I asked Katharine Preston of Essex five questions about her Ecology Ministry. Katharine came to the North Country almost four years ago from the Boston area but she has been coming to her family’s camp in the High Peaks for almost 60 years. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AA: What is an “ecology ministry”?
KP: An Ecology Ministry is a lay ecumenical ministry of creation awareness and care with particular concern for the social justice ramifications of climate change. I am particularly influenced by reputable science, a more inclusive understanding of God’s love for all of creation (not just humans) and the compassion for justice modeled by Jesus. I seek to help others sort through the prophetic and pastoral implications of this.
AA: What is your background?
KP: I received a Master of Divinity degree in May, 2000 from Andover Newton Theological School, in Newton, MA, where I studied and explored the integration of ecological concepts with theology, ethics, biblical studies and pastoral counseling. I also hold a Master of Forest Science from Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and spent 20 years working for government, non-profits and academia in the environmental field.
AA: What denomination is your ministry?
KP: I like to think of it as non-denominational, as we are all in this together and such divisions seem superfluous to me, given the peril of the planet.
AA: What does your ministry look like (congregation, building)?
No congregation or building. The ministry is my work: guest preaching, workshops and writing.
AA: What are most pressing issues facing faith based communities with regards to ecology?
The same as the rest of the human community and the planet: climate change. For the record – this is intimately tied up with the economic crisis. The two “ecos” are interrelated. An integrated response, such as a “Green New Deal” will be the most successful on all fronts.
The warnings from scientists and environmentalists seem to have had little effect toward transforming the consciousness of humans as to the changes needed. As communities of faith, we bring an indispensable and strong moral authority to the table. Although there are differences in theology and worship, all major religions agree on certain moral tenants such as the sacredness of the earth and concern for the less fortunate. We need to work together to help.
There is a lot to be done, and not much time before the planet as we know it is radically changed. In the north country, there are things we will be very sad to see go, like snow cover for half the winter or maples trees. But for others, it is already a matter of life or death.