they "understood right away what we were trying to do on a
Pamela Sparr, who will be in Nepal representing the Women's Division of
the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, considers participation
to be "a really great honor" and is looking forward to sharing
with and learning from faith leaders from other countries and traditions.
"One of the aims of the Women's Division's work on the environment
is that it has a multiplier effect," she said. The Women's Division
administers the United Methodist Women organization.
After a 1994 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report concluded that
the bleaching process used by paper manufacturers releases cancer-causing
dioxins into the air, the Women's Division made the switch to
chlorine-free paper and embarked on an educational and awareness-building
campaign about chlorine-free products within the church. The division also
initiated the Kinko's campaign. In 1996, General Conference, the
denomination's top legislative body, backed the work with a resolution
on "A Dioxin-Free Future."
Another denominational body, the United Methodist Board of Pension and
Health Benefits, will offer as a gift its use of investments as a way to
prompt companies to maintain ethical and environmentally friendly
business practices. Laurie Michalowski, the board's coordinator of
corporate responsible ministry, will attend the Nepal event. She hopes
the agency's gift will demonstrate "the power of the investment
tool" and show its potential "for addressing issues of concern
that affect the environment and peoples."
United Methodists also are involved in a push to combat global warming
in the United States. That "gift" is being presented by the
U.S. National Council of Churches, which is working in cooperation with
the National Religious Partnership for the Environment on the project.
Other sacred gifts to be presented in Nepal include:
· An environmental audit being launched by leaders of
the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Union of American
· A pledge by the China Taoists Association to call upon
its members to stop using endangered animals in traditional medicine
· A team effort by Muslim fishing communities to conserve
Misali Island, one of the most important turtle nesting sites in the
· A pledge by India's Sikh community to reduce fossil
fuel consumption in Delhi's community kitchens.
More information about the Sacred Gifts Project is available at the ARC
Web site, www.religionsandconservation.org, or the WWF Web site,
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