Wednesday 22 July 2015 at 21:35Championing Climate Action In The Black Church
by Sean A. Watkins,
It is no doubt that climate change affects communities of colour in the U.S. and around the world at disproportionate rates.
According to the NAACP Climate Justice Initiative, race, rather than class, is the number one indicator for the placement of toxic facilities in this country leading to severe climate-related health disparities at higher rates. And though this is a scary reality, faith leaders are championing the way we talk about climate change in local communities.
Rev. Dr. Earl D. Trent Jr. is the Senior Pastor of the Florida Avenue Baptist Church who made headlines in 2011 when his church became the first solar powered African-American congregation in the DC Metro area.
“I looked at the numbers and they made a lot of sense to me. The solar roof promised to cut the church’s $3,000 monthly utility bill by $400/month,” Dr. Trent says about the decision to “green” his church. Instead of focusing on “going green”—a popular narrative which doesn’t work so well in communities of colour—Dr. Trent focused on the economic value of saving money. Since the solar roof was installed, Dr. Trent’s church has launched a larger Green Ministry that includes sermons and classes to connect faith and environment in ways related to the realities already understood in the Black church.
A native of East Orange, NJ, Dr. Trent has taught at Howard University Divinity School and is the author of A Challenge to the Black Church, several articles in The Journal of Religious Thought, and several op-ed articles. He also serves as Chairman on the board for Church World Service (CWS), a U.S.-based global relief, sustainable development and refugee assistance agency representing 37 mainline denominations.
It is an honour to have Dr. Trent join OurVoices as a Spiritual Ambassador.
His work has brought visibility to the work being done in the Black church on climate change and has reframed the narrative on what “green ministry” and “going green” can look like in communities of colour.
Photo via Florida Avenue Baptist Church